Louisville is a Moth city. We’ve hosted the monthly live storytelling event since September 2011, and we “got” a Moth before much bigger cities like Los Angeles and Seattle. Now a Moth Grand Slam champion is taking it to the kids.
The Moth began in New York City as a live event in 1997. This isn’t folksy storytelling. It’s a competition featuring true stories, often gritty and/or soul-bearing, told live with no notes on stage. In 2009, it was picked up by public radio as “The Moth Radio Hour” and currently airs on WFPL at 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
This winter at a Louisville Writing Project event, Randi Skaggs, a former school teacher and LWP alum who has won the local Moth a number of times, presented a 60-minute mini-session about how a Moth-style event could help fulfill common-core standards in high schools and encourage reluctant writers.
And now, as a result of the mini-session, Fern Creek High School has hired Skaggs, and she’s conducting a 10-session after-school program for 10 kids, freshmen through seniors. The students have been studying successful Moth stories and working in small groups to create their own.
Skaggs said one of the benefits of the program is that the kids are learning to give not just constructive feedback, but “focused feedback” on each others’ writing and storytelling techniques. She said the stories range from “lighthearted to really heavy.” (Skaggs’ storytelling chops are so good, by the way, that the national Moth organization is flying her to New York City in a month to present at the annual “Moth Ball,” a storytelling event whose keynote storyteller is comedic Renaissance man Louis C.K.)
The kids will compete in a Moth-inspired storytelling competition that is free and open to the public on Thursday, May 7, at 7 p.m. at Fern Creek High School. The students will compete in front of “celebrity” judges — Moth champions, staff and volunteers. There will be 10 five-minute stories, and the host will be Fern Creek teacher Elizabeth Canale, who has helped Skaggs run the program.
One of the most exciting parts of the competition is that the winner will take home $400 and the runner-up $100, money raised by the school’s alumni association.
The theme of the stories for the event is “Resilience,” so if you’re wondering what’s going on in the minds of kids these days, this event is sure to provide amazing insight. Support the student storytellers by attending. The monthly Moth (21 and up) is held the last Tuesday of the month at Headliners.