Truth Be Told: A Night of Personal Storytelling
Come out to Gorton for a night of storytelling with some of the best storytellers in the nation in the state of the art John & Nancy Hughes Theater.
Featuring live music from young Indie-Folk artist Ali Jackson starting at 7:30 p.m.
Feel free to read more about our stunning lineup of storytellers down below!
ALI JACKSON (Musical Guest at 7:30)
Ali Jackson is a 17 year old Indie-folk performance artist from Lake Bluff, Illinois. Her stirring vocals and arpeggio style of guitar playing convey the honesty of emotion found in her folk music selections. In her own compositions Ali draws on life experiences, whether fond memories of her childhood home in Texas, or the challenges of opening oneself up to trust in a relationship. For Ali, life is a “work in progress”, and song writing is her way of capturing life’s unique moments. Ali is a member of the Midwest Young Artist ensemble “VX”, a studio recording group lead by Emmy-winning Composer and music producerGary Fry. She has performed at the Village Tavern in Long Grove, The Canopy Club in Urbana, IL, Bennett Gordon Hall at Ravinia, Uncommon Ground in Chicago, and in the 2017 Lake Forest Days Parade. She givesa lot of her time to performing for, and entertaining the residents at various retirement homes. Check her out at alijacksonmusic.com!
SHEILA ARNOLD JONES
Master Storyteller Sheila Arnold Jones has been gifted by God with performance skills and has been using this talent since she was eight years old. She has been a full-time Storyteller since 2003 sharing a variety of stories – “whatever fits in her mouth”. She travels throughout the country, including annually in Gurnee and Dunlap, Illinois, providing Stories, Historic Character Presentations, Christian Monologues and Professional Development for Educators to schools, churches, libraries, organizations and Storytelling Festivals. She also has been a historical consultant for museums and organizations – transforming primary source documents into engaging stories. Sheila is often interactive and many times intersperses stories with song. Sheila has participated in Storytelling Festivals in Virginia, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Tennessee. Sheila did a variety of jobs prior to full-time Storytelling – a Colonial Williamsburg Manager and Theatrical Interpreter, Social Worker for aggressive adolescents with emotional problems, an in-house Residential Counselor, a tour guide, pizza delivery person, Executive Assistant and Receptionist. Sheila currently resides in Hampton, VA and is married to B. Lamont Jones.
PHILIP EARL JOHNSON
Philip has been a full time actor and comedian for the last 30 years and is extremely excited about this portion of his career as a storyteller. As an actor he has been seen in film and television, including Chicago Fire and Chicago Med, Empire, Mind Games, Early Edition and Dharma and Greg. He played Joe Pitt in the national tour of ANGELS IN AMERICA: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika originating at The Royal George Theatre and played Kurt in the Joseph Jefferson award winning production of The Dance Of Death at Writers Theatre. He has appeared at Steppenwolf, Court, Timeline, Chicago Shakespeare, ATC, American Blues, The Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and The Paramount Theatre. This spring he will play Dr. Thomas Stockmann in Robert Falls’ production of An Enemy Of The People at The Goodman Theatre. For the past 28 years he has toured the country with his one man silent comedy show MooNiE: Juggler, Ropewalker, Foolish Mortal! And has over 7500 performances under his belt. His show has received The Renaissance Award for best solo show in the country for the past 6 years and best over all show twice during that time. As a storyteller he has told stories in the ongoing storytelling shows Story Sessions, This Much Is True, Do Not submit as well as The Witching Hour festival in Iowa City. He will premiere his one man storytelling and comedy show, This Was Not The Dream, this summer at The Illinois Shakespeare Festival. He is the proud father of four and lives with them and his wife Genna in the Chicagoland area.
Megan Hicks’s reputation extends nationwide and internationally to storytelling festivals, fringe venues, campuses, conferences, and concert halls, from the National Storytelling Festival to solo tours in China, Latin America, and New Zealand. Her spoken word audios have won multiple national awards and honors. Stage credits include “WOKE!” at Fringe Arts Theater in Philadelphia. Her stories “Three Assassinations” and “Just Another T.N.D.” were featured on Public Radio as part of a WHYY/First Person Arts podcast collaboration, “Commonspace.” She lives outside Philadelphia, where she and her husband produce the Rose Valley Storytelling House Concert series, now in its fourth year.
