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Monday, May 20, 2024

A semester without Moth-Up

Those who enjoy the monthly reveal of the Middlebury Moth-Up theme on their way into Proctor Dining Hall will notice that this semester, the bulletin board lacks its typical vibrant posters highlighting creative storytelling themes, like “Fluke,” “Lost and Found” and “Meta.” This beloved storytelling event, inspired by The Moth storytelling collective of a similar name, has disappeared from the arts scene on campus. As a tried and true Middlebury classic, many have been left wondering: Where did it go?  

According to Moth-Up producer Rach Peck ’25, the show's sudden stop can be attributed to a perfect storm of producers going abroad, graduating — the organization’s longtime president, Elissa Asch ’22.5, graduated this past February — and remaining producers’ inability to take on a more significant time commitment with the organization. 

“The sort of core crew went down to two people and two others who are willing to help out here and there,” Peck explained. “The standard Moth-Up show involves four or five storytellers, who each meet with a producer a couple of times a week leading up to the show for anywhere from a month to three weeks beforehand.” 

“We need, really, four producers who can commit to that, and we only have two, and also to do event requests and set up the event and advertising,” Peck continued.

Keziah Wilde ’24, an on-campus producer who has expressed continued interest in producing, but not taking on the time commitment of a leadership position, echoed this sentiment. 

“It takes maybe three or four people who are interested. And so we don’t have the numbers,” Wilde said. 

Peck and Wilde shared similar sentiments on what the show adds to the arts scene on campus. “I think that it just offers people the opportunity to tell a story that’s meaningful to them, to be involved in a one-time performance that’s low stakes and authentic,” Peck said.

Peck had seemingly unlimited praise for the event. “I think it’s also really accessible for people from any realm of the school…who [have] a story that feels important to them that they want to tell,” Peck said. “I think that it’s just, it’s a wonderful little space and I think it really well emulates the format that it was inspired by,” they enthused. 

Wilde also noted the event’s ability to attract participants with a wide range of storytelling experience. “What’s nice is when people who don’t usually do any other performance come and do a story, because we’ll sometimes get random people who fill out the form, like people who don’t have any history in theater, performing or anything, but are interested in telling one story one time, and so I think that’s really cool.”

For Grace Sokolow ’24.5, the club served just the purpose that Peck and Wilde emphasize. A life-long lover of The Moth podcast, she says she was first inspired to tell a story at Middlebury Moth-Up after seeing Wilde, her good friend, perform at an event.

Now, Sokolow is a veteran storyteller, having performed at two Middlebury Moth-Ups, two of The Moth’s StorySLAM events in Seattle and Middlebury’s 10th annual Cocoon, which follows Moth-Up’s format but draws from more storytellers and a larger audience. 

She was sad to hear that the event has been paused but understood the significant time commitment producers make to put on the show each month. 

Despite the organization’s dormancy thus far this semester, Peck said that the group is planning a video project for the upcoming Nocturne Arts Festival on April 29. 

According to Peck, the theme of the video project is “New Perspective,” and it will include a variety of stories solicited from people who have expressed interest in Moth-Up. Eventually, all of the stories will be put together into a short film, projected to play on a loop on the wall of the Chapel facing Stewart Hall.  

Peck is confident that Moth-Up will come back. “It’s gone into slight hibernation. We’re still around,” Peck said.

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