Q&A with Frayn Masters of Back Fence PDX

The Daily Astorian (Portland, OR), November 9, 2012


When Back Fence PDX hosted its first live storytelling shows in 2008, the idea of standing up in front of your friends and neighbors to tell your most intimate and personal stories was a novelty to most Portlanders.

“When we started, we got numerous emails from people asking if they could bring their kids,” says Back Fence host and executive producer Frayn Masters. “I had to explain that it was 21 and over and there was going to be subject matter that they wouldn’t want to expose their kids to,” she says, laughing.

But thanks to the acclaimed New York-based storytelling series The Moth, which pioneered and popularized the genre through its podcast and public radio show, Masters doesn’t have to explain things any longer..

“Storytelling has had a huge growth since The Moth began podcasting and people began to understand what this type of thematic and true storytelling is like,” says Masters. “Initially we would say, ‘It’s like This American Life’ or ‘It’s true stories based on a theme.’ Now we just say, ‘It’s like The Moth’ and people immediately get it.”

They also seem to love it. Back Fence’s live shows, held every other month at the Mission Theater, are selling out and drawing interest from storytellers and online listeners from around the country. This month, Masters and Oregon Public Broadcasting are launching a radio program based on the series.


Subjects Covered: storytelling festivals

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