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Story Artist

Shows for Pure Amusement or Social Justice Stories that Entertain as They Enlighten

Live or Online Storytelling Performances for:

  • Business Conferences and Seminars

  • Library and School Assemblies

  • Professional Development Days

  • Social Studies Classes

  • Storytelling, Music and Folk Festivals

  • Clubs and Meetings

  • Faith-based Programs

  • Theaters that want to book a unique event

Sue will perform live Sue will perform live or online at your day, weekend, or weeklong event.
Or, you can rent a single recorded story or an entire 60-90-minute recorded concert to show at your event, during a seminar, or on your website. See our “STORE” for more details and offerings. 


Single Stories

The Oberlin Rescue of 1858
Over 700 people risked imprisonment and a stiff fine to thwart the re-capture of John Price, an African American man who had escaped slavery. We need the stories of when people came together to do the right thing.

Dad’s Story
What do you do when people you love and admire say or do bigoted things? Centered around the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Dad’s Story asks: When are our memories to be trusted? What do we forget in order to protect ourselves? And… how might we accept our imperfections with a little more grace?

Moments of Grace
Sue, a proud child of the 60s, worries about the lack of idealism and social consciousness her post-Watergate sons display — so she takes them to a part of the world where people have devoted their lives to helping others. On this journey to Guatemala, Sue discovers that she is the one in need of faith and hope.

Grandmother’s Story
In Grandmother’s Story, Sue takes a trip to Ireland to find her Grandmother’s childhood home — a place she was forced to leave because of famine, oppression, and some trickery by her older sister. “Sometimes it takes a loss to make you really understand what you had,” Sue reflects in the story. And in this lovely piece, the gifts and contributions of all those who have gone before us are recognized and honored.

City Girls
City Girls deals with the trials and tribulations young people face over “fitting in” — and demonstrates the endlessly creative ways people signal who’s “better than” or “less than”. Taking place at a spiritual retreat in 1965, Sue and her teenage friends share family secrets, discuss a variety of taboos, and begin to find their voices of strength on such diverse topics as religion, income, addictions and race.

Cancer, A Love Story
Sue finds the humor in her dance with cancer and challenges our ideas on what makes a woman a woman.

Good Mom/Bad Mom
Is Sue a good Mom or bad Mom? Ask her 13-year-old son and it would depend on the day. Sue takes her son on a trip to Philadelphia that turns out to be anything but The City of Brotherly Love.

Additional Stories
Sue has scores of personal stories about family and race plus both traditional and original folktales on every theme imaginable. Tell her about your event, your subject matter or the Common Core Standards you want covered and she’ll deliver.

Full Concert Programs (60-90 minutes)


Mothers and Other Wild Women
(*The title is from the original three-person show with amazing storytellers, Beth Horner and Nancy Donoval. With their permission, Sue is using the title for her one-woman show. However, the three-person show is still available!)

A rollicking journey through life’s comedies for men who love women and women who applaud men. Whether Sue is “dishing” about wayward sons or chain-smoking grandmas, you’ll find this one-woman show to be an uplifting celebration of the many roles women play and the friendships that sustain them.

Who Gets to Call This Home?
Sue takes us on a journey from her front porch on the south side of Chicago to the wider world of international refugee crises and big city racial politics. Through humorous, touching and thought-provoking original stories, Sue will lead us to celebrate our less than perfect families, our own uncertain attempts to make a difference and moments from our country’s history of which we can be proud and about which we so rarely hear.

Dividing Lines: The Education of a Chicago White Girl in Ten Rounds
Dividing Lines is about the sometimes quiet, always devastating, fight for housing played out in most every American city. The KKK, teenage exuberance, Martin Luther King, Jr., loving yet “racist” grandparents and the Friday Night Fights all make an appearance in this seventy-minute storytelling/theater presentation. This memorable performance helps make sense of “ghettos,” segregation and other contemporary racial conflicts and shows us how to plot a course for a different set of choices. It makes the drama of the American fight for “home” come alive with humor, compassion, searing metaphors and unique staging.

