About No, YOU Tell It!

Write your story. Perform someone else’s.

No, YOU Tell It! is a nonfiction reading series that advocates for authentic personal stories by having storytellers speak each other’s words aloud, empowering their voices on the page and stage. Our collaborative workshop process equips writers of all levels with literary tools to elevate the impact of their words.

Switching stories to embody each other’s experience in a live performance creates stronger empathetic connections for both the storytellers and audience members.

For each show, the NYTI team — Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons, Mike Dressel, and Erika Iverson — lead four storytellers through two writing workshop sessions to tell their true-life tale on the page. Then about a week before the show, we pair up our storytellers and ask them to trade scripts. When one of our storytellers speaks their partner’s piece aloud, it does two important things: One, it gives that storyteller a chance to step into another person’s shoes. Two, the writer hears their own story in a different voice. Everyone gains new insight into their writing and storytelling as they share these true-life tales with our live audience and podcast listeners.

The No, YOU Tell It! Team

Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons
Creator and Producer
Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons is a writer, teacher, and storyteller. Her recent nonfiction work has appeared in Hippocampus Magazine, Marie Claire, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Literary Review (TLR), Newtown Literary, and she is a 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her superhero comedy, All I Want Is One More Meanwhile... recently made its Midwest premiere at Otherworld Theatre in Chicago. After earning her MFA in creative nonfiction from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Kelly Jean combined her love for theater and literature to create No, YOU Tell It! Follow Kelly Jean on Twitter @KJ_Fitzsimmons
Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons WebsiteKelly Jean Fitzsimmons Twitter
Mike Dressel
Producer and Director
Mike Dressel is a writer whose work has appeared in Burning House Press, Jellyfish Review, Litbreak, Chelsea Station, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn, among others, as well as in the anthologies Best Gay Stories 2016 and Best Gay Stories 2017. He was a frequent guest judge for the flash fiction reading series The Prose Bowl, and a panelist on the live comedy news show Fight the Feed. He teaches at The City College of New York.
Mike Dressel WebsiteMike Dressel Twitter
Erika Iverson
Director and Dramaturg
Erika Iverson is a New York based theatre artist and storyteller. She is proud to be part of the creative team at No, YOU Tell It! where she serves as director, dramaturg, and cheerleader for non-linear storytelling. In recent years Erika has performed at La MaMa ETC, The Cornelia Street Café, Fez, the Abington Theatre Company, The Knitting Factory, and Judson Street Church, created original roles with the Magis Theatre Company and This Is Not A Theatre Company, and directed for One Woman Standing and the United Solo Festival.
Email Erika IversonErika Iverson Twitter

Testimonials

NYTI: "Wild Card"
September 19, 2014
    

No, YOU Tell It! was my first storytelling experience--my first time standing up in front of a crowd delivering a story. And because of NYTI, I feel as though I've found my passion. I have gone on to perform in storytelling events after NYTI, including several Moth StorySlams. With each performance I become more and more comfortable with my storytelling skills, and I give credit every time to NYTI--they lit the spark!

NYTI: "Uproar"
November 21, 2014
    

I had a wonderful experience working with Kelly Jean, Erika, and Mike. Being exposed to the processes of the other writers in our group was valuable and enlightening, and I know my own work benefited greatly from our conversations around the table. I was particularly taken with the public reading event itself, attended by a supportive and enthusiastic audience, in an atmosphere of warmth and levity. I would gladly participate in No, YOU Tell It! again, and would recommend the experience to anyone who's interested in writing or storytelling.

NYTI: "Revival"
April 15, 2015
    

I found the most frustrating part of writing stories, memoirs, anecdotes is repeating the same voice without a grasp of how I sound.  I came across No, YOU Tell It! by accident and it proved to be super valuable for hearing the voice and rhythm in my story. After the first session and hearing someone read my piece I was able to chop off some bad habits I had developed (mostly dealing with the flow of words and poorly placed humor). The breakdown of sessions helped develop the themes I was overlooking from the piece and find a strong balance between humor and grounded narrative.

The most valuable piece of No, YOU Tell It! was literally hearing work read and interpreted by different participants each week, ultimately being performed and curated by a different performer - a very, very unique opportunity.  It's had a very positive effect on the development of further work.

NYTI "Blanked"
September 27, 2016
    

I found the entire process of the No, YOU Tell It! series to be incredibly valuable. The workshopping aspect of it allowed me to view my essay from a number of different angles, and having readers with a variety of backgrounds helped to make the piece stronger. And there's something about hearing a piece you wrote read by someone else that allows you to see it in a new light, exposing new facets of it that I might not have been aware of otherwise. 

NYTI: "Blanked"
September 27, 2016
    

As a playwright and lyricist, I hadn't penned a short story since grade school. I also hadn't performed since my first year out of college, but No, You Tell It! was the perfect place to get back to both! The feedback from the NYTI team and my fellow writers helped me to craft a story I was thrilled to share, and reading the other artists' work was an absolute privilege. NYTI is a wonderful meeting of talent and a celebration of the purity of writing.

NYTI "aMUSE"
September 17, 2019

I was delighted to participate in No, YOU Tell It! “aMuse” for the Brooklyn Book Festival’s Bookend Event. I loved the process of NYTI: from the welcoming—and hilarious—round-table editing sessions, to rehearsing with Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons, to the standing-room-only performance itself.
The NYTI team—Kelly Jean, Mike Dressel, and Erika Iverson—are fantastically organized and focused, and provide an encouraging and spirited space for the writer-performers to create and grow. I look forward to attending future events!

NYTI "aMUSE"
September 17, 2019

When I walked into the No, YOU Tell It! editing session, I felt a lot of trepidation. Why had I agreed to do this? Who was I to even attempt a prose form? A performance piece? Why did I think I deserved to have any kind of attention? Nevertheless, I stepped through that door and was so richly rewarded for that small act of courage.

What a pleasure and nourishment it was to be a NYTI storyteller! My work was read with a gracious and astute lens, and the comments and suggestions I received were instrumental in shaping the final piece into something compelling and true to the emotions I sought to convey.

In addition, immersing yourself in someone else’s work was incredibly edifying. I was paired with Carolyn Castiglia, and she is such a deft, comedic writer. Spending time with her piece taught me so much about voice and tone, building characters, and shifting perspectives. Under Erika Iverson’s expert direction, I was able to access elements in Carolyn’s text that I hadn’t understood before. It was an absolute delight to perform her story. It was an absolute delight to witness Ellie Dunn’s and Helene Fisher’s partnership as well. To see all of us flex so many different artistic muscles.

I came to No, You Tell It as a relative newcomer on the scene. I haven’t been writing seriously for very long. I don’t have an extensive network of writers and artists. Now, I feel so fortunate to have made these connections with everyone at No, You Tell It. Everyone is so encouraging and supportive of our work. I’ve found many muses, and I feel so bolstered and confident by my experiences at No, You Tell It. As an emerging writer, I cannot express how vital this support has been to my ongoing work. Thank you, Kelly Jean, Erika, and Mike! You are making a thriving space for everyone lucky enough to fall into your orbits.

NYTI "Coming & Going"
September 30, 2020
I've done many storytelling shows, but I've never had an experience quite like this! It was so great to not only get to workshop a story, but to also have a chance to hear my story coming out of someone else's mouth. Not to mention how great it was to tell another person's story and feel so connected with the author. In addition, I really appreciated the directing aspects, which helped me better inhabit the story. I'd highly recommend both attending the show and participating in it!
I found it to be a powerful experience. And especially during this pandemic time, I valued the chance to both be creative and connect with other artists to create a really moving show.