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You and your story

Larry Rosen brings The Moth Mainstage storytelling event to Tulsa

The Moth Radio Hour features stories from live shows around the world, offering brief glimpses into the lives and background of the storytellers. The series debuted in 2009 and airs on more than 400 stations.

The Moth Mainstage is a multimedia experience with live music, audience interaction, and live storytelling. The Moth Education Program works with young people and educators around the nation to build community through storytelling workshops, performances, and innovative resources.

Larry Rosen—a master storytelling instructor with the Moth Education Program and the Community Program Manager for the Moth Radio Hour—has been teaching, directing, and practicing theater and comedy performance for more than 25 years. He has received numerous awards for his performances and has more than a decade of experience working with The Moth.

On Nov. 15, The Moth Mainstage comes to Cain’s Ballroom in partnership with KOSU Public Radio for a night of storytelling featuring five performers who will fine-tune their unforgettable stories with the Moth’s directors before sharing them with the public.

Damion Shade: How did you get connected to the Moth Radio Hour?

Larry Rosen: I began my work with the Moth as an instructor. The Moth has several different instruction programs. We teach these story workshops in various communities. I began that almost 10 years ago. Since that time, I’ve been coaching storytellers on many different levels. Teaching workshops and also directing these mainstage shows like the one that we have coming up in Tulsa. What started as a community program had another arm added to it with the global community program. So I teach a lot of workshops now overseas. We’ve been teaching a lot in Africa for the past four years. It’s been incredible to see how universal and powerful the storytelling medium can be everywhere we go.

Shade: It seems like there’s been a real resurgence of live storytelling in recent years. Why do you think that is?

Rosen: In one word, I would say: connections. It serves a need and a want that people have, which when you think about it, is so basic but it’s more and more needed. If you ever attend these events, it’s just people getting up and sharing themselves. They’re sharing these true stories from their lives. We like to say this is taken right from The Moth’s mission. Stories honor the diversity and commonality of human experience.

You’ll hear a story where the particulars of that person’s experience are quite different from anything that you’ve gone through, but the theme—which is what we’re always looking for—the themes are universal. So people connect to the story of an astronaut or a voodoo priestess, whoever’s telling the story, but they may be telling a story that’s also about family, which is a place where we all connect. So I really think it’s that connection, and I think that the crazier the world gets the more important that connection becomes.

Shade: There are some Tulsans performing at The Moth Mainstage event at Cain’s, right?

Rosen: We have two storytellers from the area, and if they’re representative of the people of Tulsa, then I may just move there. They’re such lovely, sensitive, compassionate people—and so interesting.

One is Connie Cronley. Connie’s a writer. She’s the former executive director of Tulsa Ballet Theater, and she’s also the former executive director of the Iron Gate soup kitchen. She’s written books and her public radio commentaries are heard on KWGS, and she also has a column that’s called “Musings” that appears monthly in TulsaPeople magazine.

Our second Tulsan is Anthony Brinkley. His friends call him Tony B, and he’s sometimes referred to as the godfather of Tulsa poetry. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the series “Ok, So Tulsa.” Tony was their first Grand Slam Champion. He’s also been published in the Living Arts Poetry Chapbook and J Pearle Magazine, and he’s a regularly performing poet and storyteller. He’s a board member at Living Arts, and he hosts two popular annual events: Love and Lust Valentine’s Poetry Show and the yearly Living Arts Poetry Slam. Tony and Connie are both fabulous storytellers and amazing people.

Shade: Why is it important that we teach storytelling to our kids?

Rosen: The Moth has a whole education program, which works with high school and college students. To see what it’s done for these kids is living proof of the power of it. People need to be heard. People need to know that their experiences are important and that their experiences are worth knowing about, and also that we want to hear what you have to say. It’s that combination of those two things. Honoring what you’ve been through and then honoring you talking about it. You get both of those things at the same time. It’s a wonderful thing when you write about your experiences. When you read it, that’s beautiful on its level. We get to listen to you face-to-face, and we get to show you in the room how much we value you and your story.

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