The Moth Storytellers Take Stony Brook Southampton Stage

The Moth, a New York City nonprofit dedicated to the art of storytelling, is headed east for the first time, making its Hamptons debut during the Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference.

Sponsored by The Southampton Review, the Moth presentation on Friday, July 18 will be hosted by The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. The featured storytellers, Ted Conover, Tara Clancy, Wendy Suzuki, Meg Wolitzer and Simon Doonan, will share true tales around the theme “Fish Out of Water.”

Those familiar with the public radio program The Moth Radio Hour will know what the event will be like: A solo speaker on stage tells a personal story, with no notes.

These aren’t rehearsed-to-death monologues recited after rote memorization. The stories aren’t acted out—they’re told.

The story must be based on the speaker’s own experience; it can’t be a story the speaker heard from a family member or friend.

Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik, Photo: Courtesy Stony Brook Southampton

What seems like simple rules actually narrows down the field significantly, and it lends an authenticity to the event. Some stories are strictly amusing. Some are eye-opening. Others are heart-wrenching and cathartic for both speaker and audience.

The Moth attracts all kinds, from actors, directors and stand-up comedians to people who have never worked in the arts or the entertainment field but just have a story to tell.

Because this particular Moth event is happening at a writer’s conference, the bill is full of wordsmiths. Wolitzer is a novelist. Clancy is an essayist. Conover is a nonfiction author who rode the rails with hoboes, worked as a Sing Sing guard and crossed the U.S.–Mexico border with migrants. Suzuki is an author whose primary career is professor of neural science. Simon Doonan is an author and fashion commentator.

“Fish Out of Water: The Moth in Southampton” takes place Friday, July 18, at 7:30 p.m. at Avram Theater on the Stony Brook Southampton campus,  239 Montauk Hwy, Southampton. Tickets are $50. Order at

Simon Doonan

Simon Doonan, Photo: Courtesy Stony Brook Southampton

The Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference this month falls under the banner of Southampton Arts Summer, which also includes a children’s literature conference, international theater workshops, a film program, and a few select public events that are free.

Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell, starring Mercedes Ruehl, Matthew Klam and Ain Gordon, will be performed Saturday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. The five-person ensemble will deliver Gray’s stories and monologues with material recently gleaned from his letters and journals.

Reading: What I Really Want to Do Is Write Plays, including selections from plays by poet Julie Sheehan and fiction writer Christian McLean, is produced by Stony Brook Southampton faculty with The Southampton International Theatre Workshops and Festival, part of the campus’s MFA in Theatre program. This reading event is Monday, July 14, at 7:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, July 15, at 7 p.m. at the Duke Lecture Hall, the documentary Let There Be Light by John Huston will be screened. This 1946 film is “about veterans with shell shock and how they were censored by the Army,” according to the conference. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on PTSD with war correspondent Masha Gessen, combat veteran and writer Adrian Bonenberger and director of the World Trade Center health program Benjamin Luft. Daniel Menaker will moderate. 

These three events are all free, but require reservations. Go to and click “Events.”

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