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Pop Filter Hot Pick: The Moth Mainstage presents UPHILL, Stories of the Impossible

Back for its much anticipated third-annual--and now sold out--local installment, the wildly popular New York City-based storytelling sensation The Moth is bringing its latest Mainstage series, UPHILL: Stories of the Impossible, to the venerable Northside venue.

Dubbed “New York’s hottest and hippest literary ticket” by the Wall Street Journal, the two-act show features live storytelling performances based on a particular theme. Each Moth Mainstage event includes five storytellers, a local musician and a charismatic emcee. And no notes are allowed.

Past Moth luminaries include celebrated writers and actors, as well as everyday raconteurs with true stories to tell—car salesmen, business execs, astronauts, and even a former pickpocket. Everyone from Lili Taylor to Moby to a hot dog-eating champ have shared compelling tales.

To present the show, the acclaimed nonprofit organization--which is passionately dedicated to the art of storytelling--is teaming up with Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. This year's "pit stop" promises the show's signature performative flair and lineup of prolific tellers--from auspicious Burgh natives and transplants to a transsexual filmmaker. More than 500 people are expected to attend.

Emily Price, with Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, underscores The Moth's strong connection to Pittsburgh's rich literary history and diverse audiences for the art form: "We’re grateful to The Moth for making Pittsburgh a regular stop in its “Moth on the Road” programming for three consecutive years. With success in cities like Portland and Detroit, Pittsburgh was a logical next step. We’re a mid-size city with a diverse population and a strong oral history. The show’s theme this year, UPHILL: Stories of the Impossible, speaks to these qualities of the city. Local storyteller Sala Udin, for instance, has a history of working in the Hill District as well as with the Civil Rights Movement.  Experiences like his are the meat of great stories.  In addition, Pittsburgh has a strong radio presence. Interest in public radio and shows like This American Life directly correlate with local interest in Moth stories and podcasts," says Price, who expects the program to continue as an annual happening.

Providing the glue to the night's stories is honorary host-emcee and Moth veteran, Rudy Rush. An acclaimed comedian, Rush is best known for his work with Showtime at the Apollo, Def Comedy Jam and The Ride with Doug and DeDe. On the hometown front, local politico Sala Udin--a former City Councilman and now CEO of Coro Pittsburgh (not to mention an amateur actor!), will weave his own tales of the impossible, while long-time Pittsburgh columnist Sally Kalson will break away from her reporting days and satirical commentary to tackle the art of storytelling.

Transsexual New York-based filmmaker Kimberly Reed--a former class president and high school quarterback who hails from Montana--will share her unique story, while Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, author of the critically acclaimed memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, will reflect upon his early days growing up poor in Pittsburgh as the son of an Iranian father and Jewish-American mother who were linked to the Socialist Workers Party.

Rounding off the cast of terrific tellers is visiting comedic storyteller Elna Baker. Author of The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, Baker has appeared on This American Life, All Things Considered, BBC Radio 4, and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Texas native, and now Lawrenceville resident, Jenn Gooch will serve as event timekeeper and present incidental music on the tenor guitar.

"It's kind of like putting together a puzzle, "says Price, when describing the storyteller selection process. "It's a fun way to end the summer."

A nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of oral storytelling, The Moth was founded in 1997 by writer George Dawes Green, who aimed to recreate the sultry summer evenings on his native St. Simon’s Island, Georgia—when moths would the light on the porch where he and his intimate circle of friends would gather to spin spellbinding tales. According to Moth myth, when the program's crew goes on the road, they pick up local storytellers along the way. The Moth has presented more than 3,000 stories from people of all walks of life via acclaimed live shows, podcasts and radio programs.

Dying to catch the storytelling phenom but were not lucky enough to snag a ticket? Don't worry, you'll be able to download the program's free podcast to experience all of the Moth mania!

The show is sold out.

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