Join Us at The Athenaeum Theatre on 5/3/15 at 2PM!

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Spotlight on Stephanie Kush

by Tracey on March 26, 2015

It’s an honor to be able to showcase a former cast member in this year’s show. We know you’re going to be moved by Stephanie Kush’s 2015 reading, just as she moved others in 2012. (This is not what she’s reading at our show this year! *grin*)

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“Honest, Open, Willing”

by Stephanie Kush2015-03-15_0066

I’ve been here before, but this – THIS is so, so very different.

I remember being terrified.  It wasn’t the first time that I had felt that way either.  I’m reminded of my 8th grade graduation, being lined up in the hallway between the 5th and 6th grade classrooms.  We were standing in order of height and I was the very last girl standing in front of the very last, and tallest, boy.  I wanted to vomit.  And not because I was standing by the very last and tallest boy in my graduating class, but because people would be staring at me.  I would be in the spotlight if even for a brief few minutes.

I didn’t want that.

Yet, there I was in 2012, standing amongst empty seats in the Biograph Theater and I felt like I was going to vomit, because people would be staring at me and I’d be in the spotlight for a brief few minutes.  This time though, it wasn’t as simple as the physical motions of walking, shaking a hand and taking a diploma.  It was standing and speaking my truth.

I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to go to college to study something that I loved.  I didn’t have to go to prepare to enter into a job upon graduation.  I should have continued that study of love, but instead I found myself pushing aside my application to pursue a Master’s Degree in creative writing and taking on the responsibility of becoming a mother.

I also stopped writing.

I didn’t pick up a pen and put it to paper until 2011 when the call for submissions for the 2012 Chicago Listen to Your Mother show was put out.

I hadn’t written in over 12 years.  

I hadn’t practiced my craft because I thought that it was a frivolous luxury that was selfish.  That I had more important things to do with my time.

I had, actually, put myself on hold for 12 years.  I kept myself stuck.

The words, they had been brewing and percolating the whole time.  They burst forth in a jumble of emotions and truths that was so overwhelming to deal with all of once.  I was in such a fragile emotional state at that time, my self esteem and self worth so low from years of second guessing myself and my talents that I didn’t even know if what I was trying to convey, what I was trying to share, would be understood let alone heard.

When you are so low to bottom the only way you can possibly move is up.

To say that my participation in the 2012 Chicago Listen to Your Mother show was pivotal and life changing is a total understatement.  I felt heard in a way that I hadn’t experienced in over 12 years.

Here I am, again, sharing my truth.  It is a humbling experience.  To be given the opportunity to share your story, your truth and connect with others.   Because, truly, we are not alone.

Here is my truth – I am a storyteller; I am a truth sharer; I pass on my experience, strength and hope because I know, I know within who I am that I am not alone.

I couldn’t say that 4 years ago because I didn’t believe it.

I do now.  That, and so much more.

It’s absolutely amazing, the transformational power, of being heard, of being validated.

I’m not saying that I am not going to be nervous this time around.  I will, that is just who I am.  But I will not have to assume an almost alter ego in order to get up on stage.  I will, though, remember the wonderful words shared to me as I stood amongst the empty seats of the Biograph Theater 4 years ago by a fellow cast member, “Just picture the two of us having drinks and talking.”  Because, simply put, that is what I’m doing.

