Sara Faith Alterman, “Mortified”

Q&A: Teen Spirit

Sara Faith Alterman, Boston chapter coproducer of the live-journal performance Mortified, invites you to relive your oh-em-gee embarrassing teenage lovesick puppy years at the Oberon on Feb. 14.

How did Mortified get started?
I was not one of the founding members, but a little over 10 years ago, the creator, David Nadelberg, found a letter that he had written to a girl that he had a crush on but never sent. He started reading it to his friends, who all thought it was hilarious. He discovered that a lot of other people had saved embarrassing artifacts from their teen years. The stage show was born out of that. The Boston show began about six years ago.

What’s the overarching idea behind the show?
We call Mortified a comic excavation of the strange and extraordinary things we created as kids. So people get up on stage in front of an audience of strangers, and they read their most embarrassing diary entries, poems, school assignments—things that we knit together to tell a story about who this person was as a teenager. The point is to laugh at themselves and hope that the audience laughs along with them.

Do a lot of people show up to audition?
We ask anyone who’s interested in auditioning for the show to send us samples of their diaries so we can take a look beforehand. We don’t want you to tell [us] about your teenage self using your own adult words and adult confidence. We want to see what teenage-you thought about the terrible experience that you had.

Did you ever keep a diary?
I did keep a diary, and I wrote songs and poems. I had really nosy parents. I had a boyfriend in high school, and I made the mistake of writing this explicit note about him, and my mom found it. It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life. When you’re a teenager, you’re trying to snuff out what sex is anyway, and then to think that you have the privacy to do that with your friends, and then to have your mom discover that not only are you sexually active but that you don’t really know what you’re doing—it was just terrible. I really wish I still had that note. That was a bad one.

This article originally appeared in the February 13, 2013, issue of The Improper Bostonian.