Want to tell a good story? Come here!


Good stories have their magic. Personal stories move us in books, movies, on the radio, and lately YouTube, Facebook and other platforms. But the ones that involve climbing on stage, facing an audience, and sharing an affecting moment has built a groundswell fan momentum thanks to The Moth, a non-profit group dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. They’re celebrating 25 years.

Find out how to tell a good story at the Mama Farm B & B stage, July 9, at 6 p.m. The Moth senior directors and co-authors of How to Tell A Story: The Essential Guide to Memorable Storytelling from The Moth, Jenifer Hixon and Kate Tellers, will guide you through. Mama Farm executive director Elettra Wiedemann is hosting the event that includes dinner with Bellport native chef Francis Derby.

Besides the new B & B, Wiedemann is known for the family friendly events offered. But what got her to The Moth folks?
“About 12 years ago I attended a Moth StorySlam in New York City at a huge event space in Chinatown,” she said. “One was an astronaut, his story was terrifying and enthralling, another was abandoned by a scuba ship for a day and the thoughts that went through his head in the water and the scary creatures he encountered, and there was one by a young hair stylist who found herself giving David Bowie his iconic haircut.”

As Wiedemann said, there’s a simplicity to the act. “There’s no music, it’s pure concentration. I started listening to The Moth Radio after that and always wanted them here.”

Tellers and Hixon spoke to the Advance about the process and the lure.
What’s the biggest stymie for people?

“I would say that people don’t believe they have a story to tell or that it’s not important,” Tellers said. “Stories make us vulnerable and that’s scary.”
“And someone might be okay to tell their story at the dinner table but not on stage because they feel it’s more formal,” Hixon added.
(Both women have told their stories on stage. Catch Tellers relating “A Car of One’s Own,” and Hixon’s “Where There’s Smoke” on YouTube.)

Their book is a collective collaboration that also includes Meg Bowles, Catherine Burns and Sarah Austin Jenness. What prompted it?
“People share their lives on stage and we spent many years refining how we do that,” answered Tellers. “At 25 years we wanted a record, so putting it in book form, it’s a way to share.”

Hixon said there’s a language, phrases, syndromes that come up again and again in stories.
“Also, we wanted to inspire more people,” she said. “We’re always looking for people to share their stories.”

In the book, astronaut Mike Massimino, talks about the time he broke the Hubble Telescope in his story “A View of the Earth.” He accidently stripped the screw while he was floating in space, tethered to the shuttle. He redeemed himself; but before that he thought `Gabby and Daniel’s dad broke the Hubble Space Telescope.’
“So we’re all thinking, `oh my God, he almost lost it,’ but his thought was `this will be the legacy my kids will know and the disappointment to his children.’ It’s so humanizing,” Hixson said.

The storytellers do stay in touch. “People are lifers,” Hixson admitted. “They continue to pitch.
Massimino has told stories several times and many are repeat storytellers or they stay friends.
It becomes a family. We rehearse together and then there’s the show.”
Not all the venues are large, but there have been whoppers. Hixson mentioned the Sydney Opera House with 6,000 in the audience; Tellers added the summer stage at Central Park with 3,000 on the lawn, Lincoln Center with 3,850 people, and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon at 2,776.

As for the evening’s rollout, Wiedemann said the gates open at 6 p.m. “Our chef will be preparing an incredible dinner, slow roasted pork shoulder or roasted eggplant for vegetarians, with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and we’ll do ground tours.”
You haven’t lived until you come to Mama Farm in Brookhaven off South Country Road. An organic CSA, the animal kingdom includes heritage chickens, turkeys, and bees. A Lincoln sheep, Frida Kahlo, was grazing near Wiedemann during the interview, along with her friends in the field. It was pointed out that a male turkey was loitering around the outside of the cage where the girl turkeys resided. Did he get out?

Isabella Rossellini, who established the farm in 2013 and is Wiedemann’s mother, was on the grounds. She commented it was a wild turkey who wanted to mate with the others and get food. Smart boy.
“Why stay out in the wild when there’s a food concierge team,” joked Wiedemann.
The “Learn to Tell Your Story with the Moth” presentation will take place after dinner at 7:30 p.m. with a Moth storyteller. “Then The Moth team will go on stage and play back how the story was constructed,” Wiedemann said.
For more information and tickets, go online at www.mamafarmus.com


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