"When I was a little girl, 
a spirit followed me to Las Vegas. 
Running alongside the moving truck, 
it's legs twisting into wings, 
it howled, 
'Write damn you!'"

I am, first and foremost, have and will always be, a teacher. Born in Ohio, my parents moved to my father’s home country of Iran where Farsi became my mother tongue. A few years later, we moved back to the United States and eventually settled in the suburban ranch town of Temecula. Surrounded by untamed deserts, Christian conservatism, and intense boredom, I dove into creative mediums developing my passion for writing and learning. As English is my second language, my struggles in school fueled me to become a teacher in my most difficult subject: English. My pursuance of my teaching career made me many things: resilient, adventurous, passionate, an educator, an advocate, a philosopher, and, most importantly, a storyteller. Teachers do more than lecture at podiums, they invest in people through lessons, and some of the best lessons are taught through stories. Stories are the harbingers of truth and connect communities. Stories unite people through empathy, understanding, and humor. Stories are life’s lessons and I will never stop telling them, because I am a teacher and that’s my job.

I co-founded the Berlin Diaspora Society and teach workshops for the Women Writing Berlin Lab and GLADT. I won the Sherry Debrowski Prize for Best Feminist Multi-Genre Fiction writer in 2009. Since then, my work has been featured in: the Berlin based magazine The Wild Word: "Dream a Little Dream" (2018), Berlin and Her Places (2018), KCRW's "Holiday Story Telling Special" (2018), The V Series Poetry Anthology by Picture Show Press (2019) and much more. Some of you may already be familiar with my work as I has been making my way through the Berlin literary circuit, and, if you are not, well then, here is my strange little world: www.awerfjil.com.


David Mouriquand


David is a half-French, half-British cultural journalist and film critic. Keen on making most things a catalyst for whimsy and blaming most things on the fact he grew up on the surreal cocktail of The X Files, Monty Python and The Crystal Maze, David is an avid writer, reader, traveller and music fan.

There’s nothing much he won’t do to attend a The National gig and he’s renown for making a mean quiche, so much so he once got in trouble with an editor for discussing at length the intricacies of the perfect quiche recipe with filmmaker David Lynch instead of probing him about his filmography. 

New to the storytelling scene, this is his second time on stage at The Bear. This time, it’s a story about moving countries, fitting in and the kindness of a stranger who became a treasured friend. 

David’s story: "That damn uniform"


Fabienne Lang

Growing up in vibrant Hong Kong to Scottish and Mauritian parents, diversity and internationalism have always been a part of Fabienne's life. Since before she could walk or talk, Fabienne was lucky enough to travel extensively, mostly across luscious Asia but also further afield to Europe, Africa, and to North and South America. Travelling and movement are in her blood. Throughout her travels, you could always find Fabienne with a book, a pen and a notepad, doodling away her thoughts onto paper or enraptured in a fictitious tale.

As of 2018, Fabienne decided to combine her passions for travelling and writing and became a freelance journalist in her most recent abode, Berlin. It delights her to bring the world to her readers. Alongside words and international discoveries, languages are an integral part of Fabienne's life. As a native English and French speaker with fluent Spanish, conversational Mandarin, Swedish and German, she also translates and tutors.

Nothing beats being able to intimately communicate and create a link with people from all around the globe.

This is precisely what she aims to create through her various approaches of storytelling.

Fabienne’s story: "To Be Announced"


Ben McGuire

Ben on stage at The Bear, Ballhaus Berlin; Photo: Felix Limmer.

Ben on stage at The Bear, Ballhaus Berlin; Photo: Felix Limmer.

A passionate believer in the ferocious power of story, Ben McGuire is a lawyer, writer, documentary filmmaker and photographer.  

He is yet to find a better compass than story to help us find true north and to celebrate the joys and quirks of life along the way.    

In The Magic Flute he deposits us in a deserted bus station in the far east of Turkey where reflections on mountains, machine guns, and manhood collide with a thunderous flock of low-flying ducks and a stranger with a magical flute.

Ben’s story: “The Magic Flute”

Ben on stage at The Bear, Maschinenhaus im Kulturbrauerei; Photo: Felix Limmer.

Ben on stage at The Bear, Maschinenhaus im Kulturbrauerei; Photo: Felix Limmer.

Ben on stage at The Bear, Maschinenhaus im Kulturbrauerei; Photo: Martin Bering.

Ben on stage at The Bear, Maschinenhaus im Kulturbrauerei; Photo: Martin Bering.

Ben at The Bear on KCRW Berlin Radio.

Ben at The Bear on KCRW Berlin Radio.

Denise Banks-Grasedyck

Denise on stage at The Bear, Maschinenhaus im Kulturbrauerei; Photo: Felix Limmer.

Denise on stage at The Bear, Maschinenhaus im Kulturbrauerei; Photo: Felix Limmer.

has a BA in Management and Technology, as well as an MBA. She is still wondering why. After two decades in the corporate world, Denise shifted her focus to her passion for helping people develop into their full potential. As an executive coach, trainer and speaker she is committed to being a servant leader.

Intuitive + Analytical + Observative + Critical + (sometimes) Poetic = a storyteller who studies life and delivers impactful messages in short bursts of fleeting clarity. Note: Mathematical is in no way part of the equation, which is why Denise is closer to a modern day natural philosopher than a scientist.

 Denise believes in God, science, and the power of words. She is a lover of justice, equity, people and oat milk latte – not necessarily in that order.

She has a theory …

Denise’s story: "To Be Announced"

DENISE BANKS 4_20181016_TheBear_Kesselhaus_0052.jpg

Raj Kumar

Raj’s story: "To Be Announced"


Renko Pauwels

Renko is a Berlin-based Belgian working in the software industry by day and a communication aficionado by, well, the other part of the day I guess?  
He has been on the stage from TEDx to the circus. He is an award-winning speaker, past president of public speaking club "Mercury Toastmasters" and founder of social speakers, an organization focused on helping leaders in non-profit and charity activate their communities through public speaking - https://www.social-speakers.com.

He sees himself as a speaker, a host and an enabler.

But his stories at The Bear most often show him as a bit of an idiot.  

Renko’s story: " Labels"  


Terence Mickey

is a contributing writer to Slate, creator of the podcasts Memory Motel and Self? Help!, and a filmmaker with his first feature documentary distributed by Gravitas Ventures. He’s performed on the Moth’s Mainstage and worked in the Corporate and Community Programs, teaching both business leaders and underserved populations the art of storytelling.  By using his knowledge of narrative to help orient leaders in their careers, identify and reach their goals, and to achieve buy-in and engagement within their teams, he’s helped develop leadership programs at Fortune 100 companies, including Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, Prudential Financial, Cigna and Mass Mutual. 


Terence’s story: "To Be Announced"

Terence on stage at The Bear, Ballhaus Berlin; Photo: Felix Limmer

Terence on stage at The Bear, Ballhaus Berlin; Photo: Felix Limmer