Pot of Gold: Irish Stories and Songs!
Sue weaves together stories and songs about the pleasures and pitfalls of being raised Irish American. She tells of searching for connection in the “old country” and the unique Irish way of dealing with “enemies.” You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy this evening that celebrates family, sacrifice and joy that all ethnic backgrounds share!

Everyone Has a Story

We don’t always think our lives are that interesting, however, storyteller, Sue O’Halloran, has discovered again and again that everyone has a story to share and a life that matters. Additionally, in her work as a Diversity Consultant, Sue finds that we don’t necessarily know our country’s stories either, especially tales of things going right. Come join us for an upbeat and inspiring morning that may leave you ready to exchange life stories with the people you love.

COLLABORATIVE PERFORMANCES – (Single Stories or Full Programs of 60-90 minutes)

More Alike Than Not performed by storytellers Gerald Fierst, Arif Choudhury and Susan O’Halloran is an original performance piece interweaving personal stories with traditional and sacred material from Jewish, Muslim and Catholic sources. Throughout the 90-minute show, the performers compare perspectives on being “the other” in an America where we live side by side. Through exploring misconceptions and common threads in immigration, assimilation, life passages and religious identity, past and present conflicts transform into hope for the future.

Mothers and Other Wild Women
Sue joins with two other wild women, Beth Horner and Nancy Donoval.  Whether these three fiery women re “dishing” about romance novels, strapless red dresses, super moms or stress management, they celebrate the many roles women play.

Black, White and Brown: Tribes & Bridges
Each teller shares their unique backgrounds – being raised in an all-black neighborhood or an all-white parish or straddling two cultures – while acknowledging common themes of family, loyalty, and humor in the face of adversity. In this performance, you’ll find yourself in Miami, Florida, Flint, Michigan and the Southside of Chicago to meet a mean school crossing guard, a well-intentioned teacher who unconsciously shames her students of color, old women who lower their aching bones onto city sidewalks for non-violent, civil rights demonstrations and even a flan-throwing grandmother.


You Can’t Bully Me!
Single stories or full 45-60 minutes programs on Anti-Bullying and Conflict Resolution 

Tales and Tastes of Columbia and Ireland: A Bilingual Storytime
Through personal stories of bullying and cultural pride plus folktales and songs that celebrate their differences, Jasmin Cardenas and Sue explore their very different backgrounds and the possibilities for friendship when people are so different.

Can We Still Be Friends?
With funny stories, scary stories, challenging stories, and affirming stories Can We Still Be Friends? brings alive two storytellers’ (one Bangladesh American and one Irish American) distinct backgrounds and common humanity to illuminate the experience of being an American in a time of cultural tension and change.



The Power of Story
So many organizations are doing wonderful things. It seems a no-brainer that the public and the press should just get it. But guess what? They don’t. There are too many great organizations competing for attention. Information and statistics are not enough. Groups need to learn how to make their mission and events come alive. Every organization needs this unique marketing tool!

Building A Conference Community
Often by the last day of a conference things start to gel. But why wait till then? Why not warm up the atmosphere before the first speaker or workshop begin? By sharing quick, fun stories, newcomers feel immediately welcomed and old-timers meet and mentor new people. Have your attendees walk away feeling seen, heard and even having some meal buddies if they so desire. Everyone leaves the session with energizing intentions for the conference and excited to get started.

The Art of Edutainment Storytelling

Together, we will explore stories that illustrate pivotal moments of change related to a varied array of social issues and our personal experiences. Sue will demonstrate how she approaches her stories that revolve around themes of race equity. These principles will apply to any cause that calls to you whether you are an active advocate or just beginning to take on stories with deeper themes. From Sue’s examples, you will be able to distinguish between stories that preach in a negative and patronizing way compared to preaching as an artistic form that combines education and entertainment into stories that respect, enlighten, and emotionally move your audience members to take action.

