No, YOU Tell It! storytellers work together to develop true tales on the page, then swap stories to embody their partner’s culture, identity, and life experience on stage. Pairing up story partners to speak each other’s words aloud in a live performance empowers voices and creates a more profound sense of empathy for the storytellers and audience members. 

Our collaborative approach to storytelling values cooperation over competition. Take a look at what goes into each of our shows!

Series creator Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons brought four friends together in May 2012 for what was meant to be a one-time creative experiment. For that first show, founding member Erika Iverson wrote a raw story about her mother’s recent death. At one point in developing it, she turned to her story partner and said, “I don’t think I can read this out loud. But I can let you read it.” After the show, Erika expressed relief over facing her anger “by proxy” and gratitude to her story partner for being willing to go through the experience for her. We knew that night we had something special in No, YOU Tell It!, and Erika stayed on the creative team as a story director and dramaturg. 

Since then, we have produced more than 50 live shows, worked with over 200 artists from varied disciplines (authors, actors, educators, poets, comedians, visual artists, photographers, musicians, and more), as well as encouraged people who might not have experience writing, performing, or both, to tell their stories. Audiences witness the community created when story partners help each other share the stories that need to be told.

We celebrated ten years of switched-up storytelling with the launch of the No, YOU Tell It! Ten-Year Anthology from Palm Circle Press. This collection of story swaps is not a “best of” but a showcase of how our collaborative process makes writing and performing personal narratives accessible, empathetic, and transformative. The result is a vibrant anthology that illustrates the history and development of the series over the past decade.

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