'Scar Tissue': Stories from the heart

PUTNEY — In the media these days it is difficult sorting fact from fiction so the genuineness of hearing a story told live is a refreshing change. Listening to a person directly in front of you tell his or her story, it's clear it is real and hasn't been hacked. Four Moth storytellers — and friends — Tom Bodette, Peter Agurero, Adam Wade, and Ophira Eisenberg, are bringing their true stories of the resilience of the human body and heart to Next Stage for "Scar Tissue," an evening with a little laughing, a little crying. Agurero, who knows everybody in the Moth world, introduced Bodette to Wade and Einstein. through "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me!" to became fast friends. Each teller will have a showcase story, plus smaller incidentals to keep the show at a reasonable length of about 90 minutes.

Bodette, of NPR's "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" and veteran storyteller was hooked after his first experience at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington in what he described as, "The most intense onstage experience with an audience. It became my true drug." Bodette now participates regularly in Moth storytelling events.

Moth events adhere to a set format in which a host introduces the tellers as they come on stage one by one, the host providing the cohesion between thematic stories. The stories are true, told with no notes, not memorized but from memory. According to Bodette, there is a simple beauty in Moth stories that works because each story stands on its own legs. "By the time you go on stage the stories are so well worked we aren't tempted to embellish, because then you have broken that spell."

"Scar Tissue" will be slightly different in that all four storytellers will be on stage while the spotlight shines on one at a time, each story followed by a discussion among themselves and answering questions from the audience. Bodette, who will be presenting a new story for Scar Tissue said, "I like the interaction with the audience. I am comfortable with that," adding that it brings an element of humanity.

This will be Agurero's third time at Next Stage, known for "Daddy Issues," and as a Moth host. He is bringing all new material about scars in a narrative not beholden to the Moth format. He said, "We all experience a gamut of emotional and physical scars, it is part of life, getting hurt and getting back up. We all have stories. Sometimes these scars are a reminder you want to forget about, or just act as a reminder." His stories are about human nature, funny and truthful, noting it is human nature to find comedy in a sad situation.

Eisenberg, of NPR's "Ask Me Another," a standup comedienne, and a Moth host, has been to Next Stage before with Agurero. Eisenberg developed the idea for Scar Tissue with Agurero after working on her own scar stories, feeling the theme meant something to everyone. They had an invitation to come back to Next Stage, then Bodette called and said he would love to be part of it also, harboring scars of his own. Wade was invited, and it worked out that all four who had the creative impulse to join in could fit it in their schedules. Eisenberg, whose story has not been heard before, said they don't often get the opportunity to work together. She said, "The storytelling community is a tight one that creates an instant intimacy for becoming friends quickly. I love working with these veterans of first-person narrative. When we get together to tell these stories it creates a connection — that's what it is all about — connection."

Wade, of The Moth Radio Hour, The New Yorker Magazine, and host of two nightly shows in NYC, is making his debut at Next Stage. His stories are of everyday types of things that happen to all of us, identifiable moments everyone can relate to. He has been friends with Ophira for 15 years, and Agurero for 10 and is, "Excited to spend my time with them," saying that they genuinely like each other, and enjoy each other's company. A record-holding 20-time winner of The Moth's StorySlam, Wade admitted that it is sometimes difficult to get on stage, but with good friends it is not work, it is the best of both worlds by being able to connect with friends and with the audience.

The warmth of the friendship among these storytellers is sure to project onto the audience, and the honesty of the stories will not send everyone scurrying to Snopes to check its validity. Bodette said, "There is a movement of getting back to basics because we still need this."

Now residing in Hoboken, N.J., Wade had attended New Hampshire's Keene State College and loves any opportunity to return to the area. He said, "Someone please bring me a slice of pizza from Athens Pizza from Main Street, the best pizza from Keene."

These four storytelling stars will come together for one night of stories at Next Stage, 15 Kimball Hill, Putney on March 9 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $15, available at nextstagearts.org and at the door. For more information, visit nextstagearts.org.

Cicely M. Eastman may be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 261


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