Dispatches from the Moth · Posted On: Sep 12, 2023

Storytelling School with The Moth: Monthly Storytelling Activity #61

by The Moth Staff

Lesson #61: FORECASTING: “Bring Me Liberty or Bring Me A Dress” - Sue Schmidt


Welcome back to Storytelling School! We’re celebrating this Back to School season with a story all about learning from our elders. Sue Schmidt told this month’s story in Miami in 2018. 

This month’s Storytelling School story is:

“Bring Me Liberty or Bring Me A Dress” by Sue Schmidt

After you’ve watched and read the story, you can do the following activities: 

Talk to each other about Susanne’s story. 

  • For each post, we’ll highlight a different crafting strategy for how to make your story compelling. For this post, we’ll focus on FORECASTING. Sue masterfully weaves in important details at the beginning of her story that pay off later on. 

  • There are a few moments where the audience anticipates what Sue is about to reveal. What is the effect of that on your experience as a listener? Were you also ahead of her? What were those moments? And what tipped you off? 

  • Sue manages the tricky feat of telling a story about many members of her family but bringing it all back to her personal narrative. What are some of the choices she makes to make that possible?

Let’s Play “Have You Ever”

Raise your hand if … 

  • You’ve ever learned a phrase in another language

  • You’ve ever gotten to know a family member through stories 

  • You’ve ever won a family argument

  • You’ve ever had to convince your family to let you do something

  • You’ve ever chosen your instrument 

  • You’ve ever made your family proud

  • You’ve ever channeled a family member you never met

  • You’ve ever worked really hard for something that will benefit future generations

  • You’ve ever truly rocked it

  • Role model venn diagram! Sue admired the drummer Karen Carpenter and was inspired to play the drums. This exercise can lead you toward some new hobbies, goals, or characteristics! Draw three circles together like this and label each one with someone you admire - they can be anyone! Then fill in the spaces with what you know and like about them. Do you have anything in common with them? Do any of these traits stand out to you as things you already are or goals you have for yourself? 

  • Draw your power outfit! Sue LOVED her long green emerald evening gown and she made it work for her! Use this paper doll template to draw out an outfit you’ve worn and loved that made you feel unstoppable. What did you feel when you put it on? Where were you? What was the occasion? Can’t think of an outfit you’ve worn? No problem! Think of one you liked on a mannequin or someone else!

Share this post with a friend!

And check back the second Tuesday of every month for another story.

Storyteller bio

SUSANNE SCHMIDT, a native New Yorker, visited Vermont in 1985 with only a cat, a Karmann Ghia, and a guitar. Just over the border, the car broke down, the guitar was bartered to the tow truck man, and the cat ran away. Despite what others might have taken as ill omens, Susanne decided that Vermont was the perfect place to call home. In addition to being a jazz drummer and a storyteller, Susanne is also a professor for Southern New Hampshire University's graduate program in Clinical Mental Health. She is the mother of two amazing sons who would prefer that she not talk about them on stage. She is a standup comic, storyteller, Moth StorySLAM winner, host, and regional producer. Susanne is also the founder of "Say It Forward Productions", a storytelling performance collaborative that raises funds for non-profit organizations.

The Moth Education Program works with young people and educators to build community through storytelling workshops, performances and innovative resources.

We are always looking for more young people and educators to join our storytelling workshops!  To learn more, apply for a workshop, or refer someone you know, please go to themoth.org/education

The Moth Education Program is made possible by generous support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Charitable Trust, the Kate Spade New York Foundation, and Alice Gottesman, and The Paul & Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation.

Additional program support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the New York State Council on the Arts, ConEdison, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.