Listening

I have always loved stories. When I was a child, I used to sit at the dinner table late into the evening eavesdropping to my parents and their friends talk. I would listen to the same book on tape over and over again. I loved the sound of narration, how it could enrich words. When I read printed books, I would say the words out loud, relishing the way they filled my mouth and tripped over my tongue. I still do that.

Now, I channel my love for stories by hosting and producing the Middlebury Moth, which is a live storytelling hour. About twice a month, my fellow producers and I find five or six people who want to tell stories. Then, a crowd of listeners join us, and we all meet in the Gamut Room, which is a student-run performance space. Storytellers speak about anything and everything from their bad dates, to their parents, to their failures. Speakers must follow only two rules: they can’t use notes and their stories must be true.

We love using the Gamut Room, but it can get a little crowded. So, this year and last year, we produced an event we call “Cocoon” in the Mahaney Center for the Arts (MCA). The event takes place in the Concert Hall, which seats almost four hundred people and uses professional-grade sound and lighting systems. Plus, it’s beautiful! Liza Sacheli, who is the Director of the MCA, worked directly with us to put on the show. I felt very lucky to have the opportunity to use such a wonderful space and work with such an amazing, talented person.

The event itself occurred on Friday, October 24. Students, parents, and community members packed the Concert Hall, filling every seat. A guitarist played music as people filed in, the lights went down, and the show began. Six different people told stories, including an actor, a logger, an alumnus, a student, and a dance professor. They spoke about everything from their fathers to their high school shenanigans, and everything in between. Their voices filled the Hall, comingling with the sound of laughter and tears. After the show ended, the audience moved to a reception to eat dessert, drink apple cider, and talk. Everyone had a different favorite tale, but I truly loved them all. More than any individual story, I loved the listening.

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