Intention vs. Impact: Building a Cultural Repertoire You Can Be Proud Of
Rather than discussing “The Rules” of what stories to tell when, Sue leads Participants look at the larger context of our racial, ethnic and religious history and, therefore, when telling stories is mostly taking (Cultural Appropriation) and when the telling is mutual and consensual. Understanding the difference between our good intentions and the impact we can have will be the key to building trust and allowing our diverse audiences to feel valued and appreciated. Sue offers guidelines for uncovering our biases and doing the research that honors the sources of stories.

Collecting and Sharing Our Stories
Sue interviews your co-workers and/or students and tells their stories or coaches them to develop and tell their own stories at an organizational event for a unique diversity program that models the appreciation of our differences. Story sharing breaks down stereotypes and builds empathy for people’s unique experiences. Give your colleagues and students an opportunity to see the world from someone else’s perspective.

Clients Include:

I have worked with clients including:

  • The National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, TN

  • Illinois School Districts – over a dozen

  • The Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC

  • The United Nations Peacekeeping Forum, NY

  • Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, PA

  • U.S. Department of Commodities Future – IL, NY, MO, Washington DC

  • Illinois Coalition Against Violence, IL

  • The Bodhi Spiritual Center, IL

  • Hanover College, IN

  • Mount St. Mary’s College, WI

  • Kishwaukee College, IL

  • North Chicago Police Department

  • Maplewood College, MO

  • Highland Community College, IL

  • The Leadership Council on Metropolitan Open Communities, IL

  • The National Storytelling Network Conference

  • The Chicago Muslim-Catholic Conference, IL

  • Evanston Township High School, IL

  • Glenbrook North High School, IL

  • The Peacebuilders High School Initiative, IL

  • Catholics United for Racial Justice, IL

  • The Unitarian National Youth Conference

  • The United States Catholic Mission Association

  • United Nations Peacekeeping Forum, NY

  • Illinois Storytelling Festival, IL

  • Lincoln Trail Library Systems

  • John G. Shedd Aquarium

  • The Art Institute of Chicago, IL

  • The Adult Learning Resource Center, IL

  • Illinois Theater Association, IL

  • Timpanogos Winter Conference, UT

  • The National Storytelling Festival, TN

  • Society of the Divine Word

  • Waukegan Police Department

  • Washington DC Storytelling Theater

  • The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

  • Solvang Story Festival, CA

  • Prairie Center for the Arts, IL

  • Tcha Tee Man Wi Storytelling Festival, OR

  • The Peacebuilders High School Program, IL

  • Archdiocese of Chicago – over 30 high schools

  • Chicago area libraries – over 20 libraries

  • Lambda Legal – NY, Chicago, L.A., Dallas, Atlanta, Washington D.C.

  • Oakton Community College, IL

  • Elgin Community College, IL

  • WTTW-TV, Chicago, IL

  • IL Association of School Boards

  • Eastern Tennessee State University

  • Joliet Community College, IL

  • Georgia Tech University

  • Dominican University

  • University of Georgia

  • University of Wisconsin

  • Blackhawk Technical College

  • Richland Community College

  • Glenview Police Department

  • Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)

  • Skokie Holocaust Museum, IL

  • Stockton, California Library

  • University of Alabama

  • Lincoln Trail Library, IL

  • Kishwaukee College

  • Learn Charter Schools

  • Catholic Theological Union

  • Paul Mitchell Schools

  • Agencies and Organizations Serving Troubled Youth

  • Evanston Community Foundation

  • Exeter, New Hampshire


"I have seen Sue teach, move, and inspire, all while keeping the audience enthralled with her impeccable storytelling ability.  Many times, audience members are moved to tears by her stories, and I have seen them gather around her after her show to share their own stories with her.  Susan has a magical ability to tell some of our society’s most difficult stories of institutional racism yet do so in such a way that raises awareness and encourages people to find their own solutions."

Antonio Sacre

"Sue’s story of the two porches is one of the best stories I have heard about race.  I’d love the whole country to her. What an artist!"

Jay O’Callahan

"Susan O’Halloran is a captivating storyteller whose stories celebrate the struggle for social justice and the human condition.  She is also a fervent champion of storytellers who offer voices not often heard – storytellers of different faith traditions, cultural backgrounds, and walks of life."

