Vulnerability & Empathy in Story-Telling: A Night at The Moth

This Tuesday night, I attended The Moth, a platform for artists & writers to share personal stories based around this night’s theme of Distance. With eleven speakers to share a 5-6 minute story relevant to the topic of distance, each came with a different approach to their tone, content, and usage of comedic relief for their stories. Complemented by a highly interactive audience of 200+ people, the speakers and audience became ingrained in the same experience of vicariously reliving the stories.


With a plethora of genres intersecting with one another, all shared the features of being non-fictitious and personally experienced narratives. Although some stories may have been performed on-the-spot whereas other pieces may have been carefully tinkered with prior writing preparation, all pieces shared the story-telling aspect. Just like any form of writing, being able to convey your primary meaning to your audience is the most valuable component to any writing. With story-telling, the composition of the audience is highly variable, so being able to communicate fluidly is crucial. Despite the importance of clear communication at The Moth, several performers often had unclear stories which made me feel lost about what was happening. This was probably one of the worst feelings: when you know the artist has a phenomenal story, but you just don’t understand.

Nonetheless, a lack of clarity was a rarity. Many performers spoke compelling stories, driven with emotions. The comedic stories gave a lighthearted and funny narrative, whereas the more serious stories honoured my presence and allowed me to put a face to social issues. For instance, the judged winning speaker that night discussed the conflicting intersection of child molestation and family, providing me an outlet to empathise with the speaker’s experiences. Not often do we have individuals able to willingly talk about such personal and traumatic experiences in public.

Experiences like The Moth need to be experienced by everyone, and at least several times. Story-telling is an opportunity for us to share personal experiences and thus bring awareness to issues that often go hidden. By creating a vulnerable and open space with an inclusive audience that is excited to listen, speakers also can find a unique opportunity to share with a highly supportive audience. All in all, The Moth is a phenomenal way to spend a night, not only learning but also being entertained.


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