For many of us, there are few things more exciting than listening to a good story. Families, friends and strangers have long played on the emotions and reactions of each other to deliver a timely story. And now The Moth, a nonprofit storytelling organization, has brought some of those spellbinding stories to a popular venue in Brooklyn.
The Moth hosts an open-mike StorySLAM at the Southpaw on the first Monday of each month. Storytellers from all walks of life, including lawyers, teachers, students, writers, poets, and law enforcement try to win over a live boozy audience with candid accounts of memorable experiences. Their stories can be both warm and spontaneous, and sometimes offer surprising and valuable introspection. But while stories can range from childhood narratives, to comical misunderstandings, and life-altering experiences, storytellers are limited to a specific topic.
The setup for each slam is simple: a topic like “Schools” or “First times” is announced before each event. Aspiring contestants submit their names into a tote bag, from where the MC/Host will pick ten random storytellers. There is a five-minute limit per story, and contestants are reminded to be “on topic, on time, and on truth.” All storytellers are judged at the end of their story by three groups of judges that are selected from the audience.
The poet and novelist George Dawes Green first organized The Moth storytelling slams in 1997. But what began as an informal gathering between storytellers and listeners has boomed into a multi-venue circuit that is projected across different cities from New York to Los Angeles. As a result, The Moth storytelling slams have become a launchpad for many aspiring and professional writers, actors and comedians who want to test out their new material. But in spite of this development, these storytelling slams are designed to go beyond a mere theatrical performance, so says their website. They are “a community experience where enlightenment, entertainment and festivity merge.”
How to get there: Take the 4 or 5 to Atlantic Ave. – Pacific Street. Use the HopStop link below for specific directions. Tickets for “The Moth presents: StorySLAMs” at the Southpaw are $7. Doors open at 7:30pm. Attendees are encouraged to get there early since some Moth storytelling slams have sold out. For a complete listing of venues in New York, and audio clips of notable storytellers visit: themoth.org. (Southpaw, 125 Fifth Ave, Brooklyn, 718.230.0236, spsounds.com)
Photo: Courtesy of Matt Bresler