Presenters tell heartfelt and true five-minute stories at Moab’s story slam event, The Storied Self. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A few years ago, Moabite Alissa Rubin started the Moab version of the live storytelling event, “The Moth,” renamed “The Storied Self.” When Rubin moved to Salt Lake City, a handful of Moabites, including Celia Alario and Holly Lammert, dedicated themselves to continuing it. But then the pandemic hit, bringing an end to the live, in-person story-sharing events.

Now, they’re returning. The next event is on May 11 at 7 p.m. at the MARC (111 E. 100 N.). The theme is “pivot: stories of course correction and the unexpected directions that our lives move in.” The event is partnered with KZMU, Back of Beyond Books, and Moab Arts.

Each event is structured like this: participants will arrive at 7 p.m. and decide if they want to share a story—a live, five to eight minute story, with no notes and no props. If so, they’ll put their name in a hat. For people who don’t have a full story, but who still have something to share, they can write down a few sentences for the event host to read.

When storytelling starts, the event hosts will pull names out of the hat to determine who will tell a story. There will be an intermission as well, so anyone in the audience who feels inspired can also sign up to potentially tell a story. Audience members interested only in listening are also free to join.

“The thing people should know when they come to this is that it’s meant to be an opportunity to stand up and share a story,” Alario said. “It’s not meant for seasoned storytellers or professional actors. It’s for anybody in town who has a story to tell and feels drawn to the theme.”

The theme of “pivot” can be interpreted in many different ways, Alario said. While the theme brings the stories together, what the event is really about is the art of being vulnerable: of connecting with other people through story, Alario and Lammert said.

“Our hope is that this will be an event that is intergenerational, that crosses a number of different social groups in Moab, that people of all backgrounds and hobbies and religions and passions will come to, to tell their stories,” Alario said. “Stories are in our DNA. They’re an inherently human thing.”

What makes a good story? Lammert, who has shared a story at a live event in Salt Lake City, said it’s all about the details: good stories have rich details and opportunities for feeling. Alario agreed, adding that she enjoys stories that have an arc to them—a beginning, middle, and end—and are relatable, offering opportunities for retellings.

“You’re taking people on a journey,” Alario said. “You’re making them feel things, and giving them the gift of some window into yourself. When I’m listening, I love to laugh—I’m also okay to cry or feel touched or take a pause to reflect, or think about something in a new way.”

Alario and Lammert emphasized that the event is for everyone: the event isn’t a talent show or a stand-up comedy event. It’s just an opportunity for anyone to share a story from their own life—and an opportunity for audience members to practice listening.

“This is an opportunity to be your authentic self,” Alario said.

The organizers, who also include Christy Williams, Ginger Allen, and Shari Zollinger, are looking for more people to volunteer: if you’re interested, Alario said, let organizers know at the event. The next event is on May 11 at 7 p.m.