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Storytelling Performances: The Moth GrandSLAM

A photograph of a man standing in front of a microphone on a stage in a dark church under glowing stage spotlights
By Union Chapel

The Moth Logo

On a warm summer evening in June, we walked along a garden to the breath-taking Union Chapel for London's first ever The Moth GrandSLAM event by The Moth. After being served an outstanding dinner at the Chapel's Margin's Cafe (at which profits go directly to The Margins Project to further their mission of supporting people facing homelessness and crisis), we sat in our pew in the dimly lit church and listened to 10 incredible storytellers, standing alone on a stage illuminated by a towering rose window, share stunningly heart-wrenching tales on the theme of Fish Out of Water.

The storytellers told "tales of being out of their element: the freak, the foreigner, dressed for the opera at the clambake, out of the loop, the only person in the loop, the voice of dissent, the lonely fool. Outsider, interloper, odd man out. The black sheep, the chatty monk, the juror with a doubt" (1). Against the backdrop of the Chapel, the stories felt vulnerably holy and it was sheer magic. We were moved and the event was, unequivocally, one of the most memorable we've ever attended. The year prior, someone gave us the tickets for the GrandSLAM as a gift. We want to share that gift giving perfection by featuring tickets to The Moth as our gift guide entry for today.

a photograph of union chapel, a stage at the front and pews filled with people
By Union Chapel

We ardently cherish experiential gifts. Any opportunity to learn and explore is priceless in our book. Any opportunity to learn and explore is priceless in our book and, with this in mind, we can confidently say that tickets to The Moth's StorySLAMs and GrandSLAMs are the ideal gift. Who doesn't love being told stories? If you enjoy NPR's StoryCorps then you will certainly love The Moth storytelling. The Moth hosts three types of live events: StorySlam, GrandSLAM, and Mainstage. Mainstage events are curated and feature tellers who have worked with The Moth directors to organize their tales (2). In contrast, StorySLAMs are "community-focused, open-mic storytelling competitions in which anyone can share a five-minute story on the night’s theme"(2).

When the doors open, storyteller hopefuls put their names in The Moth “hat." A half hour later, names are picked, and one by one, storytellers take the stage. The ten featured stories are scored by teams of judges selected from the audience. Each StorySLAM generates a StorySLAM winner. After ten SLAMs, the winners face off in a GrandSLAM Championship. (3)

We do recommend prioritizing GrandSLAM events as the storytellers have already made it past an initial StorySLAM round and, as a result, you're more likely to see strong performances. Although the SLAM events are described as competitions, in reality they feel like independent monologues performances. There may be a winner but there certainly aren't losers!

Unfortunately, in order to stay safe and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, venues around the world have temporarily suspended their events. But there is still a way to gift The Moth experience! While we wait for venues to open and host live in-person SLAMs, you can purchase tickets to regularly hosted live virtual SLAMs or buy one of three books by The Moth which are compilations stories from incredibly talented storytellers. The most recent book, 'Occasional Magic: True Stories About Defying The Impossible', is a well-deserved New York Times Bestseller and an outstanding holiday gift.

The Moth GrandSLAM was tremendously enjoyable; we laughed, we cried, and we left feeling overcome with gratitude. We cannot emphasize enough how wonderful a gift the tickets were and we hope you consider sharing a SLAM experience with loved ones. And, if you are in London, you must find any excuse to see an event at Union Chapel!


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