The Ties That Bind: The Moth in Westport
Exclusive Q&A with Westport Storytellers
Jane Green and Dan Woog
Jane Green, the New York Times best-selling author, and Dan Woog, writer and founder of the very popular "06880" blog, tell us how they got involved with The Moth and give us their insiders' perspectives.
How did you get involved with The Moth and cast as one of the five featured storytellers in the live show?
JANE: I started working on bringing The Moth to Westport a couple of years ago, after I told a story for them in New York and Boston. I instantly recognized that Westport would be the perfect audience for The Moth Mainstage, and that it would be incredibly special to bring such a well-loved show to our town for one night.
DAN: The invitation came completely out of the blue. Jane Green, the great writer and Westporter extraordinaire, knows me through my “06880” blog. She thought I’d be a good fit. I was honored (I’m a huge Moth fan) and quickly said yes.
What has the process been like for you?
JANE: I was asked to tell an original story this time. As it happened, I had been telling friends about a recent experience that seemed to be a perfect story for The Moth. I have worked with director Meg Bowles at The Moth before, and I trust her editorial skills completely. I knew she would tell me if the story wasn’t right. Happily, I struck lucky the first time.
DAN: I’ve had a couple of months to prepare. I’m a storyteller by profession but always in writing, not on stage. I thought about some of my favorite stories and told one to Meg Bowles, our amazing director. She’s worked closely with me through the process, helping me refine my story and tell it the “Moth” way, yet keep it all mine.
Have you ever performed live on stage, or is this completely new territory for you?
JANE: Not new territory!
DAN: Sure, I’ve performed on stage. I was the grandfather in a 6th grade play about Hawaii. I’m a pro!
What kind of coaching have you received from The Moth?
JANE: Everyone at The Moth knows exactly what will work for its audience and how to structure a story for maximum impact. I have rehearsed with other storytellers for my prior shows, but this time around, I’m in Morocco until the night before the event, so sadly, I won’t be able to do that.
DAN: I’ve worked only with the director, Meg. All I know of the other storytellers is what I’ve read. They sound like a very intriguing (and cool) bunch.
Knowing you both are Westport residents, did you know each other before participating in the show?
JANE: I have known of Dan for years, his blog being the first place I go to find out about local happenings. I met him a few years ago, and now consider him a friend, even though I only run into him by chance, and not nearly as often as I would like.
DAN: I’ve known Jane for years because of her writing and her many community activities. I met her for the first time a couple of years ago at a Connecticut writers’ event. I’m a fanboy.
Since you are both accomplished writers and storytellers, what has this unique experience taught you about the craft of storytelling?
JANE: Letting the energy of the audience feed you is crucial to public storytelling, and being a little flexible. Not rushing, allowing the waves of laughter to settle down (should they come at all), and relaxing when you know it’s going well. I have spoken publicly thousands of times, but my voice is still a bit wobbly when I first step on stage.
DAN: I’ve learned that there’s a big difference between writing a story and telling it in front of an audience. The words, images, rhythms — it’s all different. So there’s more than one way to tell a story — and now, I know two of them.
Jane and Dan share their post-show reactions.
Was The Moth experience everything you thought it would be?
JANE: It was nerve-racking! I’m so used to public speaking but not on my home turf. I was much more nervous!
DAN: For me, as the only storyteller on stage Friday who had never before appeared with The Moth, it was an exciting, arduous, and ultimately, empowering process. But the true magic for me, as a Westporter, was being up on that magical stage. I’ve spent decades in the Playhouse audience, but this was my first time entertaining one. It was a true bucket list experience and amazingly fun.