at the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside

2019 14th Street, Santa Monica CA 90405

Listen to inspiring true stories from professional and amateur storytellers.  

Volunteer to share your own.

Doors Open at 7:30 for Guest Storyteller sign up, music and mingling.  Stories start at 8.

$10 Suggested Donation

This monthly night of stories features 10 storytellers and live musicians who make stories into music.  Most storytellers are *invited and pre-booked, but there will be two open slots at each event for audience members to put their names into a hat for selection at the door to be Guest Storytellers.

“The cast of storytellers certainly conveyed a variety of lessons throughout the over two-hour evening to an appreciative audience.” Nadine Wright, Life in LA

“It feels like professional storytellers are reading you Chicken Soup for the Soul–-something you may not know you want until it happens...Like having your parents read you a story before bed, SHINE! can have a comforting and settling effect on an otherwise hectic evening in Los Angeles.” Jenna Pittaway, Life in LA

SHINE is Featured in Culture Watch: Stories We Tell

by Sarah Spitz, Santa Monica Daily Press

Invite friends or RSVP on Facebook

Story Guidelines:

  1. 1. If you'd like to be an *invited storyteller for SHINE, you must submit a story and bio three weeks in advance of your desired date to the event host Isabel Storey at If you miss the deadline, you can put your name into the hat for one of the two volunteer spots at the event.

*Note: Isabel Storey will be curating stories and hosting the event after February; please email her directly at

  1. 2.Use the theme (see below) to shape a story about a revelation or a-ha moment that your experience led you...the moment you put down the baggage and felt the freedom of insight.  We are interested in the positive life changes that arrive from story crafting, telling and listening.  Please note this is about STORIES- this is not a platform to vent, complain, or test a motivational speech- this is where you share the story of a moment that opened you to growth, self-discovery, a new opportunity. 

  1. 3.The most successful storytellers for this event have been honest, authentic and surprising with a clear beginning, middle and ending “aha”.

  1. 4.Each story must be true to the teller as first person or witness, and under 7 minutes long.  We will ring a warning bell at 6 minutes, cut off at 7.

  1. 5.Teller's choice- Stories can be read off a page, or told without any notes at all.  


SHINE upcoming event dates & themes-

April 17: Taking the Plunge

Your dreamed about it for years – and finally decided to do it.  Or you saw a sudden opportunity and went for it.  What did it feel like to take the plunge – and what was the result?

May 15:  Letting Go

A relationship. A job. An old hurt. An image of yourself. What did you decide to release – and what happened then?

June 19:  Peak Experiences

Maybe it literally was climbing a mountain…or reaching a lifelong goal, a memorable vacation, or unexpected bliss.  What as one of your peak experiences?  How did it come to happen, or what did you learn from it? 

April Performers:

Live Music

Bray Ghiglia is a dynamic and versatile performer who grew up in Los Angeles. A working musician since high school, he has performed in L.A. clubs such as Gazzarri’s, the Troubador and the Sagebrush Cantina.  He toured extensively in the U.S and Canada with The Roberts/Meisner Band (Rick Roberts of Firefall and Randy Meisner of the Eagles), playing flute, sax, guitar, keyboards and singing. The band also performed several of Ghiglia’s songs.  After a stint in Colorado teaching music, he returned to Los Angeles to continue studies in film scoring and psychology. He received a Bachelor of Music from California State University, Northridge and is currently teaching, doing gigs and producing film scores.


Sarah Fazeli is an Ohio-born writer and actress. She holds an MFA from CalArts.  Her essays, memoir, and opinion pieces appear weekly on Other work, including creative non-fiction and poetry, appears in A Cup of Comfort for Christmas, Girlwise, Zenith, Fierce and Nerdy, and You Are Here, a Writegirl Anthology. She has interned for BBC’s Radio Drama division, as well as the Royal Court Theatre in London. She wrote and performed a woman show, Of Wonderbras & Haagen-Dazs, a “tour de farce” exploring beauty, sex, and full-fat ice cream, and has studied acting with William H. Macy, David Mamet, and Felicity Huffman.

Mitch Goldstrom was born in the “wasteland” formerly known as Detroit.  Upon his birth, he uttered the phrase "Detroit. Really?! "   He graduated from Western Michigan University with a B.S. in Computer Science. Mitch moved to L.A. in 1995 and became Director of Technology at an internet radio startup working with such online radio stations as and During this time, he met Ann Marie Tullo whom he eventually married. Mitch started at Google in 2006 and is still there today. From time to time, Mitch donates his photography skills as well as technical advice to Santa Monica Rep and is proud to be a part of the family.


