The Moth Mainstage storytelling event comes to Breckenridge
The Moth Mainstage
Date: Aug. 18
Time: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Location: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge
More info: Visit www.BreckCreate.org
OK, so, I was checking my email the other day, just a normal thing, and all of a sudden I see this subject line in my inbox, announcing the line-up for the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts. So I click on it and inside it gives this whole list, including one name that stands out to me right away — The Moth. Do you know The Moth? Oh man, I love it! I download the podcast every chance I get to listen to new stories. Anyway, I was practically jumping at the keyboard and emailed my colleague Heather, all “Hey, can I cover this for the paper? Please???” and she was like, “Sure,” and that’s how I ended up on the phone with Maggie Cino and, later, Dame Wilburn.
SO, WHAT’S GOING ON?
The Moth is coming to Breckenridge. The Moth — with which many National Public Radio listeners will be familiar — is a nonprofit organization focused on bringing storytelling to the spotlight, in person and over the radio.
Four performers plus a host will present The Moth Mainstage, a two-hour live storytelling event, on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge.
They will tackle the theme of Into the Wild, and all its various, layered meanings.
“’Into the Wild’ can mean a bunch of things,” said Moth senior producer Maggie Cino. “We’ve got a story where ‘the wild’ turned out to be the world of the Spice Girls (laughs). We do have a story about actually going out into the wilderness; we have a story (where) … ‘the wild’ turned out to be their new life in the city, so it’s just a lot of different interpretations on that theme.”
Robb Woulfe, president and CEO of Breckenridge Creative Arts, said that he was thrilled with the theme when he learned about it.
“I thought it was just perfect. Regardless of the festival, I thought it was perfect for Breckenridge,” he said. “It totally captured the essence of what we’re trying to do with the festival.”
THE ART OF STORYTELLING
“The Moth is true first-person storytelling,” said Cino. “(It’s) the kinds of stories that you tell your friends, that you tell your loved ones, that you tell over a beer or on a third date, or to a group of friends at the bar, or late at night to your best friend. It’s those kinds of stories, it’s moments in your life that are funny, that are sad, that are poignant, but that really stand out to you and are part of the things that make you, you.”
This will be the first time that the Moth Mainstage will have visited Breckenridge, though it does have a presence in Boulder and Denver. However, faithful listeners of the Moth Radio Hour or the podcast will recognize the format.
Dame Wilburn, an artist from Detroit, will host. She has hosted a number of Moth events, and says she loves every minute of it and is sure that those who come will feel the same.
“When you’re a part of a live audience and you’re listening to people telling stories, it’s much more akin to the way we used to do storytelling; it’s the oldest way we’ve ever communicated,” she said. And, as opposed to being in the car listening to the radio or podcast, at the live experience, “there’s nothing between you and the story.”
Just speaking to Wilburn over the phone felt like jumping into the middle of a Moth podcast. She’s a natural entertainer and storyteller, with a rich and rhythmic speaking cadence. Each interview question she answered came with a snippet of a story that had me laughing or eager to hear more.
“You don’t get half as much meat (on a restaurant menu in the Mid-west) as you do in Wyoming,” she said of her recent trip for a Moth performance in Jackson Hole. And, of eating out in Maine — “Everybody was eating lobster except the people who lived there.”
AN INTIMATE EXPERIENCE
Many of the BIFA events this upcoming week are big and flashy — concerts, circus performances, art installations — so The Moth acts as a balance, focused less on visual spectacle than emotional and inward, mindful interaction.
“I love contrasting that big visual experience with something so intimate, as this,” Woulfe said. “And that’s the beauty of a festival, right? You can have those same experiences in the same day.”
Moth performances are an organic process. Instead of having a memorized script, the performers will work over their story with Moth personnel, such as Cino, until they get the timing, important points and cadence just right.
“There’s no notes, the stories are not quote-unquote memorized, but we do give people the opportunity to talk through the story, think through the story (ahead of time),” Cino said.
Also, each Moth performance is unique, and will not be repeated in the same way, if at all. The Breckenridge performance — with musical interludes by local cellist Russick Smith — will be recorded for podcast download.
“It’s such a human experience, you’re connecting with everyone in that audience,” said Wilburn, of being a Moth storyteller. And for the audience, “It’s not like going to the movies, it’s not like going to see theater — it’s a very different experience because you’re also a part of that story.”
Wilburn, who has performed theater, spoken word and music live, said that Moth audiences are her favorite.
“Moth audiences are the only audience that I’ve been a part of … where every single person in the room is on your side,” she said “They want you to be great, they want you to do well; they’re not looking just to be entertained by you, they’re rooting for you, and that is something to experience.”
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