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Thursday , April 25 2019

True stories: Moth turns 20 – Shared humanity

NEW YORK, June 28, (Agencies): What’s your story?

From mind-blowing circumstances to everyday moments, sharing a story about the human condition provides the stitch work for life’s tapestry.

That’s what people are doing through The Moth, a global storytelling initiative inspired by long-ago evenings on a small-town Georgia porch. The New York-based nonprofit has presented over 20,000 “

” since it was started by George Dawes Green in his Manhattan living room 20 years ago. He marvels at what it’s become.

Storytellers can participate in open-mic “slams” — five-minute talks in front of an audience without notes — in 22 U.S. cities; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; London and Dublin, Ireland. A podcast of recordings from live events attracts 44 million downloads a year.

The Moth Mainstage, featuring top-notch storytellers, tours internationally. There’s also a Peabody Award-winning radio show that airs weekly on 450 U.S. public radio stations and a new book, “The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown,” edited by Moth Artistic Director Catherine Burns.


“You go to a cocktail party and get interrupted every 20 seconds by conversation vultures,” says Green. But the world is “filled with great storytellers. They just weren’t given a chance.”

Green, a poet and novelist, has jaw-dropping true stories of his own: hitchhiking north at age 15; squatting in a mausoleum with a deranged derelict; finding his way home again.

But it’s tales about regular people, places and things that leave him “riveted” — a deli scene; a woman’s street mime encounter; a personal revelation.

“When people respond to my odd stories they respond to something they see in themselves,” says Green. The most “glorious stories … evoke a sense of universality.”

In The Moth’s nurturing cocoon, presenters and audiences laugh and cry together over deep, sometimes-dark secrets; embarrassments; hopes and fears; challenges overcome; conflict and resolution.

“We’re being told that the world is divided. I honestly believe stories are a part of the solution,” says Burns, who grew up begging her grandmother at the kitchen table to tell stories “over and over again.”

Like their listeners, Moth storytellers come from all walks of life: a refugee, an astronaut who couldn’t swim, a scientist haunted by a childhood regret — wishing he’d shared his extra hot dog with a boy who couldn’t afford one.

Hip-hop pioneer Darryl “DMC” McDaniels talked about an obsession with Sarah McLachlan’s ballad “Angel” that kept his suicidal thoughts at bay.

The “shared humanity” of The Moth, says storyteller Tara Clancy, creates “a commonality with people who may be very different from you.”

Clancy loves The Moth’s embrace of “underrepresented voices.” Her own stories, told in a distinct New York accent, celebrate “women from places like Queens.”

“It’s not easy to get up onstage,” says Clancy. “It’s terrifying, exhilarating; it runs the emotional spectrum.”

But The Moth has “the most supportive audiences,” says Clancy, who’s thrilled by their “rapt” expressions and empathetic eye contact.


LOS ANGELES: Location-based VR startup The Void is expanding to Canada: The Void announced the opening of its first VR Experience Center in Toronto Tuesday, where consumers can now immerse themselves in the “Ghostbusters: Dimension” VR experience in the newly-opened Rec Room arcade.

The Void is one of a number of startups looking to take location-based virtual reality mainstream. The company is best known for its flagship location at New York’s Times Square, where it premiered “Ghostbusters: Dimensions” last July.

That experience allows up to four players to visit the world of “Ghostbusters” equipped with custom-made headsets and special rumble vests to roam through a set equipped with VR trackers.

In addition to New York and Toronto, The Void also operates VR Centers in Dubai as well as Utah, and the company has quietly been preparing to launch dozens of additional locations in the coming months.

To launch its new Toronto center, The Void partnered with local theater chain Cineplex. “Toronto is in the heart of Ontario’s tourism hub and represents the type of market that The Void is looking for,” said CEO Cliff Plumer.

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