‘Divercity,’ a storytelling event featuring people with disabilities, to be held June 21—23

(Published June 21, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

New Eastside resident Tekki Lomnicki, the founder of Tellin’ Tales Theatre, announced the annual “Divercity” performance will be held June 21 through 23 at the Prop Thtr, 3502 N. Elston.

The shows feature individuals with disabilities telling stories about their disabilities. There are seven performers—including Lomnicki—in this year’s lineup.

Lomnicki founded Tellin’ Tales in 1996 as a way to help people with disabilities communicate their stories with others.

“We give adults with physical and emotional disabilities such as bipolar disorder and depression a chance to tell their stories and be on stage,” she said. “There aren’t enough actors with disabilities on stage.”

The fundraiser for the Tellin’ Tales Theatre, which offers storytelling classes for people with disabilities,includes performers from New Eastside as well as from the whole of Chicagoland.

“Telling our stories is the best connection we have to people,” Lomnicki said. Lomnicki also stages the stories so actors with disabilities can perform the scenes while the storyteller performs on stage.

The stories are personal. Lomnicki  said one performer, Linda Bannon, has no arms, and her son, 12, was also born without arms.

“She told her son, ‘you just have to push through this,’” Lomnicki said.

Other stories are humorous. Lomnicki said one storyteller has cerebral palsy and has slurred speech as part of his disability.

“He has problems going to bars because bouncers think he’s drunk and so he’s like, ‘this is just the way I talk,’” she said.

She said her free storytelling classes are so popular among the community of disabled people, she has to limit students to two years in a row in order to make room for new students. Besides a chance to get on stage, the classes allow students to constructively criticize others in the class.

“What’s really neat is people in the classes give feedback to each other,” she said. This helps students develop their own stories, as well as helping others.

Tickets, available at tellintales.org, are $20 or $15 for students and people with disabilities. Anyone interested in signing up for a course next year can email Lomnicki at tellintalestheatre@gmail.com.

Lomnicki said the theater company accepts donations at their website, tellintales.org and after June 25 the group will have a crowdfunding fundraiser at 3Arts.org/projects.

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