Academy of Music Theatre and New England Public Radio to bring storytelling to the stage - ACADEMY OF MUSIC

By John Nieb, The Republican intern 
Posted on March 19, 2014 at 4:29 PM, updated March 19, 2014 at 4:30 PM

NORTHAMPTON – The Academy of Music Theatre and New England Public Radio are co-presenting “The Moth Mainstage” and the Valley Voices StorySlam, which consist of live and first-person storytelling on April 5. The event is already sold out.

The Academy booked “The Moth Mainstage” and invited NEPR to participate, as they run “The Moth Radio Hour” regularly on their station.

“We were very excited about these shows. Both ‘The Moth Mainstage’ and our Valley Voices StorySlam sold out quickly,” said Debra J’Anthony, excutive director of the Academy. “We had over 100 entries for our first StorySlam.”

“The Moth Mainstage” storytellers arrive a day ahead of the performance to rehearse their stories with The Moth staff. They will arrive a few hours before the performance for sound check. Valley Voices StorySlam was produced by both the Academy and NEPR.

The Academy auditioned storytellers by listening to the first line of their story recorded by voicemail. The Academy had so many stories that they weren’t able to include all that they wanted.

The Academy invited Andrea Lovett, co-founder of massmouth in Boston to conduct a workshop for the selected storytellers. The local storytellers were amazing and very supportive of each other.

“The Academy decided to bring in the ‘The Moth Mainstage’ to attract a new audience and to share an event that was building momentum,” J’Anthony said. “First person storytelling and storyslam competitions have been growing nationally over the past few years.”

The Academy and NEPR decided to hold their own StorySlam to build a local event, whereby storytellers from the area would have a chance to tell their stories in front of a live audience.

The Academy scheduled the Valley Voices StorySlam with “The Moth Mainstage.” They had been wanting to perform in the area for some time. The Academy and NEPR scheduled the Valley Voices StorySlam to coincide with Northampton’s Arts Night Out.

“I put a call into The Moth Mainstage, expressing an interest in booking them for an event and shared some available dates to consider. The Academy and NEPR approached Hinge to see if they might be interested in hosting our first Valley Voices StorySlam event,” J’Anthony said. “They were quite willing and have invited us back.”

“The Valley Voices StorySlam, which was held at UpBar at Hinge in Northampton, sold out before we had our storytellers lined up,” J’Anthony said.

The Academy plans on offering three more Valley Voices StorySlam events at Hinge, which will be on Sept. 12, Nov.14, and Feb. 13, 2015. They will be holding a “best of”Valley Voices StorySlam at the Academy of Music Theatre on April 11, 2015.

They are currently planning on a return date for “The Moth Mainstage.”