Tellers and Workshops

Jasmin Cardenas is a Colombian-American bilingual Storyteller, Actress, Educator and Social Activist. Jasmin enjoys sharing the experiences of being bi-cultural in her personal tales for children and adults. She performed at the 2016 National Storytelling Festival and has toured the country at various festivals, schools, and libraries. Jasmin was the Kohl/McCormick StoryBus Teller and the Chicago Public Library Cuentos Aqui Storyteller, performing to over 10,000 children and their families. She was also one of the first Latina’s to receive the 2013 Race Bridges Storytelling Fellowship Award. A professional actress, Jasmin has performed at numerous theaters and is a proud SAG-AFTRA member whose credits include Chicago Fire and Betrayal. For more info, go to

Rives Collins is a storyteller, professor, director, and artist that has loved stories since he could talk. He’s toured regularly as a professional storyteller and keynote speaker at festivals, conferences, schools, libraries, businesses, and museums. As an Associate Artist at ASC, he has directed two world-premiere plays. Teaching at Northwestern for over 30 years, Rives has received multiple awards for teaching excellence. A current board member of the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America, he works with an international community of artists, educators, and scholars to champion the cause of drama and theatre in the lives of young people.

Nestor Gomez was born in Guatemala and moved to Chicago in the mid 80's. He is a self-taught poet and writer, t-shirt designer, and avid dancer. He is also a storyteller and currently holds the Chicago record for most Moth Slam wins at 27, becoming Moth Grand Slam Champion twice. Nestor is working on a memoir, a collection of stories, and a book of poems. He is also the curator, producer, and host of 80 minutes Around the World, an immigration stories show. If you ask him, Nestor will tell you that his biggest accomplishment is making his family proud, and winning the heart of his wife Sweet Mel.
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Emily Hooper Lansana is an arts administrator, educator and performing artist, she is Associate Director of Community Arts Engagement at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. She performs with In the Spirit. She has been featured at the National Storytelling Festival, the National Association of Black Storytellers Festival, and at many venues. She enjoys passing on traditions as a coach and mentor with Ase Youth Group and Rebirth Poetry Ensemble. She received her BA in Theater Studies from Yale University and MA in Performance Studies from Northwestern University.

Earliana McLaurin is a Chicago-based actor, writer, and teaching artist. As an actor, Earliana has worked with several Chicago theatre companies including Steppenwolf Garage Series, Prologue Theatre Company, and Hell in a Handbag Productions.  Earliana is also a passionate solo artist whose credits include:  Miss Mattie’s Story (Stories Connect Us All 2013 Festival), Bubbling Lights (Side Project Theatre 2012 Choosing to Be Here Storytelling Festival), and Quit Being So Overdramatic! (Stockyards Theatre Project: 2008 Women’s Performance Art Festival). Earliana is a graduate of Truman State University and the University of Missouri.

Dorothy Milne has been telling true-life stories for Chicago audiences for over 25 years. Back in 1992, Amy Sedaris invited her to participate in a group show, directed by Mick Napier, at the Annoyance Theatre. This new experience started her on a lifelong path -- as a storyteller, a teacher, and a director. She has been writing and performing with the storytelling collective Sweat Girls since 1993, she directs for 2nd Story, leads the Lifeline Storytelling Project, and co-curates the annual Fillet of Solo Festival. Dorothy is also the artistic director of Lifeline Theatre, an award-winning new work theater which specializes in literary adaptations, and where she has directed over 20 productions.

Jeremy Schaefer tours original storytelling assemblies to Chicagoland schools through Urban Gateways.  He hosts and co-produces The Sidesplitter, an evening of funny people telling funny stories at Laugh Out Loud Theater.  His solo shows have appeared at theaters and fringe festivals throughout the midwest.  As a playwright, Jeremy has created dozens of interactive performance for Imagination Theater where he serves as Artistic Director.  His most recent play, Games Dad Didn’t Play, toured Saint Louis schools with Metro Theater Company.  He is grateful to be at Adventure Stage tonight!

Anne Shimojima, a retired school library media specialist, has performed for 30+ years at festivals, schools, libraries, conferences, senior centers, and museums. Some past venues include the National Storytelling Festival, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and as Teller-in-Residence at the International Storytelling Center. Anne also gives workshops on the use of storytelling in education and the creation of family history projects and regularly performs her family story about the Japanese American incarceration camps in World War II.

Megan Wells began her career as an actress and director in Chicago, also working as a communication consultant to Fortune 500 companies. After sharing a story at an open mic, Megan fell in love with stories and has been finding moving stories and telling them since. An award-winning storyteller with over 40 years of experience, she performs in museums and symphonies, enhances education for thousands of children, entertains families in festivals and libraries, and helps executives, actors and storytellers craft powerful stories to effect change.

Scott Whitehair is an storyteller, teacher, and producer living in Chicago, IL. He is the producer of This Much Is True, one of Chicago's longest running personal narrative series, creator of Story Lab Chicago, which has put 500+ new storytellers on stage since 2011, and director of Do Not Submit, a grassroots network of open mics across the city bringing people together to connect with each other through story. Scott tells anywhere someone will listen, including The National Storytelling Festival Exchange Place, Steppenwolf Theater, the historic Green Mill, and on NPR and the Risk podcast.  He helps organizations and individuals develop their voices and stories, and is a frequent guest instructor at the city's top universities. Scott's personal narrative class has been selling out every month since 2012. Find out more at


Storytelling For YOU with Scott Whitehair
Do you want to tell your stories, but have no idea where to begin? Does the thought of sitting down and picking up a pen make your eyes cross? The good news is that you have been a storyteller all of your life, and you don't have to write a single word down to tell a well-crafted, engaging story. In this workshop, we'll take some of your life experience and turn it into a story you'll feel good about telling to friends, family, or even on stage. We'll explore tools and techniques dealing with finding your stories, basic structure, and connecting with an audience before experimenting with them in a fun, pressure-free, supportive environment. No experience is necessary, and the only thing you need to bring is a positive attitude and the willingness to share who you are with other people who will be doing the same.

What's YOUR Story? with Earliana McLaurin
Dive right into telling your own stories in this workshop designed in the signature 2nd Story style. We will kick off with activities to help you mine your own life for great stories, and then will move into how to craft those stories for performance (whether around the family dinner table or at the nearest open mic). No experience necessary, and this is also a great workshop for seasoned storytellers looking for new material! Come by yourself or with friends or family members, it's a fun way to spend meaningful time together. Appropriate for ages 10+.

You Start the Story, I'll Finish the Tale with Emily Lansana
When I was a little girl, my Nana told me stories and I told her stories. For many of us the love of stories was born at bedside or on a porch maybe at a kitchen table or on a long car ride. Sharing stories across generations has kept the history of our people and our families alive throughout history. This workshop is designed for youth and elders to explore telling stories together. This interactive session will lead participants through a treasure box of prompts to discover some wonderful jewels. So much of the time we separate into learning spaces that are only for youth or only for adults. This session will hold space for voices of all ages to craft tales together from beginning to end.