Arif Choudhury

"The heart of Sue’s work is that people are capable of respecting and honoring each other, and she has not deviated in that mission. Creating a sense of social justice can often be pejorative and prescribed, but with Sue’s stories the artistic and entertainment value draws the listener in, in order to understand the message with a chuckle, an ‘aha’, and compassion for the human condition."

Jane Stenson

"Sometimes storytelling is criticized for not paying enough attention to the real world and dealing with tough issues. Sue O’Halloran’s work puts the lie to that accusation and she does all this without her work becoming an extended polemic.  Sue is a storyteller, whose stories are real, thoughtful, and very moving."

Syd Lieberman


"Countless storytellers, in the core of their being, hope and pray that our work will bring more justice and peace to our world. If our community is committed to these values, then we must recognize Susan O’Halloran, the artist who has done monumental work in these areas, accomplishing far more than anyone else has even attempted."

Jim May

"Sue’s storytelling is powerful, sensitive and courageous.  Her stories reach hearts and minds to build bridges between disparate groups with love and compassion. She builds bridges to many diverse groups through storytelling."

Nancy Wang

"Sue has consistently led innovative ice breaking storytelling activities for the National Storytelling conferences. She finds a way to weave social justice in her stories that makes us laugh and also to think.  She is also a master of collaboration working with different storytellers expanding on the theme of cultural differences, racism and sexism."

Olga Loya

"As a storyteller, Susan stands out because she tackles very, very difficult topics. Racism and social justice are not always fun to hear about, but they are so very important, now more than ever. Susan has had a lifelong dedication to social justice. Her stories of growing up on the south side of Chicago and her growing awareness of racism are poignant, insightful, and powerful. She is able to bring in humor at just the right times and in just the right way. She never preaches. She challenges her audiences to reach higher and she shows us how to do it. She has the ability to make sense of life’s craziness in a way that opens us to its possibilities."

Anne Shimojima

"What is most notable about Sue’s work is her choice to use storytelling as the primary tool for bringing people together in ways that break down man-made ethnic, gender and class barriers. Her acknowledgement and examination of the social inequities around us serve as a catalyst for considering ways we can manifest peace and justice right where we are. This is quintessential Susan O’Halloran: Begin with story – end with deeper connections."

Charlotte Blake Alston

"Sue’s “community” is far-ranging: from streets and porches around Chicago to Fortune 500 companies, from the Archdiocese of Chicago to the Steppenwolf Theatre, from high school classrooms here and abroad to the stages of major storytelling festivals, and at all manner of conferences from the corporate to non-profit. A storyteller’s “intention” is an elusive quality; we are taken by their words, their craft, the intensity of the emotions they evoke in their listeners.  Sue has mastery of all of these elements of our art, whether in the telling of an historical event, a childhood memory, an original folk tale or reflections on the day’s traumatic headlines."

Dovie Thomason

"Our relationship began as teenagers. Even at fourteen, Sue was a natural orator, captivating teachers and classmates with political speeches that won her elections that translated into leadership opportunities across the city.

"When our paths crossed again as professional grown-ups, (Sue as creative artist and me as principal of a school) I witnessed anew her ability to defuse hostility, to disarm voices of bigotry and to ignite hope.  And I have seen her bedazzle audiences with a repertoire of tales that touch every listener’s humanity.  Her parables and personal stories made us laugh and cry and reflect, and we are all better for having shared them."

Patty Nolan

"Through Sue’s ground-breaking performances, the excellence and impact of her work has been and continues to be absolutely remarkable. After performing an excerpt of her story Dividing Lines: Education of a Chicago White Girl in Ten Rounds at a major media event in Chicago, a young man representing a south-side Chicago high school spontaneously stood up and declared, “That lady should be sent to every school in America!

"It is a rare person who can do this difficult, delicate and potentially explosive work.  It is the same adeptness, sensitivity and facility for utilizing timely and well-crafted stories that Sue so artistically brings to her storytelling work. She first and foremost creates art and so is able to create stories about these issues in a way that welcomes everyone in.  Sue’s is a daunting repertoire — from humorous personal memoirs to which all listeners can relate to serious, challenging subject matter that can only be told as excellently by someone of her mastery."

