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.

  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-


September 18: Secrets

You may have guarded it yourself – or it may have been kept from you.  Tell us about an important secret that changed you.


October 16:  Finding Bravery

When life knocked you down, where did you find strength to go on?  When fear gripped you, how did you find courage?  Stories of unexpected resilience and bravery.

September Performers TBA

August Performers:

Guest Host

Andrea Schell is a performer, writer, and producer. She played the role of Clair in Santa Monica Repertory Theater’s production of Proof and performed in the company’s staged reading summer series.   She recently performed her solo show From Seven Layers to a Bikini Top in Less Than Five Hours as part of Santa Monica Rep's Solo Series in April.  She is also in development for her next solo show.  Andrea is Associate Producer for the indie film Tiger Orange, created, produced and hosted the web show What Would Men Say? (now on and can be seen telling stories at SHINE and around LA.


Live Music

Brenda Varda is an exciting singer/songwriter as well as award-winning playwright, multidisciplinary artist, and teacher.  She’s had numerous works produced in Los Angeles both as playwright and composer/lyricist. Along with being a writer and performer both in theater and cabaret, she also creates collective works with other artists through Wordspace, a creative writer's organization.


Stacie Chaiken is a Los Angeles-based writer-performer whose solo plays include Looking for Louie, Next Year and Jerusalem, and The Dig: death, Genesis & the double helix. She has appeared in her own plays and the plays of others on Broadway and Off-Broadway and in theaters in the U.S. and abroad. She’s the founder of What’s the Story? Workshop, a Fulbright Scholar in the field of Story and Performance, and has taught at several universities.


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.


Claudia Maittlen-Harris is a writer, storyteller and comedian. She is a two-time winner of The Moth StorySLAM and has published her personal essays on, and performed at numerous storytelling shows throughout Los Angeles. She's a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, and is the editor and co-creator of the blog The Zeros Before the One dishing on dating, marriage, weddings, relationships and sex. She and her partner are in the process of turning this into a book. She has performed at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival and performed standup from LA to NYC. You can follow her @ClaudiaTalking


Shanna Micko is an actor and filmmaker living in Los Angeles. She has appeared in the HBO series Big Love, several web series, and a number of comedy shorts that you can view on Funny or Die. She is an alum of UCB and iO West, and she studied acting in Howard Fine’s master class. She is the creator of the comedy web series Leaving Bliss, which was an official selection at the New York Television Festival. Shanna has a Masters in writing from USC. Recently, she has written and directed two short films, two comedy sketches and a series pilot. 

Jim Mueller - Originally from New Mexico, Jim moved to California in 2007 and actualized a lifelong interest in film and theater. He adapted his stage play, Dewitt & Maria and in 2010, produced it as a feature film, now in distribution at Amazon Prime. In 2012, Jim produced the first Los Angeles revival of The Gin Game (directed by Tony Torrisi) and performed as Weller Martin. Jim has appeared in several scene showcases directed by Barbara Gannen at Santa Monica College and around the South Bay.  He is a member of Santa Monica Repertory Theater and has appeared in their play readings.

Burt Ross was born in New York and lived in New Jersey until two years ago, when he and his wife moved to Malibu. Burt graduated with honors from Harvard College and got his law degree at NYU Law School.  After working on Wall Street, he was elected Mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey.  Known for turning down a $500,000 bribe from the mafia, his story was told in the book “The Bribe.” Burt went on to be Administrator of the New Jersey Energy Office and then founded Burt Ross Realty Corp. Since moving to Malibu, he has written humor columns for Malibu Patch and The Malibu Times.


Scott Rubenstein is a professional writer – with 30 produced television scripts – and co-founder of his own accounting firm, LA Tax Service. He has been chosen as “Funniest Accountant in Los Angeles.”  Scott has been featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has a DVD for writers, “How to Deduct Your Writing Career.”  In television, he’s best known as story editor for Star Trek: The Next Generation.  His television writing credits include Diff’rent Strokes, Night Court, Cagney & Lacey, Benson, MacGyver and What’s Happening Now!!


Marian Silverman is a Family Therapist and Educational Psychologist who lives in Culver City. She has been a Consultant and Animal-Assisted Therapy Specialist for The People-Animal-Connection Program at the UCLA Medical Center and Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital. Marian and her working partner, Holly Go Lightly, a Golden Retriever, were the first team permitted in Neuro-Psychiatrics. She trained human-canine volunteers in therapy techniques for a psychiatric population. Marian has written articles and offered workshops related to the power of the human-animal bond. In 2014, she published a collection of stories, White Rose/Stories of Love, Loss and a Dog Named Holly available through, Kindle and Barnes & Noble ebook.


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 a Co-Founder of Santa Monica Rep, and teaches at the AMDA College and Conservatory for Performing Arts.

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

Laura Cox is an Associate Producer of SHINE.


September 18:  Secrets

Live Music:  TBA

Nick Ullett

Past Storytellers include:

Brenda Varda

Andrea Schell

Stacie Chaiken

Kellen Kaiser





Jim Mueller

Burt Ross

Scott Rubenstein

Marian Silverman

Kevin Walsh

Ruthy Otero