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Personal Best: Stories of high-five moments and red letter days.

Thursday, July 12 / 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. (doors open 6:45)

Arlington Heights Memorial Library

Content is appropriate for ages 18+. Reservations strongly encouraged. 

Leaving your homeland to pursue your freedom. Crushing the SAT. Meeting the love of your life. Racing against time to prove your worth. Discovering a hidden talent. Getting a second chance at life. Have we got "personal bests" for you! And this month, we're introducing two first-time tellers from our recent workshop: Carrie Soukup and David Weiner!

This show is free to the public, thanks to the generous sponsorship of our community partner, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library - but reservations are strongly encouraged as these shows fill up fast. Make yours here or directly through the library.

Diane Kastiel

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. Diane has told stories on stage at The Second City, the Park West, Victory Gardens and other theaters - but also in more unconventional settings, including comedy clubs, art galleries, the basement of a tattoo parlor, homeless shelters – she even did a show in the middle of the woods! Diane is an alumna of The Second City Conservatory and the University of Chicago’s Great Books program, and has an MBA from Northwestern University…just in case. 

David Himmel

David Himmel is a literary and award-winning journalistic mercenary. His pursuits of the greater good have led him to be an oldies radio DJ, a marketing director, several different team mascots, the editor-in-chief of a health magazine, a Second City-trained actor, a stand-up comic, and the owner of three Volkswagen hatchbacks. He is the author of “A Camp Story” and the forthcoming book, “The Last DJ.” David is a contributor to and co-editor of the digital ‘zine, Literate Ape and was the head writer on the award-winning web series, “Greetings! From Prison.” He has performed at storytelling events such as The Moth and Mortified and serves on the Associate Board of Gilda's Club Chicago. In May 2007, David wrote the first cover profile on Kim Kardashian for the now defunct "Racket magazine." In it, he predicted exactly the Kardashian-influenced world we live in today. Blame David - he deserves and accepts it. David lives in Wicker Park with a creative director wife and a gassy infant son.

Ada Cheng

Ada Cheng is a professor-turned storyteller and performing artist. She has been featured at storytelling shows in Chicago, Atlanta, Cedar Rapids, New York, Asheville, and Kansas City. In 2017, she performed her first solo show, Not Quite: Asian American by Law, Asian Woman by Desire, at National Storytelling Conference, Capital Fringe Festival, Minnesota Fringe Festival, and Boulder Fringe Festival. Her show received a great review from The Washington Post. Ada debuted her second solo show, Breaking Rules, Broken Hearts: Loving across Borders, with Fillet of Solo storytelling festival at Lifeline Theatre in January 2018.


In addition to having performed the second solo show at The Exit Theater in San Francisco in June, she will also bring it to the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York in October this year. Ada is the producer and host of the show Am I Man Enough?: A Storytelling/Podcasting Show, where people tell personal stories to critically examine the culture of toxic masculinity and the construction of masculinity and manhood. In addition, she is the co-producer and co-host of Talk Stories: An Asian American/Asian Diaspora Storytelling Show, along with Archy Jamjun, which showcases Asian/Asian American storytellers and performing artists. Her motto: Make your life the best story you tell.

Steve Miller

Steve Miller has been a high school math teacher for 16 years. His favorite topic is algebra and his favorite victims are freshmen. Prior to teaching, Steve practiced patent law, where he sub-specialized in disposable absorbent nonwoven hygiene products (aka tampons and diapers). He enjoys playing guitar, seeing movies, and walking his dog Amelia.

Sarah Bunger

Sarah Bunger is a two-time Moth Grand Slam Champion. She’s also told stories at Solo Theatre, Story Lab, Fillet of Solo, and WBEZ's New Year's Eve program. Currently, she curates the Truth or Lie Reading Series, which takes place the first Sunday of every month in Chicago.
Sarah grew up in one of the smallest towns imaginable outside of Dayton, Ohio (think: flashing caution light, a gas station/Subway sandwich shop, and lots and lots of cows). Since moving to the big city seven years ago, she is adjusting to the long winters and nearly complete lack of cows. She teaches English to sophomores and seniors, relishing every minute she gets to re-experience Holden Caulfield, Blanche Dubois, and Nick Carraway. (But not those boys from Lord of the Flies. Because, gross). 

David Weiner

Dave is a 32-year resident of Arlington Heights. He grew up in Kenosha Wisconsin and attended University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.  He is a first-time storyteller, having reluctantly attended a recent storytelling workshop to please his wife but found it sparked a creative interest he looks forward to pursuing. He likes golf, pickleball, and baking – chocolate croissants and blueberry scones are his specialties. Dave looks forward to more time to plan vacations, which he enjoys more than actually taking them.  

Carrie Soukup

Carrie Soukup enjoys her days as a family organizer, chore aficionado and cheerleader. Coming from a long line of kitchen-table storytellers, she is famous for such tales as "Dentures,” "One Way Street," and "That's my Bathroom Stall." As a young adult, she and a team traveled the country in a van for a year telling “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” She blogs about prayer and perspective for people who work with children, and is writing her first book. On a great day, you can find Carrie knee boarding or training exotic baby birds.

Nestor Gomez

Nestor Gomez was born in Guatemala and moved to Chicago in the mid-80s.  He told his first story at a Moth StorySLAM as a way to get over stuttering. He won the slam that night and has not stopped telling stories since. Nestor currently holds the record for most Chicago Moth StorySLAM wins. But if you ask him, he will say his greatest achievements are making his mother proud and winning the heart of his new wife, Sweet Mel. 

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