Beth Horner

"Sue O’Halloran’s dedication to using storytelling to promote diversity is unparalleled.  No one else I know of is doing this kind of important work."

Linda Gorham

"By telling my story, It made me proud to be Asian American, I felt less invisible. This is such important work you are doing."

Hoang Paul, Participant in Sue’s Vietnamese American Storytelling Project

"Sue O’Halloran captured the interest of very young children, as well as adults.  My favorite was the group of junior high boys that kept coming in and out of the program. They started out rude, yet Sue captured their interest!  If more of the world will listen to the ideas expressed in these stories, we would be living in a better world."

Cathy Maassen, Skokie Public Library

"I am humbled by your compassion and strength of heart. Your stories put wind beneath my wings."

Brenda Wong Aoki

"Susan listens for stories that have the potential to have a positive impact and expand the awareness of listeners. Then, she nourishes that seed."

Michael D. McCarty

"Sue O’Halloran makes me think of a luminous crystal encasing a flame. Elegantly crafted and passionately told, her stories constantly remind us of our own humanity, strength, and yearning for justice."


Anonymous Post-Performance Surveys:

  • Profoundly provocative.  The depth was immeasurable – from the heart.

  • I can’t imagine a better way to talk about a hard topic.

  • Has the power to heal and confront truth without being confrontational.

  • Powerful!  Spellbinding!  Much more powerful than a lecture.

  • It was my story.  I could relate. The details were so great; I felt as if I were there.

  • It got me.  The drama of it pulled me in. Imaginative.  It made me care.

  • It made me stop and think and hope that racism will end.

  • I learned about American being two countries at once.  I thought that was great.  I didn’t know about the historical perspectives and systemic reasons for things.  I learned everyone else’s story plus more of my own.

  • I learned the struggles of not just blacks and browns but whites as well.  I learned about Cuban immigration, Chicago’s restrictive covenants and the Civil Rights Movement.  You covered all sides of ignorance.

  • I learned that white people have background, too; everyone has a history.

  • I learned to be more aware of what you say and not judge people

  • I learned to ask my family about their heritage and to cherish the time I have with them.

  • So informative.  Names the issues in society.

  • I never heard anything like this before!

  • So happy to have systemic racism addressed in such an articulate way – you have given me words, ideas and courage.

  • The feeling in the room was electric! I wish everyone could have heard this.

  • When the whole audience danced and sang together at the end, it was an overwhelming feeling of unity.

  • I never thought about what it was like for the other side – the people who are on the ground when the bombs hit.

  • Made me proud to be Asian American. I felt less invisible. This is such important work you’re doing.

  • I spent many evenings during my years in New York at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and at Broadway theaters, but I can hardly think of an evening that was more moving or more exciting than your performance last Saturday.

  • I wanted to write and tell you how inspired and moved I was by your beautiful stories. You have a wonderful gift and we are so fortunate that you have chosen to use it in this way.

  • You did a wonderful job last evening! Your performing was exquisite. What a gift you have for saying the right thing — and in such a sensitive way.  I especially appreciated your comments about our society’s tendency toward “celebrity” and “hero-worship” which often eclipses the simple, daily acts of courage of so many “ordinary” people.  And I had never heard anyone refer to the horrific brutality against African Americans in our country referred to as a “reign of terror” before.  It is so true, that we all must come to terms with our own history, and that we can’t move forward without understanding our past.

  • A mind-blowing experience – I felt my heart open to everyone in the room!

  • Profound! I felt my humanness in a whole new way. I realized I’m not alone on this adventure called life

  • For the first time, I felt as though I belonged.

  • I identified with your stories and, also, I felt heard because of how people listened to you tell the stories we don’t often hear

  • I found out how much I like other human beings – we all make mistakes.

  •  It felt great to laugh about our ignorance. I joined the human race today – I feel like I’ve come home.

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