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Fur, Feathers & Scales: Stories about animals

Friday, July 23 /  6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights

It's time we talked about the elephant in the room - and all the other animals that make life so interesting. This month, stories about terrorist lizards, heroic horses, neurotic mice, amorous giraffes, vengeful cats, and waaaay too trusting Flemish Giants (Google it). 

Show is appropriate for ages 18+ unless accompanied by an adult. Grounds open at 5 p.m. BYO chair, food & drink - no alcohol please. In the case of inclement weather, the show will move indoors and follow all CDC guidelines.

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Diane Kastiel is the producer, director, and host of First Person Live. A writer and storyteller from Chicago, she’s a three-time winner of the National Public Radio’s Moth StorySLAM; her work has been featured on the Moth Radio Hour, its podcast, and at special events for WBEZ, NPR’s Chicago affiliate. Diane has told stories on stage at The Second City, the Park West, Victory Gardens and other theaters as well as comedy clubs, art galleries, the basement of a tattoo parlor - she even did a show in the middle of the woods! Since launching First Person Live, Diane works with libraries, community centers and homeless shelters to bring storytelling to a wider audience, and leads regular storytelling workshops at Northwestern University. Diane is an alumna of The Second City Conservatory and the University of Chicago’s Great Books program. She also has an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management…just in case. 

Jean Kelsey

Jean Kelsey is a massage therapist, yoga and meditation instructor, and a massage therapy instructor at Harper College. She has a Master’s degree in Human Resources management, and a former life in corporate Human Resources. Jean took First Person Live’s storytelling workshop three years ago, and she has been writing stories ever since. When she is not working or writing, you can find Jean walking her 140-pound Newfoundland, Milo. She loves live music and theatre and can’t wait to get out and enjoy these events again! 

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Risa McDonell may be the only mom in America who sent her four-year-old to preschool with a Budweiser can hanging around his neck…but that’s another story. Risa started telling stories as a way to create short-term deadlines for herself, get out of her living room “office,” and find a creative community to inspire her. She tells stories all over Chicago and is thrilled to be at First Person Live! Risa's happy place is anywhere she can be with her husband and 10-year-old son, preferably in Maine. And some day she will finish her novel – a fictionalized account of her great-grandmother’s friendship with Babe Ruth when they were on a bowling league team together (really!).

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Sean Whitaker is new to telling stories to an audience but is frequently on stage as a musician, weaving stories with the sound of the tuba. Sean grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, but has adapted fairly well to big city life in Glenview, where he lives with his wife and four sons. Sean works in healthcare IT, where there is never a shortage of meaningful problems to solve. This is Sean's debut at First Person Live. 

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Erin Lindstrom is a high school English (and sometimes Spanish) teacher. She worked in corporate communications before she began coaching her former high school’s speech team and transitioning to education. Twenty years in, she thrives on teaching creative writing and working alongside her students as she dabbles in poetry, fiction, memoir, and playwriting. As a teenager, Erin traveled to Costa Rica as part of a month-long cultural exchange, and 30 years of recurring trips there have fueled her love of travel and provided unending fodder for her writing and storytelling. Currently Erin is writing her first screenplay based on her adventures in Costa Rica, and working on her Master of Arts in Communication, Media and Theater. When she is not dodging bats, tripping over snakes, and being chased out of rainforests by monkeys in foreign countries, Erin spends her time rescuing retired racing greyhounds from the tracks and watching them sleep on her couch.

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Steve Miller has been a high school math teacher for 18 years, and a storyteller for five. In the classroom, his favorite topic is algebra and his favorite victims are freshmen. Prior to teaching, Steve was a patent lawyer who specialized in disposable absorbent nonwoven hygiene products (e.g., tampons and diapers!). He likes to believe that spending 2-1/2 hours a day driving to work makes him smarter as long as he listens to audiobooks. When not driving, Steve enjoys discussing politics podcasts with his wife and 70’s music with his stepson. 

Lauren Kelliher

Lauren Kelliher spent the last 15 years realizing the similarities between rescuing dogs and teaching English to high school and college students. She has taken photos of thousands of dogs and is now writing and editing for an educational psychology firm. Lauren got into storytelling in 2017 when she started writing down her crazy adventures from dog rescue. Since then, she has told stories at The Moth and First Person Live. Lauren lives in the Buffalo Grove with her husband of 17 years and an assortment of rescued and fostered dogs.

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Melissa Earley, originally from Colorado, is the lead pastor at First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights. She's new to storytelling (if you don't count sermons) but writes fiction and has a blog, “Waking Up Earley" ( Melissa loves to travel, though the rain on her trip to Belize inspired a poem about chewing off her arm. She loves to go hiking with her dog Mandy and would take her kayaking if the dog would just learn to paddle. 

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