Think of a moment — big or small — that really shaped who you are.

Set the scene. What did you see, smell, feel? Lay out the stakes. What did you stand to gain or lose?

This is how you tell a good story. And next month, a group of storytellers will take the stage at Omaha’s Rose Theater to share a series of personal anecdotes, some funny, some tragic, but all deeply human.

The Moth, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to the art of storytelling, will host its first-ever live event in Omaha next month. The Moth Mainstage will begin at 7:30 p.m. March 7 at the Rose, 2001 Farnam St. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $35 and are available online at

The Moth enlists storytellers from across the country to deliver true and unscripted (no notes) tales before a live audience. In a given season, the program visits more than 40 cities across the U.S. Events are recorded, edited and broadcast on public radio as “The Moth Radio Hour” and as a weekly podcast.

Omaha’s event will feature veteran Moth performers alongside at least two local voices, said Meg Bowles, senior director and co-host of “The Moth Radio Hour.” Those interested in sharing a story can pitch it at or by calling 1-877-799-MOTH.

“What it comes down to more than anything is being yourself and being authentic and sharing your experience,” Bowles said. “It’s not a performance. When you perform, it’s more like theater. The audience becomes critical. When you share a story, you make yourself vulnerable, and you are who you are.”

And the audience tends to sympathize. The night, Bowles said, is meant to feel like a dinner party, albeit with a much larger audience.

The idea for the program came from poet and novelist George Dawes Green, who spent many summer evenings on a back porch in Georgia sharing stories with a group of friends. A screen on the porch let in moths attracted by the light, so the group started calling themselves The Moths. After moving to New York City, Green hoped to recreate the feel of those nights and founded The Moth in 1997.

Since then, the program has featured more than 34,000 stories at events on six continents. The Moth Radio Hour is broadcast on more than 480 radio stations, and the podcast has more than 52 million downloads annually.

The stories can be big or small, hilarious or heartbreaking, Bowles said. The program has featured the tale of a man who was working at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan when an earthquake struck in 2011. It has recorded the dating misadventure of a woman who found out a new boyfriend was sharing custody of a dog with an ex. And it has heard from a Hasidic Jewish man who talked about eating a slice of pizza — the first time he ever broke kosher laws.

The Moth works with its storytellers to craft each story into a clear, engaging narrative, Bowles said. That means spinning vivid scenes — “little movies” — that help the listener picture the action. It also means creating tension.

“The story has to have some stakes. It has to have a reason for a listener to invest,” she said. “You can create moments and scenes and punctuate them with emotion.”

It’s that emotion, Bowles said, that makes a story resonate with an audience.

“It’s the thing that is intrinsically human and universal,” she said. “We may not know what it feels like to be traveling in space ... but we know what it’s like to have our hair stand on end. Or our stomach drop. Or our heart skip a beat.”