The Cast and Crew
written and performed by Micaela Blei
directed by Catherine McCarthy
lighting design: Daryl Embry
board operator: Eleni Giannopoulos
choreographer: Sam Hacker
FringeNYC venue director: Kimberly Roth
FringeNYC technical director: Andrew Trent
See the complete, wonderful Fringe staff listed here
My second time ever getting onstage at The Moth, I told the story of Laszlo and the Wolf. Besides kind of changing the course of my life and career, that story also surprised me with how FUN it was to tell. I was missing teaching already (I'd been out of the classroom for about 3 months). And when I told these stories, grownups felt a little like third graders. So telling stories about third grade has been a way to remember the joyful stuff (and hard stuff) and to reflect on my teacher identity.
And teachers have secret identities. A few years ago I went to coffee with a former student, Cora, who was now a senior in high school. She brought a "third grade memory box" with her to coffee. In the box was a doll labelled "Sister Goddess Cora." She had no idea why we'd called each other Sister Goddess when she was 8-- she told me that she and Vienna STILL call each other Sister Goddess. The seed of an idea for "Secret Life" was born after that coffee date. I realized: kids know so little about their teachers! And teachers have SO MUCH going on!
My stories usually start getting better once I'm actually TELLING them. You can guess that this requires kind and critical listeners. The stories that have become “Secret Life” have been shaped with so many friends, directors, audiences, colleagues, student SLAM teams I coached, and most of all with Catherine. She is an empathy ninja, a tireless editor, and a wonderful friend-- a killer combination in a director. She asks the same questions I do: How do you find, and tell, an emotional truth within a satisfying narrative? How do you choose the details that paint a picture quickly, without being reductionist or creating a caricature?
So this is a solo show, but I don’t feel alone doing it at all. I feel very lucky to be working this hard on something this fun, and to have such smart and supportive people around me. Thank you one million times for being here: this simply would not happen without you.
I met Micaela at a Moth StorySLAM four years ago, and I immediately wanted her to a) tell more stories and b) be my friend. Since then she's done both, and along the way I've acted as the unofficial director of many of her SLAM stories. So, much of this show comes from material that we've worked on in the 5-minute form; however, weaving these stories together into a long-form show was a new experience entirely. We wanted to stay true to Micaela's improvisational storytelling style while recognizing the need for a clear structure to pull the whole narrative together. So, in order to develop the "script," Micaela would tell me a version out loud and then we'd transcribe it. We would then rework the transcription bit by bit, sometimes in writing but mostly out loud. So the show found its shape in the act of telling, not writing.
The fascinating thing about creating a show out of someone's real life is that the crafting process is actually an attempt to get ever-closer to the truth within the stories we tell ourselves. So the more we unearthed the emotional core of each chapter, the more the unifying themes began to reveal themselves. To be part of this process- part archeologist, part architect, but mostly a listening ear- has been an absolute joy.
About the Team
Micaela and Catherine would like to thank:
The Blei and Blei-Gantz family, The McCarthy family, Shahab Nassirpour, Sarah Haberman, Catherine Burns, Callie Thuma, Phoebe Wang, Anna Olujimi, Jenelle Pifer, Casey Donahue, Jemma Rose Brown, Maggie Cino, Meg Bowles, Gina Voskov, the Moth Staff, David Malbin, Julian Goldhagen, Ms. Blei’s third grade students 2001-2010, the amazing Moth Education storytellers and alums, Ray, Le Pain Quotidien
AND A HUGE THANK YOU TO ELENA HOLY, RON LASKO AND THE INCREDIBLE FRINGENYC TEAM!
THANK YOU FOR COMING TO