The Moth GrandSLAM
starts at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Jan. 29 and will be held at the Joy Theater (1200 Canal St.), a venue that local producer Laine Kaplan-Levenson says exemplifies one important thing The Moth intends to do each month: make ordinary people into performers for a night.
"The Moth always does this situation where it's just ordinary people that are getting up and telling stories and kind of taking the stage and becoming a performer for a night," she says. "And I feel like what's so special about the grandSLAM is that, although Cafe Istanbul is a great venue for us on a month to month basis, it will be those same ordinary people standing on the stage of the Joy Theater in front of, you know, a venue of 300 seats. And they're not famous."
Dozens of stories are told over the course of the year at Cafe Istanbul
thanks to The Moth StorySLAM; the monthly, live storytelling competition hosted by WWNO
. But on Thursday, The Moth presents the best of the best, with the 10 winners from events held over the past year coming together to duke it out for the title of champion.
The rules are the same as they are at other Moth events: five minutes per story, timed and judged by selected members of the audience. But an air of storytelling royalty will float over the inaugural GrandSLAM
Every Moth has a theme, and Thursday's theme is Fish Out of Water. Kaplan-Levenson says that most of the time, a storyteller can sign up to tell a story based on whatever the theme is, but for this go-around, winners are already signed up, and will have to curate a true story to fit the theme, an added challenge even for the most proficient tellers of tales.
The Moth is a national nonprofit that facilitates a host of different kinds of storytelling events and airs selected stories on its podcast and on The Most Radio Hour. The StorySLAM takes place in satellite cities around the country, and selected winning stories from those various cities are aired on The Moth's podcast and radio show. According to Kaplan Levenson, no New Orleans storytellers have made it on the air...yet.
Competing for the title Thursday are, in no particular order: Bryan Davis, Aubrey Edwards, Autumn Fawn, Alida Glass, Maggie Hadleigh-West, Stevie Long, Colleen McLellan, John Menzer, Meghan Shapiro and Chris Turgeon. David Crabb, a writer, storyteller and two-time storySLAM winner based in New York City, will host. Tickets are $20 and are available here