Live Lit Performance (Theatre of Stories ) At The Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL, USA, February 7, 2018

By Stephanie Rogers

Jeremy Owens is the creator, producer and host of You’re Being Ridiculous, a long running live-lit show most recently featured at Steppenwolf Theatre as part of their LookOut Series. Jeremy is also the co-editor for Heauxs Chicago, and a writer for Oy!Chicago. His writing has appeared in The Daily Dot, Story Club Magazine, Role Reboot, The JUF News, and Thread; and his stories have been performed at many live lit shows.

Jeremy Owens appears to let the show unfold on its own.

Andy Fine & Jeremy Owens

Andy Fine & Jeremy Owens

Jeremy Owens has assembled a cast of nine storytellers—all pros—who are about to endear the audience with their stories. They’ll reveal their coming of age, their losses, their navigation of sex as a single parent, their sexual awakenings, and, in one case, even the tragedy of childhood abuse.

As the house lights lower, and the stage lights glow, the audience is jittery. Storytelling shows are often unpredictable. Not every great writer can tell a good story; not every great storyteller can write. It’s hard to know what’s about to happen.

The tellers place their written stories on the music stand, and read them one after another, in what becomes for the audience a combination of comedy, camaraderie, and therapy. Almost all of them—Nestor Gomez, Archy Jamjun, Adrienne Gunn, Angie McMahon, Ricardo Gamboa, Sean James Williams Parris, John Sundholm, Keith Ecker, and Owens himself—are stars on the local storytelling circuit.

The 1700 Theatre, home to Steppenwolf Theatre’s LookOut series, is presenting Owens’ brainchild, “You’re Being Ridiculous,” a show that has been a Chicago staple for almost six years. When he talks about creating one of Chicago’s most selective storytelling shows, it almost sounds like Owens did it by accident.

“I didn’t know at the time that storytelling was a thing. I just wanted to have fun and feel artistic, and offer others a place to share their voices.” Despite remnants of an Arkansas drawl, and a self-effacing laissez-faire, Owens is in control. He has developed a submission process for storytellers to partake in the show. There is a team of people who read through the stories. The team picks the best stories, then helps him put the line-up together. It is an involved process that can take many weeks.

As the tellers relay the true tales from their fascinating lives, for 8-10 minutes each, they give the audience more than just a chance to share in their lives. They prompt us to consider our own lives, to examine how we relate to the stories. By the end of the evening, the audience has shared a moment of intimacy, and the storytellers have made their impact.

You’re Being Ridiculous is part of the LookOUT series at The Steppenwolf Theatre. The next performances will take place on Feb. 9th and 10th.

An example of Being Ridiculous