Tag Archives: storytelling

Nerves of Steel: Stories of Moxie and Might — The Moth on tour in Pittsburgh, August 26

The Moth is a live storytelling series. Sometimes the stories are true, and sometimes they are factual. Always they are interesting.

Here’s a sample.

The Moth will be in Pittsburgh in August, and I’m so looking forward to it.

American Shorts @WYEP presents The Moth in Pittsburgh

Nerves of Steel: Stories of Moxie and Might

Hosted by

Jessi Klein

Featuring stories by
George Dawes Green (founder of The Moth)
among others

Stories begin at 7pm
at New Hazlett Theater
Allegheny Square E.
Pittsburgh, PA

Tickets: $20, $25, reserved seating


If you can’t attend the event, they also have a podcast.

Stories of Pittsburgh

Pittsburghers: The eyes of the nation are upon us. It’s time to stand up and share what we think of our town and our region.

The Primary Pittsburgh Project is a “5-day blogging experiment to invite the Burghosphere to re-tell the primary story story of Pittsburgh to the rest of the country.”

Here’s the scoop:

The goal is to engage bloggers who write on many different topics to
share these stories around the blogosphere and beyond. This is an
invitation to get all bloggers telling their Pittsburgh story.

Pittsburgh has received a tremendous amount of national press and
blog coverage, both good and bad. With just days left to the
presidential primary, we are working to highlight and tell some of the
stories that we know that make Pittsburgh great.

If you have a blog, write a post and comments on the Primary Pittsburgh Project site to link back to it. If you don’t have a blog, send your story to the site and they’ll post for you.

Time is key. We have just days left until the primary when the major media is taking a fresh look at our city and region. It’s like the tiny window of attention we receive when the Steelers play Monday Night Football at Heinz Field, extended for a few more days. Let’s use it to tell everyone what we think about Pittsburgh.

Let me tell you a story

Promotional photo from Flight, performed at City Theatre in Pittsburgh

Photo from City Theatre’s production of Flight, March 2008. Pictured center: Joshua Elijah Reese and DeWanda Wise. Photo credit: John Schisler.

In Flight, Charlayne Woodard’s play (recently produced, brilliantly, at City Theatre), the characters are all slaves living on a plantation near Savannah, Georgia in 1858. They are forbidden to learn to read or write, and one of their fellow slaves has just been sold because she had learned to read and was teaching her son.

Not knowing how to read or write doesn’t stop them from telling stories though. The play centers on the oral tradition, the passing on of tales from one person to another, from one generation to another. The storytellers mingle in music and dance, and in Flight the listeners act out the parts of the stories, adding their own interpretations and experiences along the way.

The oral traditions aren’t confined to slaves or people of African descent. Last year, performance troupe Mabou Mines brought Finn, a work-in-progress, to the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre. "Interweaving a Celtic legendary figure, Finn McCool, and elements of Middle Eastern folktales, Finn tells the story of a boy’s journey to avenge his father’s death."

Of course, we’re all familiar with some flavor of oral tradition, whether it’s sitting around at the holidays and listening to old family stories, told for the hundredth time, or meeting up with old friends and rehashing tales of the sordid past.

Is this changing with the existence of the Web, with its wikis and blogs and Facebook photos?

If I post a story on my blog, it’s captured in words. That’s nice if I want it to be captured. But what if I want for others to take it and run with it, add their own twists? People do this with memes, like lists of statistics from their iTunes setups; they sometimes respond to a blog post on their own blogs. But memes are small and frothy; blog posts can have substance but rarely does anyone take a post and reimagine or re-present it in a new light. In fact, I think if someone did, they might be slammed for stealing the originator’s idea.

But think of medieval troubadors going from town to town, singing stories along the way, leaving the stories behind to be sung by others with some parts added and others forgotten. I think the Web is a little too good at preserving things, so we can’t experience the beauty and surprise of mutation.

Or maybe it’s there and I’m not seeing it. What’s the modern equivalent of the oral tradition? Is it just what people used before they could write and record and blog, or it is part of the human experience?

UPDATE: On a related note, over at AndrewAlan.com Andy explores social networking on the web and in real life. Good thoughts.