Mara Wilson is afraid.
The former child star, best known for her roles as the cute kid in “Matilda” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” has a tendency to obsess or panic over problems in her life. Wilson, now 26, does not do much acting anymore, but she has taken those anxieties and turned them into fodder for her budding career as a writer and live storyteller.
Now, Wilson is debuting a storytelling night entirely devoted to what scares her. On Jan. 19, she and other performers will reveal their fears in “What Are you Afraid Of?” at Union Hall.
“I thought, I’m afraid of so many things, I swear, I could fill a whole show just talking about what scares me,” said Wilson.
Wilson has already made a name for herself at storytelling shows around the city, contributing to “Tell It: Brooklyn,” “My High School Boyfriend Was Gay” at Upright Citizens Brigade, “RISK!” at the People’s Improv Theater, and “The Jukebox Show” at Union Hall, among others. Between these and the many, many other storytelling nights taking place around New York on any given night of the week, the city is not exactly lacking for regular events where people share personal narratives on stage. But Wilson said the focus of her show is what sets it apart.
“As far as I know, there is no New York show solely about being afraid, overcoming one’s fears, and perhaps most importantly, laughing at one’s fears,” she said. “It takes the power away from them — you can read that both in books on anxiety and in ‘Harry Potter.’”
At the Union Hall show, Wilson will be joined by friends and comedians Morgan Evans, Susan Kent, and Anna Drezen. As host, Wilson plans on asking her guests about their fears and talking about her own — such as the time she thought she had salmonella because she ate raw cookie dough — and then bringing in an expert on the subject to see if the fear is justified.
“It will be both funny and informative — we’ll talk about our fears, then assuage our fears, then laugh at them,” said Wilson, who said she hopes the night will be helpful for both the performers and the audience. “Maybe they’ll learn they’re not alone in what they’re afraid of.”
“What Are You Afraid Of?” at Union Hall [702 Union St. near Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 638–4400, www.unionhallny.com], Jan. 19 at 8 pm. $10 at the door, $7 in advance.