There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
– Maya Angelou
In Ojai we saw that burden lifted.
We watched as 18 women stood up in front of the group to Say It, where “it” refers exactly to this burden of the unexpressed: a dream you’re too afraid to claim even to yourself, the real you hidden for fear of judgment, a story of resilience and survival once cloaked in shame, a crossroads you find yourself stuck in, a fear gnawing at you, a tribute to a lost loved one, a rant waiting for release, or simply that spotlight you crave but can never seem to find.
Thanks to an invitation from CA founders Andrea Fellman and Leane Vandeman, Listen To Your Mother facilitated a space for these stories to be told and received. Anyone who wanted to read got the chance–no auditions, no selection process. People emailed me their pieces beforehand and I put them into an order that I thought might flow. Right before the salon a woman asked Can I please read? I really need this. Of course the answer was yes, and the order adjusted–because in this context LTYM’s function lay in facilitating a process–to excavate these stories and free that burden– and not in producing a show.
The irony? The “show” was incredible. Granted CA attracts some serious talent, but so many people remarked to me their disbelief that an evening of 18 volunteer readers unedited and unrehearsed could captivate, move and yes entertain us so thoroughly. For those who’ve worked on an LTYM show, I refer you to my Greyhound Bus station analogy: I’m fond of telling LTYM directors, producers and casts that you could do an LTYM show in a Greyhound station with only the people in that station and walk away forever changed by the stories you find there. It’s that simple.
A reader previously terrified of public speaking said after the salon…
I want to do this again.
A woman once afraid to show too much of herself through her words wrote…
And just like that, surrounded by the laughter of some of the most diverse and amazing women from all over the country, something broke inside of me and I realized– I’m not too scared anymore.
and no one in the audience (including me) could believe how quickly the time passed as we listened.
The untold story drives all of us, I believe. It can drive us to despair or it can drive us to connect and create. Sometimes that story just needs an audience.
In honor of the Say It Salon and in accordance with LTYM’s mission, attendees raised over $500 for Help A Mother Out, helping them reach their milestone goal of 1,000,000 diapers given to families in need.
Thank you to Andrea and Leane, to the readers who bravely shared, and for the audience who bore their stories by listening. To get more of a sense of the Creative Alliance vibe, watch Suebob’s slideshow…