The creative team behind storytelling juggernaut The Moth joined with acclaimed raconteur Edgar Oliver in October 2012 to present the world premiere of Helen & Edgar, Oliver’s mesmerizing, hilarious and heartbreaking tale of he and his sister Helen’s strange childhood in Savannah, and their mother’s struggle with madness.
Lauded as “a living work of theater all by himself” by Ben Brantley of The New York Times, Oliver is a novelist, poet, and playwright, and an incandescent presence in the New York art scene. He is widely considered one of the English language’s greatest raconteurs.
Helen & Edgar is an expanded version of a story Oliver has been weaving piece by piece since his debut at The Moth in 1998, when he instantly became an audience favorite. Shepherded to the Off-Off Broadway stage by George Dawes Green, founder of The Moth, and directed by Catherine Burns, The Moth’s longtime artistic director, Helen & Edgar pushed the boundaries of theater by experimenting with long-form storytelling.
The evening showcased the power of spontaneity and authenticity celebrated by The Moth, stripping away the artifice and set pieces of scripted plays to reveal an honest, unadorned personal tale. Oliver simply tells a story.
“It has been a longtime dream of ours to take the model we created with The Moth to its next natural step, from shows featuring multiple short stories to full evenings dedicated to a single, true, one-person narrative,” said Green. “Edgar is the perfect artist to help us realize this vision and create a new type of theatrical experience. His stories have captivated audiences for years, and now he will at last deliver the complete, enthralling, heartbreaking tale.”
Oliver’s play, East Tenth Street: Self-Portrait with Empty House, was a critical and commercial smash, with sold-out runs in New York, Edinburgh and Charleston. He was a featured performer in the Jared Hess film Gentlemen Broncos, and he’s gained a broad cult following from his regular appearances on the Discovery Channel series Oddities (“Is that a straitjacket?”). He is the featured performer in Sudden Owl, a new documentary about the global raconteuring movement that was sparked by The Moth.
Green founded The Moth (www.themoth.org) in his New York City living room in 1997. Since then, the nonprofit organization has presented more than three thousand stories, told live and without notes, by people from all walks of life to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. Green is the founder of Unchained, a storytelling bus tour of the South featuring Oliver, former French Vogue Editor-in-Chief Joan Juliet Buck, bestselling author Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Stardust), and regular Moth host and musician Peter Aguero. Burns has been artistic director of The Moth since 2003 and regularly hosts The Moth Radio Hour, the Peabody Award-winning radio show airing on more than 250 public radio stations nationwide.
Yet again receiving a rave review from Ben Brantley of The New York Times, who called Helen & Edgar “utterly absorbing and unexpectedly moving”, fans and admrirers of the three-week sold-out run are still yearning for more!