I’m 30,000 feet up and reflecting on our first 5 shows. Half done—woooosh! My Mom, my cousin Jonathan, and Deb Rox (business strategist, dear friend) and I had the luxury of sitting in the audience for LTYM: NYC yesterday. With the house full to-bursting, we listened to an afternoon of stellar readings–some riotously funny, others beautifully reflective, and all of them incredibly brave. Some of my favorite moments came from the audience themselves. Seated directly in front of us, a man wrapped his arms around the loved ones he brought with him to see the show, holding them close during certain emotional moments. As Deborah read her hilarious piece about 2 moms dealing with one sick child and not necessarily making them twice-as-equipped, I got to watch her partner Gabriella cracking up and knowing–nodding throughout. I heard crying behind me, during a show-stopping piece about the remorse–and opposite of remorse–of the decision of a young pregnant woman.
Every single woman and man on that stage left her or his comfort zone in a different way. And there wasn’t one of us who didn’t feel utterly transformed by the experience. It was so great I’m considering piling into the car on Friday to go see Philly’s LTYM show. I want to be in a room like that again. –Amy Wilson, LTYM:NYC Director
Then it hit me.
My Mom and I attended two Broadway plays during our weekend. I think for the majority of people in those audiences the reaction I could never get up there and do that is common. Sitting among the audience and talking to them afterwards, I think people look up at an LTYM podium and not only think I could do that! but immediately begin putting words to a story in their soul. For this reason, no cast member need fret about their performance–when you trip over a line or all of a sudden find a lump in your throat, you only make the podium more approachable.
I want to thank the entire casts and especially the local directors and producers of our first five shows for giving Mother’s Day a Microphone in their cities–and making the podium approachable for people who might never otherwise ponder the possibility. Amy Wilson–actress, author, director and friend, Varda Steinhardt–savvy producer, soulful writer, lovely-if-squashed mom, Holly Rosen Fink–sponsor dynamo, online impresario, and enthusiasm-infuser, and witty entrepreneur whirlwind Betsy Cadel–off and running before we could even say HELP, your team work inspired this incredible debut.
Wendi Aarons, your devotion to this project and understanding of its guiding vision resulted in an overwhelming amount of submissions this year, and an incredible Austin cast. Your humor-genius and eye for great writing balanced with Liz McGuire‘s gift of grace in both her prose and role as producer, as evidenced by this quote and others like them filling the blogosphere and social media:
People told me, and other cast members, after the show that they experienced so many emotions that afternoon. And everyone had their own favorite moment. We’d been told that was the case last year, that each piece resonated differently, finding a fit somewhere in the audience. And while that made perfect sense to me – logically, anyway – before the show, it wasn’t until I sat in the theater that I felt the audience connecting. I could feel them reacting with a laugh here, a sniffle there; at times, it seemed like there was a physical link between the reader and certain audience members. –Missy Stevens, LTYM: Austin
The force of nature named Lela Davidson charmed the audience at The Open Mic Salon at BlogHer’11 with a hysterical essay from her book, and turned in her application to host her own LTYM show weeks later. In addition to a delightful on-and off-stage persona, Lela’s charisma and drive brought her community together–and in fact her surrounding communities for an unforgettable afternoon–thanks to the help of self-described facebook junkie Stephanie McCratic.
…You feel the plastic sheet under your finger tips as you inhale to read. You look out at the audience but see no faces, the light blinds your sight. You speak the first words and very soon after that the last sentence. You’ve told your story. You’ve shared a part of yourself. The show is over. And just before you have time to reoccupy the world of self doubt and fear a woman walks up to you and grabs you underneath your arm and gently squeezes. “Me too”, she says knowingly. You hold each other’s glance. Through the humor and posturing she got it- Your story was her story. –Jasmine Banks, LTYM: Northwest Arkansas
The first year for LTYM: DC’s dynamic duo Stephanie Stearns Dulli and Kate Coveny Hood, and they filled the house and the hearts of everyone in attendance. The combination of Stephanie’s theater chops and Kate’s incredible organizational skills and networking power proved the perfect combination–only enhanced by the strength of their talents and powerful presence online.
…One of the things I really liked about the show was it was generational – it powerfully opened with a piece by a grandmother who reminded us all that we are mother warriors. After the show, it was a pleasure to stop and talk with people who enjoyed our show and to hear more about why they enjoyed it. My conclusion – sometimes we all need a break from the kids to sit together and remember that we aren’t alone. Final thing – sometimes I feel like I am writing in a black hole – I just put it out there into cyberspace and there it goes – but reading in front of an audience and hearing their reaction – now I see why people love performing! What a thrill!! –Monica Sakala, LTYM: DC
LTYM: Chicago’s Melisa Wells and Tracey Becker didn’t know each other when they took on their first LTYM show. I’ve loved watching their friendship and partnership evolve, and their enthusiasm for the entire process proved utterly contagious. Their combined blogging, social networking power and community influence, plus their infectious love for their LTYM: Chicago foray sold out their show in ONE WEEK–unprecedented in our 2 year history. And given the way that Melisa and Tracey checked-in on me with phone calls and emails of support throughout the entire process, I know first-hand the kind of community the created among their cast.
…I got to do something few parents ever get to do. While I am still alive, and presumably healthy, I stood up in front of in front of a room full of people and told my firstborn child how much I love her, in spite of my imperfections and the bullshit that we have gone through as a family. I told her what I think of her as a person, and how much I hope that I get to see her become more of that person as she grows up. I told her that I don’t want to die and that knowing her has made living even more important to me. In five minutes, I said just about everything that I think I would want to say to her, whether I had all the time in the world or whether my time was up. –Katy Jacob, LTYM: Chicago
Thank you to all for giving LTYM 2012 such a beautiful season beginning. Everyone, have a beautiful Mother’s Day weekend. We hope you spend it with LTYM! Tickets are still available in Madison, Northwest Indiana (but going fast), Philadelphia, San Francisco and Spokane.