The Moth Draws Sold Out Audience to Troy Savings

TROY –Storytelling is in. Finding funny, pithy ways to share meaning and connection with other humans through stories is one of the basic ideas behind “The Moth,” a 25-year-old not-for-profit group that provides an outlet for true personal stories to enraptured fans literally across the globe. “The Moth” stopped into Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Friday, April 7th, for two hours of laughter, some moments of quiet tears, and even some enlightenment about global warming.

Ophira Eisenberg (Photo by Jim Gilbert)

This is the second year “The Moth” has stopped at Troy Savings, and this year included two local storytellers from Nippertown on the program. Hosted by Ophira Eisenberg, who managed to tell jokes and her own stories on the theme of the night, “Who Do You Think You Are,” the evening included trombone player and time keeper Dan Gabel, as well as five story tellers who buzzed quickly through their memorized narratives.

Esmond Fountain was the first storyteller of the night, and his comedian background was immediately apparent. When the host asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he shared, “A stay-at-home dad with no kids.” The crowd really loved Fountain, who bravely shared how his desire to make friends left him vulnerable to low boundaries until he learned his own worth.

Esmond Fountain (Photo by Jim Gilbert)

D. Colin followed, a local poet and the Troy Kitchen’s Poetic Vibe founder. There was a noticeable following for D. in the theatre, with many audience members being followers of Poetic Vibe since she initiated the celebration of spoken word in 2016. Her story about becoming a poet was moving, especially since it flew against all she initially believed she was brought here for. As she explained it, she was the only child after a number of failed pregnancies – and her parents both served the community through their work in ministry. They had wanted her to be useful to society, to serve, and to take a job “that is easy to explain.” As D. spoke through her story, however, it became clearer and clearer to her that poetry is easy to explain and service to our community – especially Nippertown’s spoken word community. The crowd adored her.

D. Colin (Photo by Jim Gilbert)

Alistair Bane finished out the first half of the stories with his very moving story about finding himself, and his belonging, through connections to his ancestors. A very talented storyteller, Bane had the audience laughing as he poked fun at himself, relentlessly looking honestly at how others might have perceived parts of his experience with bold humility. I felt a strong connection to his healing, as he described that words can be “good medicine.” The words he received — and now chooses to share — were like good medicine to my soul, soothing me through his sometimes painful but always rewarding piece.

Alistair Bane (Photo by Jim Gilbert)

The break allowed some anticipation to build as Julia Cadieux, another Troy local, was speaking next. Cadieux’s story about coming of age and trying to find her “fantastic French life” diverged for a bit into the importance of connections with others as she described her part-time job bartending in a senior center while in college. Her self-awareness was apparent as she moved the audience through mistakes she made early on and how she learned from those heartbreaks. Although she had a moment of confusion, perhaps lost in the moment rather than her story, Cadieux appeared fully present on stage and connected to the audience. Many were delighted, cheering for her at the close of her story.

Julia Cadieux (Photo by Jim Gilbert)

The final story of the night belonged to Mary Blair, a Ph.D. in conservation biology who learned later in life that she was not Norwegian as she had thought but descended from Sami, indigenous reindeer herders in Norway. She spoke about her experiences of learning from her cousins that conservation had long been her family’s business, as indigenous people had been practicing strategies to thwart climate change long before the scientists got on board. Dressed in a traditional Sami dress, it was apparent Blair was embracing both aspects of herself – her ancestry and her adherence to science – in what she described as the important fight to save her people and our planet from the perilous outcomes of climate change.

Mary Blair (Photo by Jim Gilbert)

It was another full and satisfying live performance of “The Moth” in Troy. Jim and I walked to our car, bundled up against the unseasonably cold April night, talking. The stories presented were all so different. While I was somewhat discontented with the lack of congruence in some of the stories’ imagery and the message, it was a very sating evening.

You can catch all sorts of stories on “The Moth” on Friday afternoons on our local public radio station WAMC, or stream the podcast on your favorite streaming channel.

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