Everyone has a story to tell – and it’s usually a story that can only be told by them. If you’re brave enough to do it, Story Club Pittsburgh wants you to take the stage.
The award-winning podcast and radio show The Moth, titans of the live-action storytelling ecosystem, previously used recordings of the Story Club Pittsburgh shows at the old Rex Theater for some shows. The Moth shut down local production during the pandemic — as did the Rex Theater, which closed permanently in 2020 — but Story Club Pittsburgh has been reborn on the City of Asylum’s North Side.
The next show is scheduled for Tuesday, March 15, on the theme of “culture shock”, in partnership with the World Affairs Council.
Story Club Pittsburgh offers artists the opportunity to deliver eight-minute non-fiction stories based on a particular theme each month. The first chapter, Story Club Chicago, launched in 2009 before expanding to six other cities.
Kelly Flanagan Dee is a producer at Story Club Pittsburgh and former producer of The Moth. With former Moth host Alan Olifson, she began preparations in 2021 for the first post-COVID event; it took place in February, both in person and via livestream.
“Story Club’s goal is to combine the spontaneity of an open mic with live theater through real storytelling,” Dee said. “And it may sound like stories told from the heart [and] stored or can be read. They just need to be real and about you and your story to tell.
Free entry; hopeful performers can book slots and register to take the stage up to thirty minutes before the show starts. In addition to the open mic portion of the show, the evening also features artists selected by the producers.
Since working for The Moth for ten years, Dee has heard a wide range of stories, often on the same night. Other than the basic theme and the time constraint, people are free to take whatever tone they want.
“There are stories that are funny, there are stories that are heartfelt, that are thoughtful, that are confessional — and, you know, an audience overcomes the ups and downs of those emotions throughout a night. “
The Story Club also gives people from different walks of life the opportunity to get to know each other, creating an ever-growing community of storytellers.
“You connect with other people in a way that you might not expect, right? So a student might find themselves connecting with someone who has been a steelworker.
“You might not have met this person on the street and realized you had something in common,” Dee says.
She adds that Story Club is dedicated to building a space that is open to everyone.
“Our hope is to continue to build on the storytelling community that has grown in Pittsburgh,” Dee said. “We want it to become something that people find accessible, welcoming and inclusive. And we’re excited to do that through what we do and continue to listen to the community as we grow it around Pittsburgh.