Byham Theater

August 27
7:30 p.m.

If you’re listening, you’ll hear stories being being told all around you—at bus stops, in classrooms and cubicles, during bedtime and happy hour. Storytelling seems to be embedded within our very DNA.

There’s no better place to experience the the thrill of a great story than  The Moth Mainstage. The art and craft of storytelling takes center stage on August 27th, when the New York City-based sensation, The Moth, returns for its sixth annual appearance presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures.

Consistently a sell-out, The Moth Mainstage will have you on the edge of your seat, wriggling in your seat, cringing in your seat, and more. Returning to its new home in Downtown’s Byham Theater, event tellers will creatively weave tales based on the evocative theme of Don’t Look Back: The Moth Pittsburgh. The iconic storytelling event—which knows that stories are best shared in person—brings together a playful mix of local and traveling storytellers, along with a musician (serving as the event’s timekeeper), and of course, one very charismatic host.

Who’s stepping up to own the mic?

This year’s featured local storyteller is the celebrated artist, writer, performer and educator, Vanessa German. Captivating Pittsburgh audiences and empowering local neighborhoods—from her high-profile spoken word performance at Mayor Bill Peduto’s inauguration, to her Homewood-based Love Front Porch project which uses creativity, community and art to combat violence—German is credited with pioneering a hybrid performance style known as spoken word opera. Her dynamic and moving works have been featured at The Vineyard Playhouse, Three Rivers Arts Festival, August Wilson Center for African American Culture, Andy Warhol Museum and additional national and international venues. She is also founder of Homewood’s Art House and the “STOP SHOOTING, WE LOVE YOU” yard sign project.

Also representing local talent at The Moth Mainstage will be Pittsburgh-based musician Gordon Kirkwood, founder and principal engineer at Whimsy Engineering, which is based at the Techshop in Bakery Square. After a brief stint as a nuclear reactor operator, Gordon developed brain-controlled robotic arm prostheses, followed by a training program for tele-kinetic lab monkeys.

The Moth Mainstage also brings home two Pittsburgh natives. Allderdice High School graduate Cole Kazdin returns from Los Angeles, where she works as an Emmy-winning television news producer. Kate Tellers, who grew up on the North Side, currently lives in Brooklyn and is a performer with the Upright Citizens Brigade, a writer for the Gorgeous Women of Comedy and a storytelling educator whose students range from eight-year-olds to CEOs.

Also featured will be Detroit-based comedian Horace H.B. Sanders, known for his appearances on BET, CBS, ABC and Comedy Central. Rounding out the cast is Bronx-based novelist and screenwriter Richard Price, who is the author of eight novels, including The Wanderers (1974), Blood-Brothers (1976) and Clockers (1992). Author of the Oscar-nominated screenplay for The Color of Money, Price has also written multiple episodes for the acclaimed television show The Wire.

Your host for the engaging evening will be New York City-based humorist and writer Dan Kennedy, a contributor to McSweeney’s and GQ magazine. Author of three books, including the 2013 novel American Spirit, Kennedy is beloved by worldwide Moth devotees as host of the program’s wildly popular weekly podcast, which is downloaded some 25 million times a year.

Called “New York’s hottest and hippest literary ticket” by the Wall Street Journal, The Moth has presented some 10,000 stories by people of all walks of life via stage shows, weekly podcasts and a Peabody Award-winning radio special, The Moth Radio Hour, which can be heard locally on 90.5 WESA.

Copies of Kennedy’s and Price’s books will be available for sale at the event via Mystery Lovers Bookshop. Also for sale will be The Moth’s own collection of stories.

Can’t resist a good story? Grab your tickets today, because the event sells out every year.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...