BRATTLEBORO -- A happy irony of our Tweet-happy, text-crazy, Facebook-status-updating world is that it has placed a premium on authentic, thoughtful communication.
Concurrent with our preference for communicating on our devices with our thumbs has come a resurgence in the old art of storytelling and a rise in outlets for that art via "The Moth," "This American Life," podcasts, Story Slams and more.
And a recently formed area group, The Hatch, has caught the wave, bringing renowned storytellers to Brattleboro to raise money for good causes.
The Hatch made its debut last spring with a storytelling event that raised more than $27,000 for the Latchis Theatre. This Thursday, The Hatch is back at it with its second Storytellers on a Mission event, featuring seven stars of the storytelling world, telling hilarious stories to raise money for the New England Youth Theatre. The event begins at 7 p.m., at the Latchis Theatre.
"It's a really strong group of storytellers. These are some of the best storytellers in the country," said Rich Korson, a Putney resident and former Daily Show and Comedy Central executive, who helped develop the Colbert Report for Jon Stewart's production company and is now part of The Hatch. "We think we found the right balance. We really wanted to bring comedy into the mix. Humorous storytelling really connects with a lot of people."
The evening's storytellers feature Brian Babylon, Ophira Eisenberg, Dave Hill, SRSLY, Adam Wade and host Tom Shillue, all of whom have performed on critically-acclaimed stages and have mastered the art of connecting with people through telling stories.
"I think storytelling is human. I think all this other stuff is getting away from who we are," said Hill, a comedian, writer and musician who has appeared on HBO, Cinemax, FUSE, Comedy Central and BBC America, frequently contributes to NPR's "This American Life" and recently published his first book, "Tasteful Nudes." "I think it's growing because people have always been attracted to it. ... Storytelling is one of the oldest forms of entertainment, certainly older than stand-up or Tweeting."
"I think it's authentic. There are so few authentic moments anymore," added Korson. "Stand-up comedy feels so processed. ... Storytelling is another way to connect with human experience."
In addition to Hill, Thursday's lineup includes:
* Brian Babylon is a fixture in his Chicago's rich comedy community and currently hosts and produces The Morning AMP radio show on Vocalo 89.5 FM. He is one of the newest additions to the NPR weekly news quiz show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" and hosts The Moth Story Slam in Chicago.
* Ophira Eisenberg is a comedian, writer and host of NPR's weekly trivia comedy show, "Ask Me Another." Her debut memoir, "Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy" was recently optioned by Zucker Productions for a feature film. She is also a regular host and teller with The Moth.
* SRSLY is Alexandra Fiber and Danielle Gibson: two actors, writers, producers and friends who met at New York University. SRSLY created two seasonally-themed three-part video series for Glamour.com -- "SRSLY, It's Fashion Week," and "SRSLY, It's the Holidays." To date, SRSLY has written, produced and starred in more than 30 digital shorts.
* Returning for his second Hatch event, Adam Wade has been performing in New York City for the past 10 years. A graduate of Keene State College, he is an 18-time StorySLAM Champion at The Moth. Wade has been featured on both The Moth Radio Hour and The Moth Podcast, and with the Upright Citizens Brigade.
"He was up here last time and crushed it," said Korson.
* The evening's host is Tom Shillue, who has appeared on his own Comedy Central Special, on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Last Comic Standing and in the feature film "Mystery Team." His storytelling show "Funny Story" has been featured on Sirius XM Radio and currently runs as a live, monthly show at the Brooklyn Brewery. Shillue is a regular performer on The Moth's Mainstage and Risk!
Thursday's Storytellers on a Mission event will benefit the New England Youth Theatre. NEYT currently has a fundraising campaign working toward paying off the mortgage on its property in Brattleboro. Money raised from Storytellers on a Mission will be matched by an anonymous donor.
Tickets to Storytellers on a Mission are $60 front orchestra, $40 rear orchestra, $25 balcony and can be purchased at NEYT.org. This is an adult-oriented show.
Vermont Public Radio will broadcast an edited version of the program at a later date, with introductions and commentary from The Hatch's Tom Bodett, local resident and regular contributor to National Public Radio's satirical news quiz show, "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me."
To connect to Hatch events, visit HatchVT.org.