PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Sometimes, the title says it all.
After a months-long hiatus, Prospect Heights' long-running 'Tell Me A Story' series will return to Bar Sepia on Underhill Avenue Monday night, offering locals new and old a place to get to know their neighbors.
"I’ve heard some gorgeous, hilarious and heartbreaking stories," said storyteller Charity Thomas, who has run the series since 2010. "People really tell their story, and it’s pretty amazing."
Unlike other reading series in the area, Tell Me A Story eschews microphones and stage dynamic, opting instead for a more personal setting.
It’s super intimate," Thomas said. "It’s a bar stool in the back of the bar. There’s no mic, you’re just talking to people...Theres no separation, no stage. It’s the same as sitting at the head of a table."
That intimate vibe helps foster the neighborliness Thomas said she felt ebbing away when she decided to start the series three years ago.
"I’ve lived here since 1996 and I watched the neighborhood change — I felt myself getting a little resentful about it," Thomas said, recalling how new neighbors would walk down the street without so much as a nod to one another. "[Neighbors around Bar Sepia] became a family by turning to each other and telling each other stories and talking like human beings talk."
Those open and honest dialogues inspired Thomas, already a seasoned storyteller, to start bringing others into the conversation.
"I was considering changing the format or making it more professional looking, like an open mic, but that's not the point of it — it’s just people talking to each other," Thomas said.
"I wanted my new neighbors to be able to participate in that so that they can ... become part of the neighborhood, so that the neighborhood can stay a neighborhood."