Live storytelling events in Portland

Enjoy an evening of true and captivating tales, told to a live audience.

Vin Shambry by Win GoodbodyPortland actor Vin Shambry performs at a Back Fence PDX event.
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    Win Goodbody

    Storytelling events have been sweeping the nation in recent years, thanks in part to radio shows like This American Life, events like The Moth, podcasts like Serial and essayists like David Sedaris. Experience an unforgettable night of enthralling, true stories at these Portland events:

    The Moth

    Founded in 1997, national nonprofit The Moth has hosted more than 3,000 spellbinding live shows, and its award-winning podcast is routinely ranked in iTunes’ Top 20. Portland’s Holocene and The Secret Society both hold monthly Moth Story Slams, featuring five-minute stories on pre-announced themes like “Movies,” “Jokers” and “The Dark Side.” Feeling brave? Prepare your own story and submit your name at the event — you could be chosen to perform!

    Back Fence PDX

    “No lies. No notes. No memorization.” Those three simple rules guide the performances at Back Fence PDX, Portland’s flagship storytelling event. Expect an evening of polished stories from veteran comedians, actors and authors from Portland, New York, Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

    Bored by traditional storytelling events? Try “Russian Roulette,” which challenges performers to spin a giant wheel of prompts and craft five-minute true stories based on their results, or “Reel Stories,” which invites filmmakers to pair personal tales with their own movie and television clips — including outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage.


    Hosting events everywhere from Amsterdam to Austin, Mortified invites adults to share their most embarrassing childhood relics — think diaries, poetry, photos, songs and home videos — in front of total strangers. Catch a bi-monthly show at the Alberta Rose Theatre, and be prepared to squirm!

    Mystery Box

    Dubbed an “intimate evening of sexy storytelling,” The Mystery Box Show is most definitely not for children … or prudish adults, for that matter. Each all-too-true story centers on sex, ranging from first times to freaky fetishes and dark fantasies, as told by porn stars, sex toy experts, comedians, authors and more. Voyeurs welcome. 

    Portland Story Theater

    Local storytelling collective Portland Story Theater gathers several times each year to perform true tales on a common theme. Events often revolve around a holiday (like “Luck of the Irish” in March, “Spellbound” in October and “Kiss & Tell” in February). The group’s “Armchair Adventurer” series presents historical events through a personal lens, sharing the heart-wrenching sagas of Nantucket whaling ships and doomed Antarctic expeditions.

    Urban Tellers

    Offered several times each year, Portland Story Theater’s “Art of the Personal Narrative” workshop teaches participants to craft 10-minute stories about experiences that radically changed their lives. The remarkable results are presented in an evening of live jazz and storytelling at the historic Alberta Abbey. Intrigued? The group’s top 10 stories of 2014 are available for free on the Urban Tellers website.

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