February 25 and 27


The Best Defense is a Good Offense - A story of my son’s request for my advice on the eve of his job interview for a teaching position.

Joel Altschul has lived in Santa Barbara since 2007. He and his wife, Lynn, have three children, Jason, Sarah, and Jon as well as four grandchildren. When they came to Santa Barbara to get out of the Chicago winter, little did they know that Santa Barbara would become their home away from home. Joel built his career in educational publishing, which culminated in the sale of his company to Discovery Communications. He and his wife continue to spend summers in their home on Lake Michigan two hours east of Chicago. This story is dedicated to Lynn and Jon.




February 25 and 27


Gravity, No Engines - A thirteen-year-old girl witnesses a jet plane crash into her childhood.

Susan Chiavelli’s story (Gravity, No Engines) appeared in The Louisville Review (fall, 2013). She is the recipient of the Chattahoochee Review’s Lamar York Nonfiction Prize for Death, Another Country, and a “Notable Essay” designation by Best American Essays.  Susan’s award winning prose and poetry have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, New Millennium Writings, Minnetonka Review, Other Voices, bosque,  Library Book, Miramar, Rattle; the poetry anthologies: Buzz, Rare Feathers, To Give Life a Shape, and elsewhere.  A native of Seattle, Washington, she lives with her husband, Dennis Chiavelli, in the foothills of Santa Barbara.




February 25 and 27


I Have a Granddaughter - Expresses the imagery of moments, memories and the making of new memories after loss as the circle of life continues.

Susan Cochran grew up in the San Fernando Valley and earned a B.A. in English from SDSU and a Teaching Credential from SJSU. While working in administration at UCSB, she expressed her creativity through quilt art, writing and painting. Her book, In the Sea of Grief and Love, chronicles her challenges and successes following the sudden death of her husband. This creative work takes the reader through the first shock of an unprepared heart to learning to live fully with an open heart filled with acceptance and loving memories. Susan’s poetry is used to help those healing from loss.



February 25 and 27


Body Parts - From #MeToo to #YesYou

Lisa Gates is a leadership coach and the co-founder of She Negotiates, a company committed to ending the income and leadership gaps for women by helping them become bolder, braver and better paid. She holds a BFA in Dramatic Arts and spent her early career doing theatre and improv while paying the bills with marketing, public relations and freelance writing gigs. Lisa was last seen in Ellen Anderson’s The Forests of Detroit, and this is her second performance with Speaking of Stories.

February 25 and 27


Cloud Watching - When three young siblings are left in the care of an unloving babysitter, the simple games they play provide some much-needed escape from the realities of their back yard world.

Cami Helmuth has performed on local stages for many years, portraying a variety of characters (some favorites include Jane in Calamity Jane and Butch in Shooting Stars at the Alcazar Theater, and Elvira in Blithe Spirit and Annie Quackenbush in Face on the Barroom Floor at Circle Bar B Dinner Theater), but this is her first opportunity to portray…herself. This is her first Speaking of Stories performance, and she is honored to have this deeply personal (and difficult to tell) story finally see the light of day. She thanks Maggie for her sensitive direction, and her hubby, John, for everything else.




February 25 and 27


The Year I Failed Women’s Studies - It’s one of a series of non-chronological personal stories intended to represent chapters of her life. This story comes from 1994, Michelle’s junior year at UCSB.

Michelle Howard identifies as a writer and works as a non-profit grant writer and fundraiser in her day job. Her prized possessions include an autographed first edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan. Eric Utne, founder of Utne Reader Magazine, says author Michelle Howard’s writing “strikes me as a cross between Anna Quindlen and Pipi Longstockings. Like Quindlen, Michelle sees the personal as political, writes clearly and simply, and brings complex social issues alive through personal anecdotes.”




February 25 and 27


I Come From - An ode to the author’s hometown.

Tania Israel is an occasional playwright, as well as a lyricist, activist, and professor. She periodically plays characters other than herself, but mostly she has written and performed as Tania in Conversations with Contraception and For Agnes (Speaking of Stories - Breakfast with Smartasses), Always the Bride and Santa Barbara Dreaming (Speaking of Stories – Personal Stories), and TED Talk, Bisexuality and Beyond. She is grateful that Speaking of Stories has offered her another opportunity to reflect on and share a piece of her life.




February 25 and 27


Straight To Gay - A young man sets out on a journey to figure out why and how -- but mostly why -- he keeps falling in love with straight men.

Noah Lashly is a writer and performer from Ojai, California. He graduated from Hendrix College with a degree in English. His story D.D.S. has been published in the Aonian Literary Magazine, featured at Kim Maxwell Studio, at Speaking of Stories in 2016, and on The Townies Podcast. He was the Creator and Co-host of The Comedy/Party Thing, Hendrix College's only opportunity for performing stand-up comedy. His short films won awards for “Most Affective” and “Stylistic Brilliance” at the Red Brick Film Festival. He is co-creating a web series, titled "Homecoming" which will be available soon.




February 25 and 27


The Killer in the Closet - Acting can be fun, educational and very gratifying . . . until something goes wrong. Then it becomes something entirely different.

Tony Miratti - is a native of Santa Barbara. He attended the Pasadena Playhouse College of Theatre Arts and is a member of the final graduating class of the college. In his New York stage debut, Tony won the New York OBIE Award for Best Actor and, over the last 25 years: Best Supporting Actor Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, Drama Logue and L.A. Weekly Awards, Santa Barbara Independent Awards, and is the recipient of the 2003 Arts Fund Individual Artist Award for his performances.  He is a lifetime member of both the Ensemble Studio Theater in New York and the Company of Angels in Los Angeles.



February 25 and 27

Angie Swanson-Kyriaco

Denial, Depression, & Dysfunction: The ‘90s Edition - Living in denial, facing reality, and processing loss and complicated grief to the tunes of the ‘90s.

Angie Swanson-Kyriaco is delighted for her debut in Speaking of Stories. She has a Master’s degree in psychology and has worked in the nonprofit sector for over a decade. She is the birth mother to a wonderful millennial daughter and is grateful to be in reunion with her since 2013. In her spare time, she volunteers with an organization that provides supportive services for birth mothers post-placement. Angie is still trying to figure out her tennis serve, loves art and writing, takes too many photos of her cats, and thinks humor and laughter is a nearly perfect panacea.




This Project is funded in part by the Organizational Development Grant Program using Funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture.

Copyright 2019 Speaking of Stories Web design by Nathan Quinney