You are onstage, mic in hand, when the lights go up. There’s a sea of faces and they’re all trained on you. They’re waiting for you to tell them a story – but not just any story. Your most personal, least flattering story – the one you could barely tell your mum, let alone a crowd of 100 strangers.

Why on earth would someone subject themselves to this living nightmare?

“I think it’s like going hang-gliding – there’s something terrifying about it but you also enjoy it because it’s terrifying,” says Maggie Cino, senior producer of The Moth – a live storytelling night and hugely popular podcast.

And while it might be most people’s idea of a nightmare, this is exactly what a team of storytellers will be doing when The Moth brings its show, The Razor’s Edge, to the Festival Of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney this weekend. Emotional hang-gliding, with a live audience.

It’s fitting that the show’s theme centres on danger. The lineup includes Dan Ilic, Suki Kim and Adrienne Truscott, and will be hosted by David Crabb. Each will tell a story about a different type of danger. “Physical danger, emotional danger, like exhilarating danger,” says Cino. Truscott, for example, spent years as a circus acrobat before braving the world of comedy. So that covers physical and emotional.

Apart from the theme, there is something else all Moth stories have in common: an element of vulnerability from the storyteller.

“A willingness to be honest and talk about the parts of your life that maybe aren’t your proudest moments … that’s the only thing I think that’s really essential,” Cino explains. “[To] be like, ‘Hey, this was a time when things didn’t go so well.’ And that means very, very different things to every single storyteller.”

It’s something that comes through very clearly when listening to The Moth podcast. Whether it’s a hilarious story from Starlee Kine about waiting in line for a Marina Abramović show, or Anthony Griffith’s heartbreaking recount of losing his daughter to cancer while he was performing stand-up each night, the sense of vulnerability ties them together.

“Sometimes [the stories] are hilarious and sometimes they’re very sad,” says Cino. “In the end, it all comes together really beautifully and sometimes I find that the saddest stories have the most beautiful moments of levity.”

Even so, being vulnerable in front of a small group of friends on a porch in Georgia (which is the legend of how The Moth’s storytelling nights began) is a very different proposition to baring your soul to an Opera House-sized crowd. Plus, many performers are not actually actors, writers or experienced in performance of any kind. Cino says they often like to get cops or others onstage, who usually wouldn’t tell their story. “We love to be able to find people like that and give them an opportunity to have a platform,” she says.

Cino also works to train people in the art of live storytelling. “Part of the reason that we do work with people really closely is that it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. It’s not something the majority of people naturally go towards.”

The producer maintains that even with a podcast that gets downloaded over a million times each month, The Moth’s storytelling night is still an intimate live experience. So, if you’re game, you’re in luck. Plans are in place to bring a monthly StorySLAM to Sydney – your opportunity to see if you have that special something that makes a great storyteller.

Scared? No worries. According to Cino: “You’re sort of not doing it right if you’re not a little scared.”

[ABOVE:The Moth’s Maggie Cino]

The Moth: The Razor’s Edgeis on Sunday September 6 at theConcert Hall, Sydney Opera House, as part of Festival Of Dangerous Ideas 2015.

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