Kelly Killoren Bensimon chats with the heads of (RED) charity and The Moth storytelling series
Do you remember waiting for your parent to tell you a familiar story, or do you blush when a loved one tells a story about what you’ve done in the past that you may not want to remember? Deborah Dugan, below, is the CEO of (RED) and is also on the board of The Moth, a storytelling series. (RED) was founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver and engages businesses and people in the fight against AIDS. Dugan and Sarah Haberman, above, executive director of The Moth, clue us into the world of storytelling and do-gooding.
What is The Moth?
A. SH: The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story — and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.
How did (RED) impact The Moth?
A. SH: The Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate and often enlightening experience for the audience. Moth stories dissolve socio-economic barriers, expose vulnerabilities and quietly suggest ways to overcome challenges and see with new eyes. Last week, the theme was sponsored by (RED).
Where can we participate or hear The Moth stories?
A. SH: The Moth podcast is downloaded more than 15 million times a year, and the Peabody Award-winning “The Moth Radio Hour,” produced by Jay Allison and presented by PRX, The Public Radio Exchange, airs weekly on radio stations nationwide. We also are at the Players Club and Cooper Union.
What is (RED)?
A. DD: To date, (RED) has generated close to $210 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and to support HIV/AIDS grants in Ghana, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia. One hundred percent of that money goes to work on the ground — no overhead is taken. Global Fund grants that (RED) supports have impacted more than 14 million people with prevention, treatment, counseling, HIV testing and care services. Our goal is to help eliminate mother- child transmission and put an end to AIDS.
What do you love about storytelling?
A. SH: Storytelling is a very vulnerable position to be in, and we see the storyteller endure the most incredible experiences. For some it’s cathartic. It’s only $8, and you’re allowed only five minutes a story and you are judged. Stakes are high.