Porch Tales: THE MOTH KEEPS STORYTELLING FLAME BURNING

Denise Ofelia Mangen photos

Denise Ofelia Mangen photos

Working on The Moth is an endless stream of fascinating,” says Maggie Cino, senior producer, story coach, and director of the Peabody Award-winning organization/ show/workshop/podcast. This evening of storytelling – no scripts, no words on the page – comes to Campbell Hall on Thursday with a cast of familiar and unfamiliar faces.

The Moth has gained notoriety and momentum over the last five years due to its podcast and public radio show, but it was started back in 1997 by George Dawes Green, a poet and novelist who wanted an evening that recreated the sort of laid-back summer evenings of his native Georgia, where funny and poignant yarns would be spun among friends.

The first Moth evenings started in New York, but the amount of storytellers and the relative low cost meant it was suited for export.

Soon The Moth had events in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and other cities. On top of that it hosts StorySlams, open mic nights that invite everybody to have a go as long as it’s around five minutes. (Moth stories are usually ten. Any longer and Ms. Cino urges writers to start thinking about solo shows). Ms. Cino is a playwright and recently

won the Fringe NYC 2012 Overall Excellence Award for her full-length play “Decompression.” But for the Moth she prefers (and only has time for) working behind the scenes, encouraging storytellers with their works.

“Make it more obvious,” is her most common advice. Also, “Don’t assume everybody is like you,” which is a problem more often than one would think.

Working with nascent writers has been very successful for Ms. Cino and The Moth, which has an outreach program into schools and communities. Last year they worked in a charter high school in Los Angeles. They found a “retired pickpocket” called O.T. Powell who just blossomed into a natural raconteur. A retired cop, Steve Os-bourne, showed up at a slam and has been writing ever since. (For anybody interested in joining the experience, check out themoth.org for upcoming events.)

For Thursday evening, the lineup includes actress Molly Ring-wald, who brings a story about her childhood friend; Ellie Lee, a documentarian who tells about an animated documentary she made (and like Ms. Ringwald, this is her Denise Ofelia Mangen photos second time at The Moth); Craig Chester, who tells a very Hollywood story about a haunted house; and two performers from the L.A. storyslam events, Jessica Lee Williamson,

who talks about her move from the City of Angels to Arizona to live with her boyfriend; and Kevin McGeehan, who has a story about throwing a final party for his dying mother.

“You want to tell on yourself,” Ms. Cino says, when asked what makes a story successful. “It’s a willingness to show yourself in a hurt or awkward light. The audience can tell when you’re trying to look cool – that’s a distancing factor. But if you come out and are willing to put in on the line, like this is me and all of my foolishness,

the love that comes back is amazing.”

‘The Moth’
When:8p.m. Thursday
Where: UCSB’s Campbell Hall Cost:$35/$15
Information: 893-3535 or www.artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu

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