Like The Moth, the show will feature local storytellers addressing a theme — motherhood — live on stage, but unlike The Moth, Expressing Motherhood is a curated show, with its stories carefully chosen from submissions and rehearsed in advance.
Insider talked to Lindsay Kavet, who started Expressing Motherhood in L.A. 10 years ago, and also caught up with the show’s local producer, Randi Skaggs.
“It was born out of this desire to be creative,” says Kavet. “We were stay-at-home moms, and prior to that we’d been in the entertainment industry.”
Kavet and co-founder Jessica Cribbs produced the first event, and it was so successful, within a year the show had moved to New York. Since then it’s visited cities all over the United States, always featuring local, curated stories.
At first, Kavet produced all the shows from L.A. Hopeful storytellers would submit written versions of their story, and the best stories would be selected. Producing from afar presented plenty of challenges, and Kavet started using locally based co-producers.
Louisville producer Skaggs should be familiar to storytelling fans. She’s been a fixture at the Louisville Moth since it began, performing in the monthly slams and has even won the grand slam.
Skaggs got her start in storytelling in New York City, where she moved after growing up in Hardin County and attending Centre College. She had moved to New York to pursue theater, but soon switched tracks.
“I moved into teaching once I realized the theater wasn’t right for me,” she says. “I became a New York City school teacher.”
Despite the change in careers, Skaggs still had plenty of creative instincts, and she got involved in the growing New York storytelling scene.
“I started hearing about The Moth, and it seemed perfect for me,” she explains. “I had a pretty kooky childhood and pretty kooky life, and I have a lot of stories.”
As she was feeding her creative side with storytelling, Skaggs and her husband welcomed their first child into the world.
“About a year after my daughter was born, I heard about Expressing Motherhood and I submitted a piece and I got in,” she says.
But before too long, public school teacher Skaggs and her husband, journalist David Serchuk, realized that raising kids in New York City was a costly endeavor. The couple moved to Louisville.
“And not even six months later, The Moth came to Louisville, and I thought, ‘Now Louisville is perfect for me,” recalls Skaggs.
The storytelling scene here has continued to grow, and eventually Skaggs started thinking about her performance with Expressing Motherhood, realizing the event might be a good fit for Louisville. She emailed Kavet and pitched the idea of bringing the show to Derby City.
“I was expecting her to shoot me down, and instead she got back to me right away and said, ‘This is crazy, we were already planning to come to Louisville,’” says Skaggs.
When Kavet uses local producers, she tries to find people who have had some connection to the show, and producers in cities like Chicago are former performers — just like Skaggs.
Originally, Kavet had planned on producing the Louisville show from afar with the help of Louisville native Shannon Noel, an L.A.-based musician who has performed with Expressing Motherhood on the West Coast. But when Skaggs contacted Kavet, she was asked to join the team.
To drum up submissions from Louisville, Skaggs reached out to the local storytelling community, including local Moth producer Tara Anderson, who made frequent announcements at the monthly event.
Skaggs says they received an incredible array of submissions, enough that it made the process of picking the best very difficult.
“It’s a good problem to have,” she says. “We wanted to keep, like, 18 pieces, and that’s not gonna work for the show.” The pool eventually was narrowed down to 13.
The stories they chose might not be exactly what you’re expecting, Skaggs warns. “People hear about the show and they think, ‘This is gonna be a bunch of people telling their birth stories, and talking about breastfeeding.’”
While there are some more traditional mom-based yarns, many of these stories approach motherhood from a variety of angles.
“We do have men in the show, and they talk about their mothers,” says Skaggs. “And we have one person in the show talking about how she doesn’t want to be a mother, and she’s often told, ‘Oh, but you’d be such a great mother,’ and she’s, like, ‘I don’t care, it’s not my calling in life.’”
Skaggs will be telling a story herself. Having seen her perform multiple times, this writer can say if the rest of the storytellers are half as good as she is, it will be an excellent evening of entertainment.
Expressing Motherhood hits the stage for one night only on Saturday, March 25, at Headliners Music Hall at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online. Headliners is located at 1386 Lexington Road.