I hope that you will be there, too; because, it’s a reciprocal thing, this storytelling.  You, too, are not alone.

~~~~~

To be further moved by Stephanie’s words, you have to be in the audience on May 3rd! Tickets are on sale NOW via the Athenaeum Theatre’s website.

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Cast Spotlight on Pamela Valentine

by Tracey on March 24, 2015

When Pamela Valentine walked into the auditions for the 2015 LTYM Chicago show, we were totally unprepared for just HOW much we would love listening to her tell her story. She continues to surprise us with her open heart, kindness, and ability to spin a simple story into something as engaging and introspective as the one she tells below (which is NOT what she’s reading on May 3, by the way!). Read more about Pamela on our “About/Bios” page!

” All Kids Lie”

by Pamela Valentine

All kids lie.  I knew that, going into this whole parenting thing.  I’d watched thirteen nieces and nephews point fingers, blame siblings and tell tall tales for over ten years before I had my own. It’s a child’s way of learning to navigate the complicated and duplicitous lives that we lead as adults.  But the first time it happened to me, and I mean, really happened, it still caught me off guard.  I’m not talking about an “Of course I brushed my teeth” or an “I didn’t color on the wall” level of lie.  I’m talking about one of the whoppers.

It happened in Kindergarten. Our school has a Rainbow Chart system.  Every day, a child starts on green.  Ready to learn.  The residue of past spoiled days washed clean each morning at nine.   If the child misbehaves, talks out of turn, shouts out an answer, runs, or does any other number of subjectively inappropriate actions, he’s moved down the rainbow, from green to yellow.  Then yellow to orange.  And from orange to the dreaded red…which also includes a phone call home.  My child was on yellow a lot. And sometimes orange.  The goal, of course, is to move UP the rainbow.  From green to purple and from purple to the coveted, elusive, impossible-to-obtain-unless-you-are-the-second-Messiah, PINK.  For those of you who are OCD, I know that these are neither the colors nor order of the rainbow…I didn’t design the system, I simply exist within it.

I knew pink was impossible. Hell, I knew purple was a stretch. I didn’t expect much. I wanted green. Every day, ready to learn. Hands folded and to themselves, mouth closed, eyes shiny and bright with a thirst for knowledge. And I know I dug my own grave on this one, because I’ll admit, I bartered. I figured if I promise the world (or at least ice cream) for getting on purple or pink, I was guaranteed green. And on the very rare occasions that he did make purple, what was a scoop of ice cream to me?

So when, one day well into the year, my child made pink, I celebrated. We had pizza for dinner and ice cream for dessert. I know that you know where this is going, but believe me, at the time, I didn’t. My honest and truthful little saint, my “no I don’t have any homework”, “yes I washed all of my body parts” perfect angel could not…no, WOULD not lie about their behavior at school. And besides, they colored the chart in class…so naturally, I assumed, the teacher would know.

When, for a second day in a row, my child made pink, I was through the roof. Then third day and fourth. I was supermom. Supermom with a capital S. I told my child that if he made a WHOLE WEEK on pink, we would go to Chuck E. Cheese. And not alone! We’d invite all of his cousins and friends. The whole neighborhood! And I, of course, would be envied, hailed for being the Greatest Mother On Earth!

I sat on pins and needles all day on Friday. This was our chance to make history. No child had ever made a week on pink, I was certain, and I was the GMOE to artfully and attentively raise said child. When I showed up at school to get him, I didn’t even have to ask. The smile that split his face from ear to ear was all the answer I needed. We made pink. We made pink! I danced, right there in the hall of the school, my child laughing and twirling with me. WE MADE PINK!

Down the hall I could see his teacher. Let’s go celebrate with her! Let’s stand proudly (gloating inwardly) at the most perfect child that I had created. As I turned to take his hand, my heart sank. Big, fat, guilty tears were rolling down his cheeks.

“I lied, Mommy.”

It wouldn’t register. He lied about today, that’s all. Fine, fine, four days is still amazing. Maybe not as epic as five, but still historic.

“No, Mommy, I was never on pink at all. I lied the whole time.”

Each word fell like a ton of bricks. Each word popped a bubble that sent me hurtling back to earth. He had lied the whole time. The whole time.

All kids lie. I knew this. I’d lied as a child too. I’d been waiting for it to happen and yet, when it did, it still took me by surprise. As I marched him down the hall to his teacher to confess to this enormous lie, I knew I was confessing to my own shame, too. By day two, I should have realized something wasn’t quite right. By day three, I should have contacted the teacher to ask. And four and five…those were just pure and unadulterated carelessness. I liked how it felt to have a well-behaved child. I liked how it felt that other mothers, dragging screaming children or telling their children for the umpteenth time to sit down and be quiet, just once, might envy me. But I didn’t have a well-behaved child. I had my child, and he’s overactive and loud, wild and antsy. And it doesn’t make me love him any less for exactly how he is.

As I stood there while my child confessed to his teacher, I realized I’d lied to myself. I was terrified of messing up as a mother. I wanted some kind of validation that I was doing something right. I wanted to be on green. And for a single glorious week, I let myself believe that my child’s success equaled my success as a parent.

Right now, I was hovering just above red on the parent Rainbow Chart. I told my son to go wait down the hall, when he was done. I stuttered through some apology, offering promises and assurances that I would never let this happen again.

“It’s okay. It just goes to show you how very intelligent he is, that he figured out how to get away with it.”

Intelligent, you say? I guess it takes a pretty great mother to raise such an intelligent child!

pamela spotlight

Tickets on sale now! Click HERE to purchase!

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First Rehearsal Recap (Thanks, DL Loft!)

March 19, 2015

Last Saturday afternoon, the 2015 cast of LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER Chicago gathered at an absolutely gorgeous location, local sponsor DL Loft on Lincoln Avenue. More about this amazing place in a minute. The first read-through (or rehearsal: we use those interchangeably!) is one of the very best parts of the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER experience, whether you’re on the production team or you’re a cast member. On this special day, positive energy oozes through the air as people meet each other for the first time and finally hear all of the essays that make up the “quilt” of our show. This is the only day on which the cast gets to be the audience, hearing everything for the first time. Tracey and I love it because we get to watch the cast members’ faces and hear their reactions as they listen. Everyone has been bonding for about a month now in a […]

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Early Bird is Almost Done!

March 14, 2015

Our first rehearsal was everything we knew it would be! Laughter, tears, hugs, and praise for the amazing words and courage that were shared in the DL Loft on Lincoln. We’ll update with a more in depth post later on, but here’s a teaser of some of the beautiful photos that Brandi Lee of Balee Images captured…   Remember that tomorrow is the last day for Early Bird Pricing!! If you want to save $4 a ticket, go to the Athenaeum website before the end of 3/15 and place your order!     by

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Announcing The Cast Of Listen To Your Mother Chicago 2015!

February 12, 2015

You are cordially invited to join our audience on Sunday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m., at the beautiful Athenaeum Theatre, for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO 2015! Great information, yes, but there’s one detail we haven’t been able to divulge until today…this year’s cast! Tracey and I are thrilled, excited, delighted, and every other word you could find in the thesaurus (err okay, on thesaurus dot com) to match those kinds of emotions to announce the newest members of the LTYM Chicago family, our 2015 cast: Angie Bahng Keesha Beckford Kathleen Buckley Cindy Fey Stephanie Kush Patti Minglin Lyletta Robinson Samantha Schultz Erin Skibinski David Slattery Cyn Vargas Pamela Valentine Please join us in congratulating these fine ladies and man: we can’t wait to get started and we know this year’s journey to stage is going to be positively magical! And get pumped up, Chicago: it’s going to be another awesome show! Tickets […]

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