Lee Gale Gruen has lived in Los Angeles since childhood.  She has two children and three grandchildren.  She graduated college from UCLA and had a 37-year career as a probation officer.  She started acting 12 years ago, and has appeared in commercials, film, television, theater, and print.  Her transition to becoming an actress in her senior years has been written about in Time magazine and the Los Angeles Times.  Her memoir is Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter's Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. She blogs under the title: "Reinventing Myself in My Senior Years" to inspire Baby Boomers and seniors to find a passion as a motivation to embrace life.


Kellen Kaiser was born in San Francisco. She is loved and supported by her four lesbian mothers and one younger brother. As a child, she frequently represented the gay community as a speaker on panels and in the media. Her story has appeared on CNN, in Marie Claire and in the Seattle Times. Kellen attended NYU Tisch where she founded a dialogue group about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is still in existence. She is an actress, as well as an avid blogger and is working on her first book, Moms and Bombs:Lesbians, Israel and Love.


Amy Levinson is the Artistic Associate and Literary Director at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.  As a dramaturg, Amy has overseen over fifty productions including the commissions and world premieres of Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still and Jane Anderson’s The Quality of Life.  She has worked with numerous writers on premiere productions including Neil Simon, David Rambo, Neil LaBute and Jeffrey Hatcher.  Production dramaturgy credits include The Weir, Wait Until Dark, Atlanta, Boy Gets Girl, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Equivocation and Extraordinary Chambers.   She holds an MFA in dramaturgy from The University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Glen Merzer is an author, playwright, and screenwriter. He has had dozens of productions of his plays throughout the country, including two at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Three of his plays have been published by Samuel French.  Merzer directed his play, The Sizemore Interviews, in Hollywood in 2001. Merzer is co-author, with Howard Lyman, of Mad Cowboy and No More Bull!.  He is also co-author of Unprocessed, by Chef AJ; Food over Medicine with Pam Popper; and Better Than Vegan with Chef Del Sroufe.  He is also a lead editor of The HappyCow Cookbook, a vegan cookbook to be released in June.


Bernard Sklar has been writing stories since he was ten years old.  His first job was a reader at the Scott-Meredith Literary Agency in New York City.  But his checkered career followed a very different path, a Ph.D. in engineering from UCLA, where he still teaches.  Since 1984, his consulting company, Communications Engineering Services, has kept him moving around the world.  Now that he is mostly retired, he has time for being a student at Santa Monica Emeritus College, and for doing volunteer work at the WISE and Healthy Aging Center.  Best of all, he can now pursue his original passion, writing stories.


David Ivan Temianka has been telling stories to children and his own two boys for the last 15 years, but he is a relative newcomer to public story readings and performances. He is putting together a collection of his stories and essays for publication, and recording them as podcasts.  David is also an accomplished photographer and multimedia artist.  Recognized for his unique "Electric Paintings,” these limited edition artworks are in a number of collections and have been exhibited in several galleries. David brings an undaunted curiosity to all his endeavors, both literary and artistic. The underlying concept in all his work is the same: Tell the Truth!


Claire Winters spent several years acting in New York and regional theater before making the move west. Highlights include Enrico IV at American Conservatory Theater, developing a new work at The Guthrie Lab, and a season of Shakespeare ingenues at Shakespeare Sedona. She played Philip Seymour Hoffman's daughter in the HBO miniseries Empire Falls, and her recent television credits include appearances on The Mentalist and The Bold and The Beautiful. Claire was co-founder of the influential acting blog You can learn more about her work at


This event is a co-produced by Jen Bloom and Isabel Storey, and presented by Santa Monica Rep, Storey Productions, UCLArts & Healing and the Westside YWCA

Jen Bloom is an Associate Producer of SHINE.  She is the Co-Founder and Director of Education and Outreach at Santa Monica Rep, and teaches at the AMDA College and Conservatory for Performing Arts.

Isabel Storey is the co-producer and co-curator of SHINE.  She is also a theater producer and President of Storey Productions, a production company specializing in live theater.

Laura Cox and Sarah Fazeli are Associate Producers of SHINE.


April 17: Taking the Plunge

Live Music: Bray Ghiglia

Jim Mueller

Cindy Marie Jenkins

Stacie Chaiken

Joe Hernandez-Kolski

Past Storytellers include:

Lee Gale Gruen

Kellen Kaiser

Amy Levinson

Glen Merzer

Bernard Sklar

David Ivan Temianka

Claire Winters

Sarah Fazeli

Bray Ghiglia

Mitch Goldstrom