Julie Ganey

Julie Ganey is a Chicago actor, writer, and teacher. As a performer, she has worked with the Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens, Northlight, Chicago Dramatists, Shattered Globe and Drury Lane, among others. Her solo shows The Half-Life of Magic and Love Thy Neighbor…till it hurts have been produced by Fillet of Solo at Lifeline Theatre, Next Theatre in Evanston, and 16th Street Theatre in Berwyn. Through Wavelength, an award winning comedy ensemble that performs for educators, Julie has created and led workshops for teachers and executives all over the country on communication skills and improvisation. In addition, Julie is the Education Director at Lifeline Theatre, and has designed lots of programs for kids, on everything from violence prevention to etiquette. Her bullying prevention program, Stand Up On The Schoolyard, has been presented to students and educators within the Chicago Public School system and across the country.


How did you become involved with 2nd Story?

Seven or so years ago, I started attending 2nd Story events – first to see acquaintances or a friend perform, and then just because I enjoyed the experience so much. A storyteller friend of mine started urging me to write a story and submit it, and I kept saying, “I don’t know why you’re saying that. I’ve never written anything. I’m not a writer!” I had worked as an actress in Chicago theatre for a long time, and for as long as I could remember, the short story had been my favorite literary form, but I couldn’t picture myself actually producing something. My friend wore me down, though, the wonderful Ric Walker, and I wrote and performed my first story. In that moment, I had the feeling that everything I knew about performance, theatricality, story, and creating a truly meaningful connection with an audience fused together, and it has been my favorite form of self-expression and art-making ever since.

Who is the greatest storyteller you know and why?

My father is my favorite storyteller. In general, he’s not incredibly chatty, but when he gets going on a story, everyone gets caught up in it. His face gets red, he cracks himself up and can’t get his breath – he enjoys himself as a storyteller immensely.

Why do you think stories are so important?
Stories help us organize the events of our lives in a way that makes sense, allowing us to feel like we have some control over what our story could be going forward.

What is your favorite 2nd Story story? Why do you love it so much?
My favorite 2nd Story piece is Ric Walker’s “Ripples in Glass.” The story is entertaining, moving and insightful, and demonstrates beautifully the idea that big, universal ideas can be explored through the telling of everyday events.

Do you have a favorite 2nd Story moment?
I was blown away by our September 11, 2011 show at Webster’s. We were attempting to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11, and we ended up with an evening that explored such a myriad of perspectives, and raised questions in a thoughtful and sometimes entertaining way, that I was grateful to just be in the room.


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