Laura Albert http://www.lauraalbert.org/ is the author of Sarah (JT LeRoy) Just release on Ebook http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401311113?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1401311113&linkCode=xm2&tag=lauraalcom-20
I usually explain to folks that The Moth is a non-profit storytelling series: People from all walks of life get up in front of a live audience and tell a story without a script, without index cards. But it aint that simple. The Moth is really a dedicated team that allows storytelling to flourish as an art. And now you can sit in bed surrounded by all these voices, with the release of the book "The Moth: 50 True Stories," their first printed collection.
I had an opportunity to tell my story at The Moth, and the experience was terrifying but transformative. I had a net with the Moth folks there, who helped me express what I felt was too much for me to convey. Storytelling is how we find out who we are; it is how we heal. As Oscar Wilde said, "Give a man a mask and he'll tell you the truth." The mask that The Moth allows is craft. The Moth holds the soul of a story — and of the teller — with such passion and compassion that the deeper truth is able to flourish.
Ultimately The Moth is about love — as corny as that sounds — and that is why it feels so good. The Moth serves love, using craft to break through the illusion of our separateness.
I interviewed The Moth's Artistic Director, Catherine Burns, about this new book and the process and the magic that is The Moth.
LA: I really look forward to settling down with each story, it's like entering into a mini-adventure! I enjoy the sense of being dropped into a maze, knowing there are going to be twists and turns, and even though I have no clue which way it's going to go, I know there will always be a payoff! What do you look for when you are exploring a potential Moth story?
CB: As you know from working with Sarah Austin Jenness on your story, we always look for stories where there is change in the person as a result of what happened. It doesn't have to be life or death, but ideally it's life changing in some way. When I'm working on a story, once I know what that shift is going to be, then we can go back and figure out how to structure the story so that the listener goes on that journey with the storyteller. We figure out what you need to know at the beginning, to make you really appreciate where the person ends up.
LA: The more I read the stories, the more astonished I am to realize that they are TOLD stories. And I know how you workshop — the final story that's told is not a memorized script or spoon-fed tale. It's almost as if each narrative has its organic track, and like a chiropractor, you make adjustments so the form can go forth — and dance! It's that idea of the
sculpture being already in the marble, you just have to clear away the excess. In my experience, folks become very attached to their story — it can become an organizing principle, an identity. The craft that goes into telling an effective story might seem fake to some, but it isn't. Other Moth storytellers have told me about the profound reshaping made available by The Moth process — a powerful transformation of how we hold not just our story, but our lives. And the act of sharing concretizes this shift even more, which makes the craft of storytelling such a powerful tool.
CB: With a story, you're always looking for that moment of change. People often find looking at their life that way empowering. When you have to put the events of your life into a story, you see a lot of cause and effect: Because I did this, this happened. People often realize that they have far more control of elements of their lives than they previously thought, and this can be exciting. So often we can't control things that happen, but more often than not, we can. You start to see that how you choose to react to something can greatly change the outcome. What are we really but a collection of stories? And how we frame up our own stories can have a huge effect on how we see our life and our place in the world. You change the frame just a little bit, and suddenly you feel different about yourself (usually in the best
LA: The Moth has been around for nearly 17 years, and you have had long-term storytellers who have re-told their stories over the years. How has The Moth affected them? How have you seen it affect folks who were given the tools to shape their story?
The Moth: As for telling and re-telling the stories, I do think people find new depths in meaning to their own stories over time. I also know that the storytellers are affected by hearing from listeners who have been impacted by hearing their stories. For instance Ed Gavagan, who tells the story of being stabbed and left for dead in the streets of New York, still hears from dozens of listeners whenever his story re-airs. Many of them have experienced similar traumas and want to thank him because hearing his story has helped helped them process their own. In turn, I think hearing from them moves him forward in his own process of healing, which continues to this day even though the stabbing happened many
years ago at this point. Occasionally we've also had someone stop wanting to tell a story because things have changed in their lives. Their perspective might have changed, and the story no longer feels true to them. But that is very rare!
Laura Albert's Moth appearance can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxAHHXE0HOw
#The Moth, #Moth, #Jt LeRoy, #Laura Albert, #storytelling, #Adam Gopnik,
#Catherine Burns, #Public Radio, #NPR, #True Stories