For on-stage storyteller Tracey Segarra, anticipation came in the form of waiting in a hospital room as her newborn daughter Lilly, now 17, underwent heart surgery.
Segarra will be joined by a line-up of local performers each sharing their own tale of anticipation when she hosts an installment of her on-stage storytelling show “Now You’re Talking,” at the Merrick Theater on Oct. 15.
Segarra committed to becoming a storyteller after hearing her first broadcast of the Moth Radio Hour nearly three years ago on National Public Radio.
“There is immediacy and an authenticity,” Segarra said of the modern art form, in which the performer shares a personal story in front of an audience. Segarra explained that the stories are most often unscripted, and the craft involves confidence, preparation and practice.
“There’s just something that connects you to an audience when you’re speaking from the heart,” she said. “You’re gonna share something about yourself, you’re gonna be vulnerable, you’re gonna let them in.”
Segarra was inspired to create the theme of anticipation, she said, after hearing a story by John Aldridge, who was fishing off the coast of Montauk in 2013 when a wave knocked him off his boat. For 12 hours, Aldridge treaded water as he anticipated either his rescue or his death. Aldridge will be performing his story at the event and promoting his novel “The Speck in the Sea,” which details the experience.
“I think there is something very healing about storytelling for the storyteller and the audience,” Segarra said, adding that she has told her story of her daughter’s heart operation before and said that it yielded one of her fondest memories of performing.
At the end of the show, a cardiac doctor approached her “and told me it was so enlightening to hear me talk about the experience from a parent’s point of view,” Segarra said. “She said it would make her a better doctor.”
Roughly three years ago, at Segarra’s first competition, the Moth StorySLAM in Manhattan, she recounted going through a miscarriage before ultimately giving birth to her twin daughters Lily and Jessica. She won that competition and moved on to the Moth GrandSLAM, which she also won.
Since then, she has contributed to multiple podcasts, taught storytelling workshops and, in November 2016, was named the Mid-Atlantic board member for the National Storytelling Network. Segarra first launched “Now You’re Talking” in June 2015 and, in May, performed an episode of the show to a full house at the Merrick Theater.
Although Moth-inspired performance art is a fairly new endeavor for Segarra, she has always been a storyteller. In her first career, Segarra was a journalist for the United Press International in Manhattan and said that everyday held multiple opportunities to talk to new people and share their stories.
After the company suffered multiple bankruptcies, however, Segarra pursued a career in marketing. In 2008, she started working for a CPA and business advisory firm called Margolin, Winer & Evens in Garden City, where she is still employed today. However, Segarra said, “storytelling is my passion so every free minute I have pretty much… is devoted to storytelling.”
“Now You’re Talking” will be performed on Oct. 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Merrick Theater and Center for the Arts on Hewlett Avenue in Merrick. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.