The Moth experience is formed by unique student stories

Mackenzie Clark

Editor in Chief

The first time I attended The Moth, I felt like I had stumbled upon a secret. I walked into the dark space of Douglass basement to find the couches pushed together as an attempt to create a sense of intimacy in the cold and open room. There were no microphones and no equipment. The space was only filled with storytellers and people who were there to listen. Without the crowds and the large production of Covers, it was immediately apparent that this was a different kind of Goliard event that prioritized community and inspired me to return the following month to stand up and tell my own story.

The Moth is an open-mic storytelling event hosted by The Goliard. There are only a few simple rules: participants are given a theme and tell a true, unrehearsed story from their life based on their own interpretation of the theme. The stories can be funny, sad, strange or anything in between, and the events are open to all students, whether they want to tell a story or just come and listen. For the past few years, The Moth has been coordinated by Megan Murphy ’19 and Dylan Reynolds ’19, two poetry and prose editors for The Goliard.

Nowadays, The Moth is held about once a month in Old Main, where the cozy atmosphere lends itself to the intimate-but-casual feel of the event.

“For us, the most important thing is that we cultivate a nice environment where people can feel safe and also eager to share their stories,” said Reynolds. “I think The Moth is a space where people can bring their authentic selves every single time.”

The Moth borrows its name from the popular storytelling podcast to maintain a sense of familiarity with the event, but the concept has been repurposed for the Wooster community to provide a different kind of open-mic event.

“The biggest difference for me is that we don’t allow any preparation,” explained Reynolds. “There’s something almost more authentic about telling a story in the moment and telling the story to yourself for the first time as you’re telling it to other people.”

Murphy also emphasized the event is not your typical open-mic. “The Moth is a safe space both content-wise and performance-wise,” she said. “It feels less like a performance and more like a conversation.”

“People are working through their stories as they’re telling them and people get very vulnerable,” added Reynolds. “That’s the scariest and coolest part of what we do because you don’t know what you’re going to say. You can discover something about your story that you didn’t realize before you began telling it.”

Each month, Murphy and Reynolds select a theme for the event which is typically one word that brings a personal story to mind right away. The themes are always open to interpretation and meant to act as sparks of inspiration.

“Our most successful theme that really surprised us was ‘Hair,’” said Reynolds. “Everybody has a story about their hair. But that night got really brutal. There were great stories, hilarious stories, but also really heartbreaking stories. People can make a story out of anything.”

Two new coordinators for The Moth will take over in the fall: Alex Doone ’21 and Eliza Letteney ’21. Both Doone and Letteney share a similar perspective on the role that this event plays within the campus community.

“By providing a casual event to gather students, The Moth exemplifies Wooster students’ commitment to art, literature and performance,” explained Doone. “Everyone is welcome. There’s no pressure to speak, so you can come to listen for some or all of the speakers. Chances are you may know someone there, but if you don’t, you’ll certainly know some of your peers better after listening to their stories.”

“We all have stories that are worth telling,” said Letteney. “Telling stories brings us all together and reaffirms our humanity. When I was new to campus, it made me feel seen to share a piece of myself with strangers. Now that I know some more people, I still see it as an opportunity to open myself up and bond with others about our shared experiences. It’s so cool to hear the wackiest stories from people’s lives.”

Although the event prioritizes an intimate sense of community, the event is never exclusive and always welcomes newcomers.

“It becomes a safe space because of the community of people who are there and because everyone can just spontaneously stand up and tell their story,” said Murphy. “We don’t have the structure of a traditional open-mic. You just stand up and tell your story.”

“You have a story to tell,” said Reynolds. “Some of the most surprising stories come from the people who you wouldn’t expect to be there telling a story. It’s also a comfortable place to work on public speaking.”

Murphy emphasized that although people tend to associate this kind of event with the humanities, it’s open to the entire community. “I think sometimes ‘open mic’ has an elite sort of literary connotation …” she said.

“But we don’t even have a microphone,” added Reynolds.

If you’re interested in telling your story, or even just coming to listen, there is something for everyone to learn at The Moth. Look out for their announcement of their next event on The Goliard’s Facebook page.

(Photo by Margy Adams)

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