Edgar Oliver is one of our favorites. Did you know that he has a new show coming up, based on the first story he told at The Moth? Tickets and info here.
Telling a story tonight? The rules and guidelines at The Moth StorySLAM.
What we don’t want:
Stand-up routines. Rants. Essays. How-tos. Confessions. Lectures. Fictions. Gratuitous anything.
What we do want:
Hook us in. Make us care about you. Paint the scene. Clearly state your fears, desires, the dilemma. Make us invested in the outcome. Introduce the conflict. Make us worried for you. Impress us with observations that are uniquely yours. Rope us into the moment when it all goes down. Conclude as a different person: triumphant? Defeated? Befuddled? Enlightened? …CHANGED.
Kind of applies to all sorts of storytelling, right?
Moth stories are told, not read. We love how the storyteller connects with the audience when there is no PAGE between them! Please know your story “by heart” but not by rote memorization. No notes, paper or cheat sheets allowed on stage.
Have some stakes.
Stakes are essential in live storytelling. What do you stand to gain or lose? Why is what happens in the story important to you? If you can’t answer this, then think of a different story. A story without stakes is an essay and is best experienced on the page, not the stage.
Start in the action.
Have a great first line that sets up the stakes or grabs attention.
No: “So I was thinking about climbing this mountain. But then I watched a little TV and made a snack and took a nap and my mom called and vented about her psoriasis then I did a little laundry (a whites load) (I lost another sock, darn it!) and then I thought about it again and decided I’d climb the mountain the next morning.”
Yes: “The mountain loomed before me. I had my hunting knife, some trail mix and snow boots. I had to make it to the little cabin and start a fire before sundown or freeze to death for sure.”
Steer clear of meandering endings
They kill a story! Your last line should be clear in your head before you start. Yes, bring the audience along with you as you contemplate what transpires in your story, but remember, you are driving the story, and must know the final destination. Keep your hands on the wheel!
Know your story well enough so you can have fun!
Watching you panic to think of the next memorized line is harrowing for the audience. Make an outline, memorize your bullet points and play with the details. Enjoy yourself. Imagine you are at a dinner party, not a deposition.
No standup routines please.
The Moth LOVES funny people but requires that all funny people tell funny STORIES.
Take up this anger issue with your therapist, or skip therapy and shape your anger into a story with some sort of resolution. (Stories = therapy!)
Your eloquent musings are beautiful and look pretty on the page but unless you can make them gripping and set up stakes, they won’t work on stage.
Since we have a couple of SLAMs tonight, we thought it might be good to remind everyone what makes a great Moth story.
(via Grace Bello)
This week’s podcast: An eight-year-old immigrant learns English to win a girl’s heart and a nerdy American teen shifts gears to find a boyfriend.
Wow, the Michigan Theater is fancy! Are you ready for some Mainstage stories, Ann Arbor?
We’ll see you tonight!