Last Summer I attended my first Moth Story Slam. Elise Long the founder of Spoke the Hub Dancing ( where I teach dance and have shown my work) suggested that I try telling a story there. I had seen a Moth mainstage event at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City but had never attended a Story Slam.
The way the Story Slams works is, you are given a topic, you put your name in a hat and you may or may not be drawn, then you have 5-6 minutes to tell your story. When you hit 5 minutes they give you a warning cue and you have 1 minute to wrap it up. The stories are to be told without notes, should be about you, and tell the truth. They also suggest there be a transformative moment, and or a change that happens to you within the story.
I had not really rehearsed a story. The event was held at Housing Works Book Store in Soho, and in my mind I pictured 20 or so people sitting in a circle telling their stories. When I arrived (almost an hour early) the line was stretching to the end of the block. I waited.
After finally getting in I put my name in the hat. One after another, storytellers were picked from the hat. After 5 storytellers they broke for intermission.
I ran into a dance colleague, Leigh Schanfein, and as we chatted she decided she needed to leave because she needed to eat dinner. We even discussed going to dinner together, but I told her I felt weird leaving since my name was in the hat. She encouraged me to stay.
I did and was picked after intermission. The rest is a blur. The topic was "Fathers". It is so easy to talk abiout my Dad so I just let the story flow. I didn't win that night, but one of the Senior Producers of the Moth, Jenifer Hixson, encouraged me to come back. I did. Since then I have won 3 Story Slams, and have started focusing more on my path as a storyteller.
After further investigation I discovered I could purchase video and audio recordings of my Moth stories. I thought I would share with you my first slam winning story. The topic of the night was "Magic". The story I tell is an edited version from an evening length show I wrote that I call "A Boy and His Dolly". The original piece involves dance, music, and a layering of my story with Dolly Parton's life story.
"A Boy and His Dolly" came to me while I was driving from Sturgis, Kentucky to Knoxville, Tennessee. I pulled off at a rest area just over the Tennessee border and wrote the outline for the show in about 45 minutes.
I have performed "A Boy and His Dolly" many different ways and with a variety of musicians. The latest version will be done with the amazing actor, singer and fellow Dollypologist Addie Brownlee. In fact, Addie came up with the term "Dollypologist" and I am proud to be one. I also am honored to share the stage with her for another take on this story. If you are in the Big Apple and want to come see us, here is more information; Birthday Bash!
Here is the story as told at the Moth.
"A Boy and His Dolly"
Hope you enjoy it and remember...
I will always love you.