The Power of Stories: The Moth at Princeton

by Andrea La Bella

On November 22, 2019, members of Princeton Writes’ Writing Space group gathered at the McCarter Theater to enjoy the Princeton Public library production of The Moth Mainstage: Lost and Found: The Moth in Princeton. In the lead up to this event, the McCarter Theater and the Princeton Public Library co-sponsored the Story Lounge, hosted by the No Dominion Theater Company. Community members were invited to tell a story, and two of the Princeton Writes Writing Space group, Andrea La Bella and Jeanne Jackson DeVoe, were chosen to share their personal tales of fear and loss.

The curated Moth event on November 22 featured five storytellers, including the Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames, Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University and Princeton alumnus Jonathan Ames ’87 as host. Their varied and expansive stories, encompassing the theme of lost and found, were astonishing in their openness and humility. The audience was enraptured from the start.

Rev. Dr. Thames inspired us with her story of transformation via a public haircut and an impossible hike, culminating in a basket of her dreadlocks being hurled into the Pacific Ocean.

Ruby Cooper’s hilarious, nail-biting escapades of assisting her disabled son in losing his virginity over Christmas Holiday at a legal brothel in Carson City Nevada, complete with her mother cooking Christmas dinner, was worthy of a Netflix series.

Ray Christian’s lyrical story of redemption from a life of violence brought about by a condition called pseudobulbar affect (PBA) resulting from a stroke, captured the gratitude and softness of a man drained of violence and replaced with a profound sensitivity to all things living,  More specifically, he is now known to fist-bump squirrels on a TV commercial that leave him weeping with joy.

Joanne Solomon told a richly textured story of losing her mother and a pregnancy, then finding a vanishing twin, whom she brought to term and then finding the love she thought was lost to her forever. It was a moving tribute to love, family and a fit of laughter that brought it all home.

Morgan Givens’ journey as a mixed-race child coming to terms with racism, and his beloved grandmother keeping an unlimited supply of small pink cars to keep her grandson entertained and his father frustrated, provided a thought-provoking glimpse into family dynamics and how far a father will go to protect his son from an ugly truth.

Each storyteller’s vulnerability captivated, enlightened, and entertained the audience in true Moth form. It was a magical time in Princeton.