Nestor Gomez has faced a variety of mighty challenges in his life—including having to deal with a stuttering problem. He used to be afraid to speak up in public. So, when people hear he has won 66 Moth SLAMS (a storytelling contest that requires quick thinking and fast talking), they are understandably surprised! Gomez says the SLAMS force him to come up with stories under pressure.
Gomez was born in Guatemala and lived in the United States undocumented for years before becoming a citizen, so his life has provided plenty of material to draw upon.
He told his first story at a Chicago Moth SLAM and won. SLAM stories must be based on personal, real-life experiences, are required to fit an assigned theme, and must be developed in a short time before being performed in front of an audience. Through his storytelling, Nestor has learned to draw on personal experiences and speak without the stutter he’s lived with since childhood.
Gomez is also the creator, producer, curator, and host of 80 Minutes Around the World, an immigration storytelling show that features the stories of immigrants and refugees, along with those of their descendants and allies.
In 2018 and 2019, Nestor was nominated by ALTA—The Alliance of Latinx Theater Artists of Chicago, for Outstanding Solo Performance and Storyteller of the Year.
He’s written a collection of heartwarming and hilarious stories about driving for rideshare companies in Chicago entitled, Your Driver Has Arrived. One dollar from every book sold is donated to RAICES—The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or the Ascend Educational Fund, which enables students of exceptional promise to reach their full potential through higher education.
This is Nestor’s first visit to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and to Utah. Join us in welcoming him September 8-10, 2022, at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.
Megan Wells has been telling stories for 40 years, since she was seven, and is described by her daughters as a storytelling jukebox. “Put a quarter in and pick your favorite!”
“I find joy in storytelling. I was in theater. I was a reader,” Wells said. “Then I saw a play and realized books could come alive.” She describes story like crayons. “It absolutely is magic. We create our best world in stories. Storytelling gives us courage. You’re less alone when you hear a story that resonates. A story can buffer and protect and comfort.”
Wells didn’t have storytellers in her life. Her father was a joke-teller, but it took a while for her family to come around to storytelling. Today, “Storytelling is my joy, launching listeners into galaxies of imagination,” she said. “In the outer space of the inner mind, human beings become wise. What I love is the introduction to the audience and to the story. I try to really get to know an audience. I reach into my big Mary Poppins bag of stories and pull something out they can relate to. It’s like meeting old friends for the first time every time I come to a festival.”
Wells began her career as an actress and director in Chicago. She also worked as a communications consultant to Fortune 500 companies. A lover of words, Wells helped executives craft presentations with great care using the structure, rhetoric, and dynamic of words.
After a workshop, a client said, “You should tell stories,” and suggested a trip to the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. There, Wells discovered the art of storytelling. After sharing a personal story at the open mic, she was approached by emcee, Rafe Martin, who asked, “Are you a storyteller?” Wells replied, “I don’t even know what that is!” Rafe replied, “You are.”
At the end of the weekend, Wells asked, “What do I do to become a storyteller?” Rafe advised, “Find stories you love and tell them.” Wells has been following his sage advice ever since.