TEEN AMBASSADOR:HANNAH POWERS | FEBRUARY 2, 2017
I’ll be honest: as I was on my way to the Zeiterion to go see the MOTH, I didn’t know what to
As people settled into their seats, I flipped through my program, trying to gain some idea of what
I was about to see. I didn’t recognize any of the names, but just before the lights began to dim
my eyes alighted on a passage on the bottom corner of the page: “Since its launch in 1997, THE
MOTH has presented thousands of stories told live and without notes.” Story-telling? I was
suddenly very curious.
The spotlight blazed up and illuminated our host, Dan Kennedy. Kennedy introduced the show
with an infectious passion that quickly transferred into the audience. His humor perfectly set the
stage (pardon the pun) for the first storyteller, Molly Kendall.
Before we could meet Kendall, however, we got a really special treat. Tatiana Hargreaves took
her place under the spotlight and began to play her violin with an ardent intensity that left the
whole room speechless. For a moment, when she was done, the audience was too in awe to
applaud. It was truly an amazing experience.
Following this performance, Hargreaves sat down, and Kennedy proceeded to explain that the
talented violinist was not only there to share her music, but to serve as a “timekeeper”. Kennedy
told us that the storytellers would be allowed approximately 10 minutes to spin their tales. If the
performers were getting close to their limit, Hargreaves would warn them by playing a certain
note on her instrument.
After this elucidation of the rules, Kennedy made way for our first storyteller: Molly Kendall, a
Californian mother and self-proclaimed maker of a “mean cappuccino”. Kendall, although
initially seeming a little timid in front of such a big crowd, quickly relaxed into her story. She
somehow managed to weave two totally different aspects of her life together seamlessly, in a
way that made sense and brought her narrative to another level. Because of the flawless way with
which she brought these two parts of her past together, I was nearly crying and then laughing, all
in under 10 minutes. Eventually, because of how good her stage presence was, I was able to lose
myself in her life. I felt her loss. Her embarrassment became my embarrassment. I breathed a
sigh of relief when she did. It was like nothing I had experienced before.
Her story, however, couldn’t have prepared me for the one that followed. Mr. Kennedy next
introduced Daniel Turpin, a New England dweller who enjoys spending time with his wife and
loved ones. When Turpin took the stage, I didn’t have an inkling that his story was going to leave
me with an existential crisis on my hands. His somber tone and demeanor helped his story to
really take root, and the way he chose his words painted the frightening imagery of his tale in my
brain. I quickly lost myself in his narrative. My heart was beating fast, and I remember how
vividly I felt his fear and confusion because of the way he talked. It was an intense moment, and
one I’ll not soon forget. Mr. Turpin left the stage to thunderous applause.
Finally (for me, anyway), a classical singer and part-time storyteller by the name of Christopher
Herbert took the microphone. Herbert’s story was a nice relief, and the residual heaviness in the
room from Turpin’s turn quickly dissipated. In no time, the crowd was laughing along with
Herbert as he reminisced about a rather impressive jam he’d gotten himself into not long ago.
Every word he picked set the mood further, and every well-timed paused was filled with the
audience’s laughter. I was on the edge of my seat half the time, wondering how he was going to
get himself out of such a pickle. It was a blast.
Unfortunately, when intermission time came, I had to leave. I was and am very sad that I didn’t
get to finish the show. However, from what I did see, I was not only pleasantly surprised, but
very impressed. Storytelling is alive and well, my friends, and you can find some of the best
performers at the MOTH.
My only complaint for this show? There were no actual moths. That was a bit of a let down.