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‘The Moth Mainstage’ Brings Storytelling to The Argyros
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Friday, February 24, 2023
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Novelist George Dawes Green reveled in storytelling in a beach house on St. Simons Island, Ga., even as he wrote such novels as “The Caveman’s Valentine,” “The Juror” and “Ravens.” As he and his friends swapped stories, moths would enter the room through a hole in the screen, eventually filling the room up with moths.

“Let’s have another moth night,” he’d tell friends when the storytelling bug hit him again.

Green continued his passion for storytelling parties when he moved to New York City. And eventually he founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to storytelling that has presented more than 50,000 stories to crowds worldwide.

The Moth Mainstage, as that endeavor has come to be known, will come to Sun Valley for the first time at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 1, when five storytellers share their own personal stories on the stage of The Argyros.

“They’ll share true personal stories that will make people laugh, maybe cry, maybe contemplate another person’s experience,” said Jenifer Hixson, director of The Moth Mainstage.  “It’s sort of like a live documentary in a way because each storyteller brings their personal perspective to the stage relating real things that happened. And it’s theatrical because they’re on stage.”

The performance at The Argyros will feature two Idahoans groomed just for this occasion. One is Dirce Flores, a professional dancer who teaches Mexican folk dancing in the Wood River Valley. The other is a man who will share a moving story about his time as a Marine.

“It’s hardly a revolutionary thing—people telling stories. But there’s something about sitting there with the intention of listening and giving people time to tell true personal stories that elevates the experience,” said Hixson.

Some of those who take the stage at Moth Mainstage are celebrities, such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Kathleen Turner, Molly Ringwald and Rosanne Cash.

Others are people referred to The Moth by a tip line or through the Moth Radio Hour show that airs throughout the country on public radio stations. The Moth also finds some storytellers by reading interesting stories in newspapers.

“Every time I read an obituary in a newspaper, I say, ‘Darn, I wish we could have had them on stage,’ ” said Hixson. “Often, someone will hear a story of ours and it will remind them of a story in their own life and they’ll say, ‘I’ve got a story, too.’ It’s kind of like how a conversation happens. People want to tell their story so they approach us.”

Past storytellers have included an astronaut, a pickpocket and a hotdog eating champion. Hixson said it doesn’t matter if the storyteller is a huge celebrity, a Nobel laureate or a dental hygienist—each can tell a story that can be just as compelling as the others’.

One of Hixson’s favorites was Dr. George Lombardi who as a young doctor was whisked halfway across the globe to perform heart surgery on Mother Teresa, even though he felt unqualified.

“In the most surreal moment, I said a prayer to Mother Teresa for Mother Teresa,” he recounted.

“It was certainly a high stakes moment for him, and his story was amazing,” said Hixson. “Another equally engaging story came from a young man who videotaped a rock star on stage. All of a sudden, the rock star stopped the music and yelled, ‘Get this nerd off the stage!’ ”

“We have a few famous bear encounters, Mary Kay people talking about their service, family dramas, work dramas, romance… One woman did a hilarious presentation about online dating in her 70s,” she added.

Typically, audiences can’t wait to come back, she said: “People really love it—we always get invited back.”

Tickets to Wednesday’s performance are $30, available at https://theargyros.org/calendar/the-moth-mainstage/

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