The Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute and The Moth announced today a monthly Moth StorySLAM in Las Vegas, to debut at The Believer Festival on April 29. The Moth—which produces the award-winning Moth Radio Hour for 500+ public radio stations around the country and a podcast downloaded more than 73 million times a year—selected Las Vegas as a permanent site for its new SLAM series. BMI will serve as community partner for the ongoing program.
The debut SLAM will open this year’s The Believer Festival, said Sara Ortiz, BMI’s festival director. The show will take place on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, at Fremont Country Club (601 E. Fremont Street, Las Vegas NV 89101). Tickets will go on sale next week at believerfestival.org.
Dan Kennedy, longtime podcast host and Moth stage favorite, will host the inaugural StorySLAM. Anyone can put their name in a hat, and ten will be picked to step up to the mic and share their stories on the evening’s theme: TRUE VEGAS. All interested should prepare a five-minute story about life in the valley, from dog runs and art walks to canyons and 115 degree breezes. One of the 10 tellers called to the stage will be crowned the Vegas StorySLAM champion. “Las Vegas is a city full of incredible locals with amazing true personal stories,” says Catherine Burns, Artistic Director, The Moth. “We feel so lucky to be presenting our inaugural Vegas StorySLAM as part of The Believer Festival, and we’re excited to share the stories told there with the world.” “Las Vegas is a storyteller’s dream,” said Joshua Wolf Shenk, BMI’s artistic and executive director, who is a founding advisor to The Moth. “And we’re thrilled to help introduce our friends at The Moth to one of the most vital, authentic, and surprising places on earth.” The Believer Festival was created by the Black Mountain Institute and debuted in 2017, the same year the BMI acquired The Believer magazine from McSweeney’s, a move that the magazine’s co-founder Vendela Vida described as a “migration of The Believer to its spiritual home.” The festival is as an experiment in community as much as in the arts. It has featured exchanges with stand-up comedians; conversations between graphic novelists and songwriters; readings by poets against the backdrop of Red Rock Canyon; an original piece created by Natalie Diaz and Valeria Luiselli in Las Vegas’s historical federal courthouse at The Mob Museum; and readings and performances inside the storage warehouse of The Neon Museum.
The past three iterations have included poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib, actor-comedian Carrie Brownstein, McArthur Fellow Natalie Diaz, novelist Mohsin Hamid, entertainer John Hodgman, director Barry Jenkins, National Book Award Finalist Tayari Jones, filmmaker & artist Miranda July, McArthur Fellow Valeria Luiselli, comedian Aparna Nancherla, novelist Tommy Orange, renowned vocal artist Reggie Watts, and many others. This year’s festival features the chef Roy Choi; a live taping of On Being with Krista Tippett; the writers Kaveh Akbar, Kristen Arnett, and Jonathan Lethem; an original dance piece in Red Rock Canyon made for the festival by renowned choreographer Annie-B Parson; and the “Survival Guide Playlist,” hosted by Jean Grae.