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Berkeleyan on The Moth Radio Hour this weekend

Becky O'Malley
Friday September 23, 2016 - 02:05:00 PM

A Berkeley resident, Tony Cyprien, has scored a spot on public radio’s popular story-telling show “The Moth Radio Hour”.

Tony joined his wife in Berkeley about 5 years ago, finally paroled after spending the years between ages 17 and 43 in prison for a gang-related conviction which carried a sentence of 26 years to life.

His personal story of his incarceration and salvation, as he recounts it, will be included in the latest Moth episode, "GrandSLAMS Coast to Coast," which is going out to public radio stations across the United States and will air according to local schedules through next Monday. It will be on KQED-FM on Saturday night at 10, and on KALW-FM on Sunday at 6pm.

The full episode which contains his story, which starts about 30 minutes from the beginning, can be heard online here.

Since Tony came home, he’s been earning a living with the welding trade he learned while he was incarcerated, fabricating and assembling custom metal products. But he’s discovered that his real love, and eventual career goal, is performing. 

Tony was taking an improv class at Berkeley Rep from Rebecca Stockley, when she suggested he tell a story at MOTH Radio which had a new venue across the street at Freight & Salvage. He went the next night, sat and listened in the audience, and said to his wife, "I can do this." 

The next visit to a MOTH radio performance was at Public Works in San Francisco. His name was drawn from the hat, and the first time was a charm: He won. 

Tony made it to the GrandSlam at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, where he placed 3rd out of 10. The story was picked up by New York-based Senior Producer Jenifer Hixson, and it airs this week on National Public Radio. 

Kate Brubeck helped him develop his material so he might coherently crush 30 years of life change into this five minute story. 

He enjoys performance of all kinds: comedy, improv, storytelling. Through a program sponsored by Marin Shakespeare and with the direction of Suraya Keating, he and five other formerly incarcerated people wrote and performed a play titled "Nobody Told Us We Were Diamonds: The Story of How I Found Me." He's looking for a venue to play it again. 

Tony is currently a teaching assistant for one of Rebecca Stockley's classes at BATS Improv in San Francisco. He aspires to create a one man show and to bring improv to young offenders. 

To see more of his work, you can watch his first MOTH story on YouTube. It’s a delightful reminiscence about true love in kindergarten, and the accompanying body language which you miss on radio adds a lot.