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Students flock to The Moth

Professor Dean Bakopoulos coaches student performers in a storytelling workshop last Monday. Photo by Aaron Juarez
Professor Dean Bakopoulos coaches student performers in a storytelling workshop last Monday. Photo by Aaron Juarez

For the first time ever, Grinnell’s own version of the popular radio series “The Moth” will be performed by eight students in Bob’s Underground Cafe at 8 p.m. tonight. The performance will consist of an hourlong show of storytelling.
KDIC Station Manager Emily Stuchiner ’15 said she has wanted to actualize this project since last year. Her plans finally came to fruition through the collaboration of the English Department and KDIC, which will be filming and posting the show on its website.
The Moth’s name was originally based on the concept of a group of people telling stories on a porch, with listeners drawn to the storytelling like moths. Stuchiner said that these days, the radio show visits cities around the world, providing a platform and live audience for people who want to tell stories.
The Grinnellian performers include Glenna Colerider-Krugh ’15, Doug Dale ’15, Sarah Farbman ’15, Geo Gomez ’15, Diane Lenertz ’15, Abby Lowe ’15, Charis Russell ’15 and Matthew Terry ’15.
“The only things that I requested was that it be a true story, that it pertain to the theme of overcoming obstacles and that it be within a five-minute range,” Stuchiner said.
Stuchiner felt that The Moth, although unusual in format and genre, was a perfect event for KDIC.
“[It’s] a really powerful event [that] calls upon people to tell a story from a more honest and personal perspective,” Stuchiner said. “We kind of fill the niches that other student groups don’t fill.”
Many of the performers were recruited from Grinnell’s improv team Ritalin Test Squad. Among them is Lowe, who said that participating in The Moth had a great resonance with her independent major, Visual and Narrative Identity, as an exploration of storytelling in diverse media.
Lowe shared a taste of the story that she will perform.
“It’s an embarrassing one—I usually find that humor helps draw people in,” Lowe said. “I was babysitting when I was 16 years old by myself, and I managed to lock myself in the family bathroom for close to eight hours.”
Lowe would not ruin the punch line, but said that the kids were not in danger and  promised that she “got a little creative.” She not only loves telling a good story, but said that the act of telling is a healing process for her.
“[It] keeps the demons at bay a little bit,” Lowe said.
Lowe said that she was nervous, but not as much as she thought she would be. She cites her experience with performing improv as a source of her confidence and reliance on the “beats” of her story.
A beat can be something of an anecdote, or a memorable portion of a story. This was one technique that Lowe learned during the performance preparation workshop lead by Professor Dean Bakopoulos, English.
Bakopoulos recounted the two main points of his coaching as being as specific as possible in order to create an image in the listener’s head, and having a kind of urgency and emotion, which he describes as “escalation,” or building the narrative stakes to keep the listener’s interest.
“When you’re at the top of the escalator, you see the world differently than you did at the beginning,” Bakopoulos said.
For Lowe, another takeaway from the workshop was that a good storyteller never hurries.
“The thing that really unifies the whole project is that we’re really still primally drawn to stories as much as we were thousands of years ago,” Bakopoulos said. “When someone comes into the circle or sits down at the table and says, ‘So, there’s something I want to tell you,’ we lean in and listen to it.”

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