'The Moth' Comes To Las Vegas


Flash Rosenberg

The Mainstage

Storytelling is essential to the human experience.

We all tell stories every day. We just don’t usually do it on stage in front of hundreds of people.

But that’s what The Moth is all about: telling powerful personal stories.

You’re probably familiar with the Moth Radio Hour, which KNPR airs on this station Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Now, a live event is coming to UNLV on Nov. 14. It will feature Teller, the usually silent half of Penn & Teller; Chenjerai Kumanyika, host of the "Uncivil" podcast; Vikram Krishnasamy, who works for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta; Las Vegas writer Erica Vital-Lazare; and Los Angeles writer Ruby Cooper.

"It’s all about telling true stories, live, without notes,” host Dan Kennedy told KNPR's State of Nevada. “I love to say that The Moth is kind of a cross between a good campfire, a good dinner with loved ones, rehab and therapy.”

Kennedy says there is an amazing connection that happens when we share our stories with each other. He believes that connection is needed now more than ever.

“It’s really just an important time to have everyone come together, under one roof, and just have an evening where we realize, ‘We’re all people and we’re all doing the best we can and we’ve all got a story,’” he said.

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Jennifer Hixon is the senior director for The Moth. She said they've always wanted to come to Las Vegas and they're happy to finally have the opportunity. 

“The stories there are wild and varied,” she said of Las Vegas.

As senior director, Hixon helps the storytellers shape their stories. They find storytellers in a myriad of ways, from friends introducing them to people with an interesting story, to Moth StorySLAMs they hold in cities around the country.

At a StorySLAM, The Moth team advertises the event and picks a theme then people show up to tell their story.

“It is such a wild card night, especially in downtown New York," Kennedy said. "Sometimes folks, I feel they put their name in and they’re not even quite sure what they stumbled into.”

From there, they find people who have a story they have to tell for Mainstage events, like the one that will take place in Las Vegas. Hixon and the other directors listen to them and help them whittle down their story to its essence or turning point.

“I try to shuffle people along to try to find what the truth of the story is,” she said.

That turning point might be obvious, like the story Kennedy told of when he went to therapy and found his therapist dead, but more often it is subtle and people need to be guided along. 

While the stories are often raw and told by regular people — not performers — there are times where they get lost in their narrative. Hixon said the audience understands that and actually steps in to help them.

“I think people appreciate that authenticity," Kennedy said, "That the stories aren’t always slick. It’s not a monologue or a performance. It’s really someone telling you a story right from their heart.”

Kennedy said seeing the audience get behind someone overwhelmed to be on stage is "one of the most beautiful things about The Moth."

The Moth is presented by the Black Mountain Institute. Its director, Josh Shenk, has been involved with the Moth since the 1990s.




Dan Kennedy, host, The Moth; Jenifer Hixon, senior director, The Moth

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