‘Let me tell you a story’ – Moth & Butterfly takes wing
By Charlie Mcbride
THE TOWNHOUSE Bar on Spanish Parade hosts the second monthly gathering of the Moth & Butterfly storytelling group on Wednesday February 20. After the rousing success of its January debut, this promises to be a richly entertaining evening.
Moth & Butterfly brings together both storytelling and improvisation. Each night has a unique theme and all storytellers are invited to tell a story fitting that theme. For February 20, the theme is ‘The Longest Road’ with stories provided by the Moth and Butterfly crew, special guests, and the audience themselves.
There will be three types of storytelling on the night: ‘Moth’ style stories must be short, true, thematic, and feature the teller as a character; Improvised stories must be created fresh on the spot – no two are the same; ‘Freefall’ stories are all other stories that fit the theme – including fiction, fairytales, tall tales, and story in a song.
The Moth & Butterfly Crew is made up of professional performers, writers, and storytellers. They were inspired by the transformational nature of improvisation (Butterfly) along with the ‘Moth’ tradition of true storytelling which originated in the USA, and thought that the two combined would make for a very special night.
Over an afternoon chat, founder member Orla McGovern takes up the story (so to speak).
“The idea had its origins in the US and with the poet George Dawes Green,” she tells me. “He came from the South where he was used to sitting around the porch telling stories with his friends.
“There was an analogy of moths coming through the screen door, attracted to the light of the porch so they called their little gang of storytellers The Moths. Green then moved to New York and, missing that sense of community he’d had in the South, he started up a storytelling night called The Moth.
“There would usually be a theme to the night and the idea was that people would come along and tell a true story from their own lives. There have been spin offs from it since, like a Moth Slam for one, but for our one we’ve decided to remove the competitive aspect of a slam while retaining the idea of having true stories.”
The initiative got off to a flying start with its inaugural event last month.
“I was astounded how well the first night went, we had a full house,” McGovern notes. “There was a real diversity of ages among the people who were there and I have noticed at other storytelling events in the past year or so that they seem to be attracting a young audience.
“The night had a mixture of moth stories – autobiographical true stories - and then some improvised stories and we had a guest storyteller from Limerick who had traditional tales and we were delighted with how it all went.
“Each night is hosted by three or four of us who have a professional background in improv or acting or storytelling so we would provide the framework. We also usually have one guest each night. At next week’s event it will be Catherine Brophy who’s a published author and also a great storyteller.”
McGovern emphasises that this is a night for oral storytelling, so no reading or notes allowed.
“There is a different energy between reading or reciting a scripted monologue and telling a story,” she observes. “Some storytelling events do permit people to read out stories they have written but we don’t as we want to celebrate the oral tradition.”
Moth & Butterfly takes place upstairs at the Townhouse Bar next Wednesday. Doors open at 8pm and admission is by donation (€5 suggested).