Janna produces, curates and co-hosts the beloved storytelling event Here Chicago
. As Artistic Director, it's her priority to bring people together across professional, social, and economic lines that sometimes separate. Here Chicago
features true stories from invited guests and from the audience, along with a giant potluck dinner. It fosters the arts of sharing and listening in a way that is more honest and artful than public exchange usually allows. The show also raises the standard for creative solo performance in Chicago by cultivating a diverse, intelligent audience and soliciting their feedback. People regularly call these shows magical, and describe feeling changed by them.
As a member of the Real Talk Collective, she also co-produced the legendary monthly variety show, Real Talk Live
. After a 7-year run and the show's Viking Funeral, the Collective continues to serve and support the work of individual members. Laura Yes Yes, J.W. Basillo, Reggie Eldridge, Roger Bonair-Agard, Emily Rose Kahn-Shehan, Lawrence Binky Tolefree, Sage Morgan Hubbard, Robert Brown, Britteny Kapri and Asia Calcagno are all current and past RT members. Discussion of a new event is in the works... so stay tuned.
Janna leads both public and private games of Intuitive Treasure Hunter.
ITH is a game that can be played anywhere in the world where it is safe to explore, and with any number of people above three. The game starts with a promise and ends with a treasure. Janna created ITH in 2005 as a way to help teenagers preserve open access to their creative impulses, during years when that access sometimes gets shut down. Since then it has been shared with people of all ages, from many parts of the world, and serves to both strengthen communities and increase self-trust. The game was recently used to open the iO Improv Intensives (photo above). To attend an upcoming Chicago game, click here
"Janna Sobel creates thoughtful, well-laid out
evenings of professional kickassery and, at the exact same time, manages to
make it feel like a warm night in her home. No one I know other than
Janna can do that."
~Don Hall, Host of the Chicago Moth, and Production Manager for
NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
"People talk about community all of the time and Janna lives it, she radiates it. She creates an environment where even the most frightened find
strength to tell. She opens doors for people to change the way they connect to
others; in real, grounded and respectful ways. She opens her self in a way
that shows all of us it's okay to do the same. Here Chicago has become my default “you
must go see this show” for storytelling, and she's the reason why."
~Deanna Moffitt, Co-Founder of This Much is True
"Your warmth and genuine good will and- honestly- love for everyone around you has been moving and inspirational. I absolutely love performing at Here, Chicago, no matter the location, and I believe it is mostly due to the environment you have created. Your show is a home for creativity, community and love, and I am so proud to say I could be a part of it. Thank you for creating an amazing space."
, Storyteller, Game Designer
creates, curates, and hosts with fierce brainpower and
love. She is at once lioness and mama bird: hunting stories and spirits, gently
guiding new performers, and challenging some of the top tellers in the
city. When this woman introduces you, you know without a doubt that you
have something worthwhile to say."
Douglass, Storyteller, Activist and Teacher