Journalists tell true stories all the time. On Tuesday, a few of them will be telling “True Stories” onstage in front of paying customers.
It’s an experiment, very much in the spirt of “The Moth” and “The Bee,” said the organizers, KUER reporter Erik Neumann and freelance photojournalist Kim Raff.
“It’s sort of a more engaging format,” Raff said. “People are experiencing it, as opposed to just reading it on a screen. They’re physically present, experiencing it live.
“We’re also hitting people in more ways than one.”
Raff and Neumann are also two of the performers. They’ll be joined by Salt Lake Tribune political cartoonist Pat Bagley, freelance journalist Jennifer Dobner, radio producer/podcaster Andrea Smardon (“Changing Our Stories”), animator Jeff Atwood and investigative reporter/podcaster Andrew Becker (“The Monarch”).
And the band Book on Tape Worm will perform between stories.
The reporters/performers will present stories about identity and exclusion, a personal essay about coming to terms with loss, and photography about divisions in America.
“It’s not like we’re talking about the day’s events,” Neumann said. “It’s more like nonfiction narrative stories. Stories that are real and that are entertaining at the same time.”
Unlike the personal stories heard in “The Moth,” “These are reported stories,” he said.
Neumann was inspired by Pop-Up Magazine, which began in San Francisco in 2009. It also features reporters onstage presenting stories and has proven to be wildly popular. He and Raff believe it can work in Utah as well, and have spent countless hours organizing the event and working on their presentations.
They got a bit of help from the Salt Lake City Arts Council, which kicked in a $2,000 grant. And then KUER-FM partnered with the event, allowing them to book the State Room.
“I really love this format because it’s these people who don’t normally get to collaborate working together on storytelling,” Raff said. “I think that’s a great way of taking stories to another place, another level, another dimension that they hadn’t really thought about.”
And a chance for reporters to step out from behind the curtain and connect with their audience.
“It sounds cheesy, but I think [it’s] just kind of a unique, special experience,” Neumann said. “A lot of reporters are not necessarily performers. We oftentimes just sit at our desks. I know that I’m talking to a lot of people on the radio on a regular basis, but more often than not I’m standing by myself in a sound studio talking to a microphone.
“This can be kind of raw and feels kind of different than seeing an actor who’s in a play, or a band or something like that. It’s a bunch of people who are really passionate about stories, so it’s a different venue to let them do that.”
When • Tuesday, May 15, 7:30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Where • The State Room, 638 S. State St., Salt Lake City
Tickets • $20 (general admission) available at The State Room box office and online at thestateroom.com and kuer.org