Evanston to host series of open mic storytelling nights at The Celtic Knot

Joanne Lee, Reporter

Do Not Submit Chicago, a series of storytelling shows, is expanding its open mic nights across the Chicago area, including to an Evanston venue for this Sunday.

Do Not Submit says it aims to provide a supportive, judgment-free environment where people can connect with one another by sharing personal stories or listening in the audience. Started in 2012 by Scott Whitehair as a single monthly open mic on the north side of Chicago, Do Not Submit ran for two years until it could no longer perform at the venue it was using. Now it is returning with the goal of expanding to different parts of Chicago.

Do Not Submit will hold its first Evanston show April 12 at The Celtic Knot, and will hold subsequent shows at the pub the second Sunday of every month.

“(Do Not Submit) hasn’t reached out to new people in different communities and neighborhoods so we’re attempting to have places all over the city where we can have a more diverse group of people involved and have it so they don’t have to travel far to be a part of it,” Whitehair said.

The Evanston show will start at 6 p.m., but participants can show up at 5:30 p.m. to sign their names on a list. Those who share will have seven minutes to tell any story. Requiring no cover charge and no experience, Whitehair said he hopes to see people of all ages come and share their story.

“You can share part of your life with other people who really want to hear what it’s been like for you,” Whitehair said. “It’s mainly about connection. It’s how we learn about each other. It’s how we understand each other.”

The show will be co-hosted by Jim Herbert and Melissa Perrin, who Whitehair said are the driving force behind these shows. Hosts create the supportive environment for people to feel comfortable sharing their stories, according to Whitehair.

“I expect excellent stories,” Perrin said. “Excellent does not mean that they’re finished or that they’ve been perfectly crafted. It means folks have decided to take the risk to share something about themselves with the group.”

Perrin said she hopes a lot of people, both storytellers and listeners, will attend the show. Herbert, similarly, said his gut feeling is there will be a good turnout for the first show because of the large platform of the hosts and producer of Do Not Submit.

“I’m really excited to see the foundation built,” Herbert said. “Just getting everybody the chance to share what inspires them is powerful. There’s no better way to spend an evening or an afternoon.”

Other shows will be held in Chicago neighborhoods, including Englewood, Woodlawn, Pilsen, Hyde Park, Ukrainian Village, Lakeview, Old Town and Rogers Park, and Brookfield, Illinois, with more locations to be added this summer.

“I would love to see each one of these shows become a fixture in each community where it’s widely known that you can come here on this night and there will be people waiting to hear a little about your life,” Whitehair said.

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