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An Evening of Storytelling with Speak Up – From the Porch

August 18, 6:00 pm

Speak Up brings their widely acclaimed storytelling show to Hill-Stead’s Veranda. Founder Matthew Dicks is a record 51-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 6-time GrandSLAM champion. His stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast. Speak Up’s co-founder, Elysha Dicks, serves as the evening’s host, and Matt will be one of the featured professional and amateur storytellers sharing true stories from their lives.

Bring a blanket, chairs, and a picnic.


6 pm        Gates open
6:30 pm   Performance begins

Rain Date: Thursday, August 19


In person tickets  |  $15 per person
Seating is limited and we strongly advise attendees to purchase tickets in advance. Any available tickets sold at the gate will be by credit card only.

Livestream Ticket  |  $5 per household
Tune in live from the comforts of your own backyard or couch!
Purchase livestream tickets here

See all upcoming From the Porch events in our Calendar.

Elysha Dicks is the co-founder, Executive Director, and host of Speak Up and also the co-host of the Speak Up Storytelling Podcast. Elysha recently returned to her first love, teaching, and now spends her days ushering her kindergarteners towards hard work and kindness. Elysha likes dark roasts, hates cilantro, and can regularly be found strumming her ukulele or baking a challah.

Matthew Dicks is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing, Unexpectedly, Milo, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, Twenty-one Truths About Love, The Other Mother and the nonfiction title Storyworthy: Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life Through the Art of Storytelling. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages worldwide. He is also the author of the rock opera The Clowns and musicals Caught in the Middle, Sticks & Stones, and Summertime. He is an advice columnist for Slate magazine and the humor columnist for Seasons magazine. He has written comic books for DoubleTake Comics.

When not hunched over a computer screen, he fills his days as an elementary school teacher, storyteller, blogger, wedding DJ, minister, storytelling and communications consultant, and life coach. He has been teaching for 21 years and is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

Matthew is a record 51-time Moth StorySLAM champion and 6-time GrandSLAM champion whose stories have been featured on their nationally syndicated Moth Radio Hour and their weekly podcast.

Matthew is also the founder and creative director of Speak Up, a Hartford-based storytelling organization that produces shows throughout New England. He teaches storytelling and public speaking throughout the world to individuals, corporations, school districts, hospitals, universities, and more. He has most recently taught at Yale, MIT, the University of Connecticut Law School, Yale New Haven Hospital, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Mohawk Nation of Canada, and Graded School in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Christina Fedolfi is a 4th-grade teacher who went into teaching so she could be on stage all day, every day. The youngest of six children, Christina developed her storytelling as a way to get attention from her frazzled parents and siblings. Her superpower is being able to stay present in the moment, not worrying about the future or the past. She has told a few stories on the Speak Up stage and is thrilled it is back in person.

Chris Kriesen is excited to return for his eighth telling with Speak Up. He is an attorney and has a storytelling consultancy. His first story with Speak Up was about how he did not have the courage to go to Istanbul thirty years ago. Now he will tell the story of how, when he found the courage to go to Istanbul two years ago, things went disastrously wrong.

Jeni Bonaldo lives in Bethany, Connecticut with her husband Mike and daughters Ella and Charlie. She has been teaching English and Creative Writing at Amity High School for seventeen years. She has been telling stories for Speak Up for five years and is thrilled to be in person once again. She has also told stories for The Moth, Tell Me Another Story, The Mouth-Off, Songs and Stories, Coyote Tales, and most recently for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven. You can also find her on the Speak Up storytelling podcast. She is currently revising her first novel and hopes that someone will actually want to publish it one day.

A life enthusiast, Cynthia Rojas tells personal stories that take an audience on a journey filled with laughter, wonder, and reflection. Cynthia’s embrace of personal storytelling is rooted in the idea that we all experience extraordinary moments worthy of sharing with others.
She has performed throughout Connecticut at The Mouth-off, New Haven Storytellers, Story City Troupe, Tellabration, and the International Arts & Ideas Festival. She has also performed at The Story Space and MassMouth (both in Boston) and most recently at the National Storytelling Network. She has also been featured on Stories from the Stage, the only nationally syndicated storytelling televised show in the US.

Esam Boraey, a human rights activist working for freedom and democracy in the Middle East. This passion led him to play a key role in the Egyptian revolution of 2011, which helped overthrow dictator Hosni Mubarak. Esam left the country after being sentenced to prison in Egypt’s criminal court for his work for human rights and democratization in the Middle East.


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