At 2nd Story, you are going to feel something.

Our Mission & Vision

We want to live in a world driven by empathy.

We believe that stories are what bind us to each other.

Therefore, we create spaces where people can share and deeply listen to one another’s stories.

“Lately, I find the immediacy of the storytelling at 2nd Story to be more nourishing to the soul than the theater.”
— 2nd Story Audience Member

Our Core Values

INCLUSION: We believe our lives and stories are richer when everyone is at the table.

CRAFT: We believe in approaching our work with skill and thoughtfulness.

COURAGE: We believe that creating change in the world takes fearlessness and grit. 

Our Mission in action

We host events in and around Chicago that elevate the storyteller’s words to deliver a unique, live, literary/theatrical experience unlike any other in the city. From small bars in Rogers Park and North Center, to big venues in Lakeview and the West Loop, to restaurants in Lincoln Park and Evanston, we produce over 50 events every season and facilitates over 145 artistic collaborations. 

We craft story-sharing experiences in the form of both performances and workshops and classes. A typical show or event consists of several stories dispersed throughout the evening like courses of a meal. The stories range from the earnest and serious to the light-hearted and humorous, and can simultaneously provoke and entertain.

Our venues are as varied as our stories, and run the gamut from intimate wine bars and pubs to spacious performance halls, conference rooms, and open-office environments. Our storytellers are equally diverse, and come from all walks of life: a pastor, a bartender, a child psychiatrist, and a lawyer…their individual stories help to bridge the gap between the personal and the universal, and break down the walls between and unite artists and audiences in and among different communities. 

“The best stories I’ve ever heard come from hanging out with friends over a good bottle of wine. That’s when people really start talking, really get to the meat of their experiences—the wild beauty of it all, the destruction and the hope. That’s the feeling we’re going for: the crowd at 2nd Story has the intimacy of my own living room and the crazy, wine-warm secrets that have been told there.”
— Megan Stielstra, 2nd Story Company Member

What We've Achieved

  • April 2nd, 1999: Organization founded as Serendipity Theatre Company.

  • 1999-2007: Each season we produced three plays, all of which were world premieres.

  • 2004: We produced the first annual 2nd Story Festival, which featured 13 tellers telling 17 stories over the course of 8 evenings. The festival ran for 7 years, growing each year. The final festival in 2010 featured 51 tellers telling 56 stories over the course of 14 evenings.

  • 2006: Due to popular demand (the once-a-year festival was just not enough!) 2nd Story launched a Monthly Series.

  • 2007: After a serious heart-to-heart, the organization stopped producing plays, focused entirely on storytelling, and started doing business as 2nd Story.

  • 2008: Launched the 2nd Story Podcast!

  • 2010: 2nd Story toured to Portland, OR, and Richland, WA.

  • 2011: 2nd Story launched an Education Program, offering classes and workshops for the public

  • 2011: 2nd Story moved to doing on-going, year-round programming in lieu of a once-a-year festival.

  • 2012: 2nd Story published an anthology, Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck, and did a book tour to Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, St. Louis, and Los Angeles.

  • 2014: 2nd Story received a Theatre Seven Legacy Gift and launched a Scholarship program for Classes & Workshops

  • 2015: 2nd Story received the SMARTGrowth Grant from the Chicago Community Trust.

  • November 15, 2016: 2nd Story moved to its new home in Albany Park, a storefront located at the corner of Lawrence and Sacramento.

  • September 2017: The 2nd Story Board approves transitioning the leadership from 1099 freelance contracts to W2 salaried employees.

  • November 1, 2017: 2nd Story hosted its first ever Story Soirée at The Flower Firm in West Town.