From Hillary Rea, founder of Tell Me A Story:

When it came to the stories and storytellers that shared their experiences on the TMAS stage, this year was quite exceptional. It was very hard for me to choose just ten stories to highlight, but the list below (in alphabetical order) are the ones that have stuck with me since I heard them live. Here’s to 2019 and all of the stories to come!


"I tell a lot of love stories. And this is kind of a love story. A weird one, an awkward one."

Jos is a masterful storyteller. In this story she takes us from laughing to crying in an instant, and makes us fall in love with a tiny kitten named Tyrone.


“My parents grew up in the Soviet Union and everything from American culture was banned.”

Ari brought a whole new perspective to our countries fascination with musical theater and all-you-can-eat buffets. This story is a laugh a second.


“And the bright lights of Hot Tony’s bathroom vanity would go murky in the mist that gathered and eventually the water would go off and there would be this moment of stillness."

It’s evident from the above quote that Donald has a way with words. This story is filled with suspense, as we wait in fear of a young Donald getting caught looking out his window at a fantasy to come to life!


“I traded Middle Earth for a cubicle and the ability to stare at a PowerPoint presentation for 12 hours a day.”

Rob’s story from our January 2018 was the perfect example of an Origin Story. Watch Rob find adventure in his backyard, acclimate to a boring reality, and reconnect to joy and the unknown as he goes on a quest to meet 10,000 strangers.


“She doesn’t get out of the car this time,  she bursts ... and she’s running at me.”

It’s not every day (or every Halloween night) that you get punched in the face.


“And I look at the window and I think can I squeeze out the window and go down the fire escape to the Greyhound parking lot and never return.”

Sarah Pulver brought us back to a very humiliating moment in her life, but along the way she taught us a trick for the utmost bathroom etiquette.


“Eventually I had to start talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about it because it felt like I was burdening people with my extremely sad story.”

Ijanae’s story is my favorite of the whole year. I am so grateful that she shared this story from a place of strength, humor and resilience. I think it’s one we can all learn from, and one that will help anyone who is suffering from an unexpected loss.


Keith is a cowboy by heart. He told me once that he wished he lived in the West but he was born in Central PA so they have to bring the West to their farm.”

Heather Thomason shared her story at our special South Philly Food Co-Op event just days before opening her butcher shop, Primal Supply Meats, on Passyunk Avenue in South Philly. This story takes place on an Amish Farm, and inside of a tiny structure with an interior Heather will never forget.


“My fear is being used against me, a lesson I internalized.”

This story is from our final show of the year. I think I’ve watching it about 10 times in the last month. Christine is so incredibly talented and she has a way of taking on multiple characters within a story - like her dad, her younger sister, and her inner monologue as a 10 year-old.


“I ran with this narrative that my dad was going to murder me. Very clear, there was no abuse…”

Adam’s story is the only one that made both my list and Mary Rayer’s. Since two of us (and there are only two of us) recommend it, you might as well start with this one!


Want to watch all 10 stories as a playlist? Visit Hillary’s Top Ten Album on our Vimeo channel.