LIVE: The Moth @ Troy Music Hall, 05/13/2022

After years of waiting due to COVID-related delays, ticket holders filled Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Friday, May 13th, for a sold-out presentation of The Moth. “Out of the Blue: The Moth in Troy” featured five individual, personal and true stories shared live without notes.  Two of the five presenters had ties to the capital region, making it feel even more intimate. Each takes 10-12 minutes to tell her or his story on the theme of “out of the blue.”

Photo by Jim Gilbert for The Moth

Dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, The Moth has become a phenomenon in recent years. Starting 25 years ago, the nonprofit organization has showcased human experiences through story across the globe. In-person, podcast, and radio performances of the story have become part of many people’s routines. The Moth uses storytelling to build empathy and connection and provides workshops for high school students, adults and advocates through its programming.

Opening with Dan Gabel‘s trombone solo, the presentation had an artsy vibe punctuated by the music as a connector too. Gabel’s ability to tell a story through music captivated the crowd who sat in the very warm, historic theatre. The fans then cheered as host Kate Tellers, a storyteller herself and senior director at The Moth, leapt waving across the stage her welcome. Teller explained Gabel was there not only to provide music but as a timekeeper to remind them of their agreement to stick to their stories.

Carolyn Meyer – Photo by Jim Gilbert for The Moth

The five storytellers each had unique and fun ways to engage the audience. Carolyn Meyer‘s story challenged listeners to see her (and others) outside of the limits society often imposes on age. Estella Jones shared how she overcame poverty to achieve her dreams of studying veterinary medicine with exotic animals, traveling across the globe against all odds. Jones even had studied at Emma Willard on scholarship, gathering great excitement from the crowd. Andrew McGill explored how his love for his father initially broke him, and then healed him, through the metaphor of gifts. Michael Corso, a SUNY Albany alum and 34-year public servant in NYS’s Public Service Commission, achieved a lifelong goal of driving a car despite being blind. His humorous description brought everyone back to the track with him as he drove a stock car guided only by another person’s words across a dusty track, and felt more alive than ever before.

Michael Corso – Photo by Jim Gilbert for The Moth

But the most powerful story of the night came at the end from Jill Chenault, a defense attorney, actor, writer, and dog lover who survived a horrific sexual assault while drugged. When given the chance for revenge, she initially embraced the concept of violence; even her elementary school mother supported the plan, which she set out to use to get revenge on her perpetrator.  Something happened in Chenault, however, during the process of facing her perpetrator, and she tells with precise language about how she is able to shift back her power (“and stop hearing the ocean” of anger in her head) by using language and storytelling instead.

Jill Chenault – Photo by Jim Gilbert for The Moth

The historic hall is not air-conditioned, and many folks were visibly uncomfortable but tolerated the heat for the joy of the story. Everyone seemed to connect with some aspects of the storytelling and seeing who connected to what story was fascinating. The audience members were allowed to approach each storyteller during intermission and at the close of the event, and many did choose to connect to the artists who bravely shared their stories.

This production of The Moth featured Catherine Burns as Artistic Director and Sarah Haberman as Executive Director, and all took the stage together to a standing ovation two hours after opening. The Moth will return to Troy Music Hall on April 7, 2023, with members’ presale starting Monday, May 16th. This popular event sold out last time very quickly, and it was clear to see why: people seek connection and what better way to connect than through the art of language?

Photo by Jim Gilbert for The Moth

If you couldn’t make it to this event, and you don’t want to wait until next year to experience storytelling as a connection to others, a local group hosts a similar format for others to come to share their five-minute stories on the second Wednesday of every month in Troy at Little Pecks. The restaurant features good drinks, food, and storytelling in an open mic format. Come listen, and maybe share your own five-minute story.

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