'Mortified' at Mass MoCA shines light on awkward adolescent moments


NORTH ADAMS -- It seems every adolescent is fiercely protective of their personal diary. And, looking back as an adult, it was probably for a good reason.

Many of life's most embarrassing moments, thoughts and ideas happen at that tumultuous age. Reading those thoughts as an adult can be quite, well, mortifying -- and so can reading them in front of 200 people.

Such is the concept of "Mortified," an event in which real people read from their real childhood journals to an audience -- divulging secrets they might have otherwise thought they'd never share with the world, or at least revisit again. It's coming to Mass MoCA's Club B-10 Saturday night and, for $12 in advance, audience members can join in on reliving some of life's most awkward moments.

The special theme to the performance is "Doomed Valentines," and will focus on the readers' tales of young love.

"It's a theme of love, love lost, looking for love and love failing," said Karen Corday, co-producer of Saturday's show.

What began in the 1990s as a man sharing an embarrassing love letter with friends, "Mortified" is now a movement, in which people share their childhood musings with crowds in cities across the country.

"It's a comic excavation of all the weird, innovative stuff we created as kids," said Corday.

"Mortified" has chapters in cities throughout the world, according to its website, getmortified.com. The group performing at Mass MoCA Saturday is based in Boston, and this will be its second out-of-city show. The Boston chapter has also played in Portland, Maine.

Corday said the show is comprised of people reading from all kinds of personal artifacts, be it a journal entry, article, poem or story.

"Basically stuff most people leave in a shoebox," she said.

The people who do the show are usually not performers, Corday said, and most have never performed on stage prior to participating in "Mortified." Anyone can pitch a story to "Mortified" on its website, getmortified.com/live/participate, and each show is comprised of the best stories its producers could find from those

The Boston performers are comprised of a social worker, a stand-up comedian and a worker in the pharmaceutical industry, among other professions. They vary in age from late 20s to 60 years old, according to Corday.

"There's a big range of people," she said.

"Mortified" will be one of just a few comedy shows at Mass MoCA.

"Mass MoCA doesn't do comedy very frequently because we're very picky," said Jodi Joseph, MoCA's director of communications. "We have a very high standard intellectually."

"Mortified" was a perfect fit for the museum, according to Joseph. Setting the bar high always makes for a good show, and "they are always some of my favorite."

And though its intellectual, "Mortified" can't be accused of being arrogant or "uppity."

"It's a universal embarrassment," Corday said.


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