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The storytelling tribes assemble for Fillet of Solo

This year's festival, the 17th, presents 13 collectives and ten independent performers.

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They call Fillet of Solo a festival, but it's more like an annual gathering of the tribes. Thirteen Chicago storytelling "collectives" are set to convene this month to celebrate the art and craft of performing personal histories. Produced by Lifeline Theatre, the fest's 17th incarnation also features ten independent performers. The whole thing unfolds over three weekends at the Lifeline and Heartland Studio spaces, located about a block from each other in east Rogers Park. For details—including information on the "What's Your Story" workshop (Sun 1/12, 4 PM) and the "Friends With Words" panel discussion (Fri 1/17, 7 PM)—check the schedule at lifelinetheatre.com. Some probable highlights:

Fillet's undisputed tribal elders are the six Sweat Girls, who've collaborated for more than two decades. Their show Sweat Girls Size Up the New Normal (Sun 1/5, 4 PM; Sat 1/11, 9 PM; Sun 1/19, 6 PM) comprises meditations on such age-appropriate subjects as eldercare, physical therapy, retirement, and dissecting "fun like a frog." On the other end of the age spectrum is another all-women troupe, the Kates (Fri 1/3, 7 PM; Fri 1/17, 9 PM), best known for their stand-up comedy.

In the spirit of hyperlocalism, this year's Fillet offers a "Five From Rogers Park" minifest (Sat 1/4, 6 PM; Sun 1/12, 5 PM) that's also women only. Liz Baudler, Eve Brownstone, Katherine Chronis, Jade Huell, Amanda Rountree, and Betsy Vandercook contribute work. Jamie Black's separate show provides a bit of sexual balance, I guess: the female-to-male transgender artist presents It's My Penis and I'll Cry If I Want To (Fri 1/3, 8 PM; Sat 1/11, 6 PM).

At once great and small, Tekki Lomnicki is a monologist whose creations often focus on her life as a dwarf. Her piece of Fillet (Sat 1/11, 5 PM; Sun 1/19 4 PM) is studded with guest artists—including Chicago fringe favorite Barrie Cole—dealing with the notion of Home. 2nd Story has been putting on "story-sharing experiences" since 2002; here, they've got members performing two shows. Julie Ganey gives us Love Thy Neighbor . . . Till It Hurts (Sat 1/4, 5 PM)—about moving her white, middle-class family to a racially and economically diverse neighborhood—while Nick Ward supplies The Backyard (Sat 1/18, 6 PM), described as an exploration of "the building, breaking, and remaking of a close friendship; the effects of death on those left behind; and the enduring power of rock 'n' roll." And for those who think it just isn't interesting until it's competitive, there's Write Club (Sat 1/4 and 1/18, 9 PM; Fri 1/10, 7 PM), in which "audacious and fearsome writer/performers" do battle wielding seven-minute stories.

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