Anne Van der Vort Purky grew up in Lake Forest, and graduated from LFHS and Northwestern. She studied Film and Television at N.U. And her first job out of college was as a production assistant on “The Blues Brothers.” She then moved to L.A. And began working as a production coordinator on big budget T.V. Commercials, music videos, and independant films (most notibly the cult classic “Repo Man”). She moved back to Chicago and continued to work as a production coordinator. In 2004 Anne and her husband and daughter moved back to Lake Forest. Anne became active in the LDA and became a passionate advocate for her differently abled daughter. Through a writing teacher, and classes at the MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Anne learned about the vibrant community of storytelling in Chicago. Anne began writing personal narrative and over the last two years has performed at Louder than a Mom, Tellin’ Tales, Short Story Theatre, Story Jam, and Story Lab. Anne is thrilled to be back at Gorton, site of her talent show at LFHS, with many wonderful memories. Anne is so pleased to be bringing storytelling to Lake Forest, with the idea that “we are bringing the city to Lake Forest!”
Jennifer is a native Californian turned New Yorker turned proud Midwesterner. Her longest career has been in group fitness, as she truly loves the active life. Though instructing has always come naturally to her, public speaking has not. Yes, as a child, she entered many a speech contest, resulting in many tears…on stage.
Though she’s been dubbed everything from the lovechild of Flannery O’Connor and Hank Williams to a backwoods Lucinda Williams, no one knows exactly what or who Minton Sparks really is. On the one hand, she’s a decorated poet, playwright, and author that’s been invited to prestigious events like the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and Berry College’s Southern Women Writer’s Conference (alongside Maya Angelou and Kaye Gibbons). On the other hand, she’s a blue-collar troubadour that’s performed in the American Songbook Series at the Lincoln Center, made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry last year, appeared at the venerable Old Towne School of Folk Music, and served as teller-in-residence at the Jonesborough National Storytelling Festival. Whatever she is and whatever she’s doing, it’s working: Minton’s been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC’s Bob Harris Show, and WoodSong’s Old-Time Radio. She’s also shared the stage with heavyweights like Ben Folds, Rodney Crowell, John Prine, Nanci Griffith, and Punch Brothers. A Tennessee native, former social worker, divinity school dropout, first-ever Spoken Word Award recipient at the Conference on Southern Literature, and founder of The Nashville Writing and Performance Institute, Minton established herself as Nashville’s first non-singing country singer with the release of 2001’s Middlin’ Sisters, where she had a chance to collaborate with the legendary Waylon Jennings. Since then, she’s released two studio follow-ups—This Dress (2003), featuring a blues cut with Keb’ Mo. and Sin Sick (2005), with the Punch Brother’s Chris Thile.
Scott Woldman is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists, Redtwist Theatre and the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre. In Chicago, his plays have been produced at Redtwist Theatre, The Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, The Artistic Home, Under The Gun Theatre, Strangeloop Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, The Playground Theatre, Ouribos Theatre, The Second City, and Chicago Dramatists. His play, Beautiful Autistic, won an Edgerton Foundation Award for New Plays. He has been performing as a comedian and story-teller for more than twenty years and is an ensemble member of the story-telling theater company 2nd Story where he also teaches story-telling, performance and comedy writing. Scott has also optioned two screenplays and is a veteran comedian, improviser, and slam poet. He has represented Chicago at the National Poetry Slam and has performed at readings and slams across the country. Scott grew up in Highland Park.
Scott Whitehair is an international storyteller, producer, and teacher from Chicago,IL. He is host of This Much Is True, one of the city’s longest running personal narrative series, creator of Story Lab Chicago, recently mentioned in Forbes and Newsweek, which has put 500+ new and first time tellers on stage since 2011, and director of Do Not Submit, a citywide network of open mics with the goal of creating empathy among neighbors. He tells stories anywhere someone will listen, which has included Steppenwolf Theater, The National Storytelling Festival’s Exchange Place, as a multiple Moth Slam winner, and on NPR and The Risk Podcast.. Scott teaches a perpetually sold out monthly class, and trains corporations, non-profits, and individuals to find their voices. In 2014, he was the featured instructor at Hong Kong Story Worthy Week, headlined by David Sedaris.
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