By Holli Harms

The MOTH PROJECT- Music/Pictures/Words, created and performed by Peter Kiesewalter and violinist Whitney La Grange, is a collaboration of artists and scientists telling us the astounding story of moths, those remarkable creatures that flutter around the light bulb late at night. It is an extraordinary performance of their lives and their connection to the lives of humans. Their biodiversity, their transformation from birth to the final stage of life, is much like humans as we grow, change, and procreate. Their four key stages of metamorphosis; egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult parallel ours from egg to baby, to child, to adult, their plight of immigration correlates with ours and it illustrates beautifully how we can look at the moth and humans and find many similarities.

This is not a play or musical, but an event with, as the title says, music, pictures, and words. The music has an 80s synth-pop feel utilizing digital recordings and synthesizers. The show is rich with songs and stories by artists like Jane Siberry, “In My Dream”, and Aimee Mann’s “The Moth” where she sings, “The moth don’t care when he sees the flame/He might get burned but he’s in the game,” poetry, Don Marquis’ poem “the lesson of the moth,” and words from Virginia Woolf’s The Death of The Moth. The images and slow-motion movies of these beautiful, playful, eerie, humorous, adorable creatures evoke sentiment, joy, wonder and awe. It’s an evening with artists and scientists creating. It is storytelling lifted to the stars as moths travel by the light of the stars and the moon, known as transverse orientation. Many insects use the light from celestial bodies to navigate their world. Moths are drawn to the flames of a fire, not because of the flames, but because of the light. Our outdoor lighting and backyard illumination confuse these mystical creatures and that’s why they will rest on the front door of your home waiting for that fixed light to show them the way. We are confusing the moths, creating misdirection that can lead to their untimely death.

Peter Kiesewalter has crafted a beautiful event exploring the mysterious life of moths, their profound similarity to humans – our transformations, migrations, conflicts, biodiversity, and connection to our wondrous planet, as well as scientific mindfulness, into a magical, mystical event that will leave you with awe-inspiring wonder.

Kiesewalter weaves into the life story of the moth the story of his family. His parents were immigrants fleeing post-war Germany and moved to Canada. Immigration is one of our basic survival choices that we are experiencing now and will be even more so as the world heats up – leave or die. Moths migrate thousands of miles. Humans do the same. The moth flies to a new life and we walk to ours.

Some things that stuck with me long after the show finished:
– In a letter that he wrote in 1785 George Washington looked to emigration as a way to, “…help solve Europe’s penchant for ongoing internal wars: “Rather than quarrel about territory, let the poor, the needy, & oppressed of the Earth; and those who want land, resort to the fertile plains of our Western Country.”
– Hearing botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer read from her “Returning The Gift,” speaking of all that this planet of ours gives to us and what we take from it. It is an ode to our planet and a cautionary tale to its inhabitants.
– The videos of moths flying and becoming themselves, with names like the Painted Lichen, the Blinded Sphinx, and the regal Hickory Horned Devil. Stunning!

The videos are accompanied by music and songs. All of it is exquisitely done.

This is a project where Kiesewalter has brought together artists, scientists, and statesmen from the past, to create a beautiful, moving, and fascinating journey exploring moths from many angles.

This is an ever-evolving project and Kiesewalter continues to fine-tune, creating more, adding, and enriching. It is a wonderful musical, theatrical, and educational experience for ages 8 to 98.

The New York City Fringe Festival  presented by FRIGID New York presents The MOTH PROJECT – Music/Pictures/Words by The Moth Project – New York, NY Written by Peter Kiesewalter

With Peter Kiesewalter and Whitney La Grange

Sat 4/6 & 4/13 at 7pm & 9pm at MCM Stages

MCM Creative / MCM Stages 253 West 28th Street 3rd and 4th Floors, 253 W 28th St 4th floor, New York, NY 10001

Tickets HERE – one performance left in the Fringe Festival on Saturday, April 13th

Running Time: 60 minutes

The New York City Fringe Festival (formally the FRIGID Fringe Festival) is an open lottery-based theater festival that allows artists to let their ingenuity thrive in an environment that values freedom of expression and artistic determination. In true support of the Indie Theater Community, 100% of box office proceeds go directly to the artists whose work is being presented. New York City Fringe is a proud member of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) and the United States Associate of Fringe Festivals (USAFF).