Silver-tongued: Seniors create stories from life experience

The Brooklyn Paper
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They have stories a lifetime in the making.

A group of senior storytellers have crafted their life experience into captivating stories with the help of professionals from the Moth, the city’s famed storytelling enclave, and will share the results at the Prospect Hill Senior Services Center on June 17.

Seniors in the program say that sharing their stories has been eye-opening.

“You meet a person and you don’t know what experiences they’ve had,” said storyteller Beatrice Christian. “Then they tell you and you say, ‘Wow.’”

Christian will tell the story of a chance meeting with the man who would later become her husband. Other stories on the docket recount a mother-son road trip to visit ill relatives in California and seeing the skyscrapers of Manhattan for the first time at the age of 15.

The seniors developed their stories at weekly meetings over the past six months, with visiting artists offering tips on storytelling structure. The artist-in-residence at the center said that helping the seniors express themselves has been hugely rewarding.

“The magic of it is when you start asking questions about experiences in their lives,” said Cyndi Freeman, a performer who has taught storytelling with a Moth community program for five years. “Stories will pop up that there usually isn’t room to share.”

The storytellers are thrilled to finally share their tales with an audience, and say that listeners will be enriched by what they hear.

“They can expect some exciting stories about how people open their hearts up to other people, and how people went out of their way to make someone else’s life happy,” said Christian.

Sharing stories with each other has also been a bonding experience.

“People don’t really tell you their backstories, you just know them in the center but you don’t know their history,” said Deborah Wheaton, a senior whose passion for storytelling has taken her beyond the program and to Moth events throughout the city. “It’s really interesting to hear someone tell what’s really important to them.”

“Story Telling” at Prospect Hill Senior Center [283 Prospect Ave. between 5th and 6th avenues in Park Slope,, 718-499-9574]. June 17 at 10:30 am. Free.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Updated 3:16 pm, June 11, 2015
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