On a warm Wednesday night in August, a group of 50 or so gathered in a back room of Powell’s Bookstore.
Audience members sat on metal chairs drinking wine out of plastic cups, watching as one person got up on a makeshift bowling-alley stage and told a story.
This is Guts and Glory. A bare-bones, bare-all storytelling showcase that began in 2012.
Performers from all over Chicago share personal stories that strike you in the heart—they cover loneliness and love, breakups and breakdowns, pain and growth, addiction and moving on—with humor generously sprinkled in (one performer brought down the house with a vignette about house-sitting in your 30s.)
“Badass storytelling is what we call it,” said Keith Ecker, founder of Guts and Glory. “I wanted something that forces people to tell stories that require vulnerability, that require putting their neck out there.”
The stories hit you in the gut, and Ecker says this is part of the goal.
“It really resonates with the audience, I think everyone leaves just touched in some way,” Ecker said. “We want to highlight what all those shared experiences mean that we all go through and don’t talk about.”
Donations from the free BYOB event benefit PAWS and 826 Chicago. Their next show—and one-year anniversary—is scheduled for Sept. 18th at 7 p.m. at Powell’s.