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OUT LOUD! Event: Bellefonte Moth Flutters Back into the Spotlight


133 North Allegheny Street Bellefonte, Pa 16823

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By Serge Bielanko

Bellefonte Moth Night is coming back to town for another night of top-notch storytelling. If you appreciate the timeless quality of a well-told yarn- and honestly; who doesn't?... then you should absolutely show up to the Bellefonte Art Museum, 133 North Allegheny Street, Friday evening, February 7th. Based on the wildly popular live event radio show called The Moth, this version is a localized take on one of the most ancient art forms known to man, one in which your fellow Centre Countians, the very people who stand right in front of you at Sheetz buying their Mountain Dews and tacos and milk, prove that they can really captivate a crowd with words.

Which is kind of a really beautiful thing when you consider it.

The theme this time around is pretty spectacular too. When the call goes out for people to hone their true 'It-Happened-to-Me' stories, you know that what is going to unfold in that room that night is more than likely going to be both memorable and wonderful at the same time.

Part of Bellefonte Historic and Cultural Association's annual Out Loud! original reading series, The Bellefonte Moth has a new host this time around. Teresa Hamilton is an Assistant Teaching Professor of English at Penn State who happens to specialize in teaching Rhetoric, amongst other things. That means she likely has a slew of experience in public writing and speaking.

She's also a veteran of quite a few State of the Story events in State College.


I mean, c'mon, people. Could a Moth Night host even come anymore qualified than that? I doubt it.

So I asked the new host what she thinks it might be about quality storytelling in a live space with a real crowd that other forms of entertainment fall short of.

"I think the actual “immediate raw and realness” with the crowd is what tv and film can’t match," Hamilton says. "You engage an audience and read their “condition” or facial expression. They may nod or look confused and some tellers address that facial assessment in that moment. I think Tellers have their story in mind, that they’re familiar with, because it happened to them, it’s their story. They may have even rehearsed the story. But in front of that audience, you and that microphone, the story may take a different direction. For example, you have the story, you see the audience and may have to adjust the story if minors are present. Or depending on the audience’s reactions, you may have to explain certain parts more, while still maintaining cohesion and flow."

Which is probably a lot tricker than it sounds... or looks, for that matter. Nerves get jangled, words get garbled, and the next thing you know, even the best storytellers are out there on a risky limb. They're naked in a sense: for the sake of the story. But that hasn't seemed to stop anyone across the history of civilization and why should it? We are storytellers by nature, the one species on Earth (that we know of!) who sits down to dinner and relives what happened to us in the Walmart parking lot earlier that day.

Or just how truly insane that thing your co-worker did at the lunch meeting this afternoon.

Or, perhaps best of all, how you went up to that 5th grade bully at recess this morning and finally told him that you were done putting up with his crap. Right before he picked you up and gave you a bear hug and whispered in your ear, "I'm sorry! I'm so sad inside these days!"

Reliving our lives by sharing stories, fact or fiction, is one of the most vital ways we, as a species, remain feeling connected to one another. It just is. Have you ever heard of griots before? Me neither. But Hamilton knows a lot about them and they're a perfect example of the vitality of people sharing their stories across time, I think.

"Griots originated in West Africa and were the people who “kept” and told the stories of the people and/or community," she explains. "The traveling griots performed at special occasions and passed on the history and often valuable morals or lessons were embedded in the stories. Griots are remarkable because they preserve the history. Learning the history (the actual people, the events, what they stood for and believed) tend to shape families and communities."

For Teresa Hamilton, it was a pretty special family member who started her off on that exact quest many years ago.

"My grandmother told our family’s history of life in the deep south, in Mississippi and Arkansas, " she reflects  "She shared the history beyond the books. She died about 5 years ago at age 102, so you can imagine the stories she shared. And, I lived next door to her, so my siblings and I were with her all the time. It seems my mother picked up where grandma left off. The stories are also a way of captivating the listener and making it easier to share and pass the stories on. The stories live forever. My mother and even my father share stories with the grandchildren (my nieces and nephews) and it helps them appreciate and understand history they learn and read in school."

That's the bottom line, isn't it?!

The stories live forever.

Don't miss this one.


Out Loud! Presents: Bellefonte Moth 'True and It-Happened-To-You' stories hosted by Teresa Hamilton.
Friday, Feb. 7th at 7:30pm.
Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County, 133 N. Allegheny Street
FREE  Event presented by: Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association



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