The Hippo


May 29, 2020








The Hatbox Theatre. Courtesy photo.

Tales Told

Where: Hatbox Theatre, 270 Loudon Road, Concord
When: The next is Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. Other dates include Tuesdays, Jan. 10, Feb. 7 and March 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Admission: $16.50

Personal connections
Tales Told in Concord inspired by The Moth

By Kelly Sennott

 About a year ago, Lisa Aquizap tried to bring The Moth to southern New Hampshire. She was a big fan of the national storytelling program and had attended its Boston events at coffee shops and comedy clubs.

But when she reached out to the nonprofit, which is based in New York, she learned there was already an event planned in Portsmouth around the same time. Organizers weren’t enthused by the idea of holding another nearby.
“But the people at The Moth said, ‘Listen. You can go ahead and do something on your own. You can say it was inspired by The Moth, but feel free to take this and run with it,’” Aquizap said via phone last week.
So she did, suggesting her own version at the Hatbox Theatre’s Pitch Night last spring. The result, Tales Told, has become a monthly event in Concord, held (for the most part) on the first Tuesday of the month. The next is Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. The theme is “Home for the Holidays.”
Aquizap, the show’s producer, said Tales Told is a little different from The Moth. For one thing, it’s more intimate. 
“It’s very different from going to a Moth show in Boston, where it’s really a performance. … I’m not a performer. I have no desire to be a performer. The couple I went to in comedy clubs, I felt a little bit disappointed. I didn’t feel as connected to the storytellers. It didn’t feel as authentic,” she said. “Tales Told feels different. Maybe it’s because the Hatbox is such a great little intimate space. … The line between the audience and the storyteller is almost nonexistent.”
Traditionally, organizers of The Moth choose its 10 speakers through a hat draw, but the Hatbox is such a small venue, with just over 80 seats, that typically those who want to present can. Each story is a five-minute soliloquy (ideally memorized beforehand, no notes allowed) of a first-hand experience, adventure or lesson learned with a conflict and resolution following that night’s theme; previous themes include “Firsts” and “Thanks and Giving.” The next in January is “Life or Death.” 
The national event features judging groups. Tales Told will eventually, but Aquizap said she felt it was best to forego that part while getting the program on its feet. 
Thus far, people have talked about first concerts, first loves and family reunions. Some nights have featured uncanny threads linking all the stories. (One contained tales that all randomly related to Bruce Springsteen.) Show emcee Sue Gosselin said some nights moved audience members to tears.
“People connect the stories they hear with their own. It can be very cathartic for people,” Gosselin said via phone. “Sometimes people come in and say, ‘I would never be able to tell a story out loud.’ But people feel safe and included and intimate with one another here, and the people who don’t think they could tell a story at all end up telling the most intimate stories.”
Aquizap has since gotten calls to bring True Tales to other New Hampshire towns, including those in the Monadnock and Seacoast regions.
“It’s such an art form, and we need to revive it, especially given the state of the world right now, and our country. We need to do anything we can to get people to come together, communicate and connect,” Aquizap said. “With social media, we have hundreds of these ‘friends’ on Facebook and Twitter pages. … We don’t sit in front of people and talk to them.”
Venue founder Andrew Pinard said the goal of Hatbox is to provide a home for all different types of theater, experimental, experiential and otherwise; he’ll be offering a whole new variety for Season 2, which will be organized after the next Pitch Night in March.
“It exposes different things to audiences at the Hatbox, things they might not otherwise come to the theater for. It creates a wonderful cross-pollination,” Pinard said. “[With Tales Told], we’re tapping into an audience looking for deep, rich, personal experiences. What’s more personal than getting up and telling a story about your life? It has the opportunity to be very creative and playful and also rich and meaningful for people.” 

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu