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Profiles Tue Jul 31 2012

Stories of Chicago Storytellers: Dana Norris


"Fight Club, only with stories instead of punching," is how Dana Norris describes Story Club, a Chicago live lit show she founded in 2009. These days, it is a simple scan of event listings to find an abundance of storytelling shows in Chicago. But when Norris attempted to find an open mic for stories back in 2009, she discovered ample opportunity to perform in the thriving poetry and stand-up comedy scenes, but felt her performances did not fit into either medium. After complaining to her instructor, Brigid Murphy, founder of longstanding Chicago variety show Milly's Orchid Show, she encouraged Norris to just start her own. And so Story Club was born.

Norris attended and graduated from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Her colleagues in the theater department were hosting talent and variety shows, and Norris wanted in. She memorized her short stories from her creative writing and non-fiction work and utilized these venues to perform.

Like many post-college graduates in the arts, Norris moved to Chicago and her art form aside in exchange for a 9-5 job. After too many days of going work followed by lying on the couch watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she decided there must be something more. She enrolled at the University of Chicago Graham School in the certificate program for Creative Writing where she took Brigid Murphy's course "Writing Out Loud" and launched her creative ideas into Story Club.

Her advice for other artists looking to get into the storytelling scene is to go to as many shows as is manageable. "Introduce yourself to the producers and other artists and performers," says Norris. She describes the Chicago storytelling community as extremely supportive.

As for the city that she has called home for over 10 years, she finds Chicago has an "obsession with authenticity," which she attributes to the success of Story Club and other storytelling venues.

"It's almost impossible to judge [the storytellers], you feel connected to them, and you realize your life isn't in such shambles as you thought," Norris said. "You watch reality shows, or TV, and magazines; there is an idea of perfection, that you have to be perfect. What's freeing about the non-fiction story scene is that people get up there and talk about how far from perfect they are."

You can find Norris telling how far from perfect she is at Story Club, the first Thursday of every month at Uncommon Ground at 3800 N. Clark St. at 8:00pm. Reservations are encouraged. Norris also tells her stories about Internet dating, "Bad With Men" at In Our Words blog, "OkCupid is Lethal" podcast at Rye Bread Radio, and live at Here's the Story on August 5 at 8:00pm at Stage 773 and Solo in the 2nd City Reading Series on August 14 at 8:00pm at Cole's. Norris is an MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at Northwestern University.

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Dan / August 1, 2012 7:05 PM

And you can see her this Sunday, 7:30 at Here's the Story!

Goldeneye / October 3, 2012 10:54 PM


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