One of the Kates.
One of the Kates. Credit: Johnny Knight

The theme of Lifeline Theatre’s 30th anniversary season, “Big Stories, Up Close,” dovetails nicely with the mission of its Fillet of Solo festival, which is to celebrate “Chicago’s long-lived storytelling and Live Lit scene.” Comprising 29 shows presented over the course of three weeks, the 16th annual FOS is housed at two Rogers Park locales—Lifeline itself and the Heartland Studio. Check the schedule at for specifics on what’s happening where.

Opening night highlights include “lesbigay”-themed sketch comedy from GayCo (Thu 1/3 and 1/10, 8:30 PM, Sat 1/19, 8:30 PM) and Amanda Rountree‘s new improv-based solo piece, 185 Buddhas (Thu 1/3, 8:30 PM, Sat 1/12, 8:30 PM, Sun 1/20, 7 PM). In the following days look for performances by members of two storytelling ensembles, 2nd Story (Fri 1/4-1/18, 7 PM) and EnSolo (Sat 1/5, 7 PM, Fri 1/11, 7 PM, Thu 1/17, 7 PM). The offerings from all-female comedy troupe the Kates feature at least two performers whose names aren’t Kate: Alicia Sowisdral and Mia McCullough (Fri 1/4, 8:30 PM, Thu 1/10, 7 PM, Sat 1/19, 8:30 PM). Then there are Story Club, with an open-mike format that challenges brave souls to tell an enticing tale in eight minutes (Sat 1/5-1/19, 7 PM), and Write Club, presenting “bareknuckled lit” battles, at the end of which the audience chooses a winner (Sat 1/5 and 1/12, 8:30 PM, Thu 1/17, 8:30 PM). Chicago favorite Tekki Lomnicki usually performs monologues culled from her own experience; she’s joined here by Anne Purky and Beth Ann Bryant-Richards (Fri 1/11, 8:30 PM, Sun 1/13 and 1/20, 6 PM). And the Sweat Girls mark their 20th anniversary in the storytelling biz (Fri 1/4 and 1/18, 7 PM, Sun 1/6-1/20, 4 PM).