Welome to #LTYM Chicago 2016!

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It’s Not Just a Show.

by Melisa on January 28, 2016

There’s only one week left to submit your motherhood story to us if you’d like to be considered for Chicago’s 2016 (Fifth Annual!) LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show.

This is, obviously, a very exciting time for Tracey and me because the newest members of our LTYM Chicago family are sitting right there in our inbox (or they’re about to arrive!). We’ve written about this “family” many times, and I bet some people think that we are tossing that word around lightly. We’re not. Each year, our alumni have been the first to cheer for the new cast members. The first to offer assistance with the show. The first to offer advice. We cheer for each other when there’s good news and help each other weather the bad. It’s incredible, truly. Tracey and I being a part of the circumstances that connect lots of fabulous people from all walks of life–who may not have ever met otherwise–has been a privilege for us, and in our fifth season we remain in awe and so thankful that we actually get to do this. LTYM changes lives. It’s changed mine and Tracey’s. It’s changed the lives of lots of Chicago folks as well as people all across the country. It could change yours, too.

Here's the alumni picture we took after our 2014 show. We hope to be snapping another one this year: we're gonna need a bigger stage!

Here’s the alumni picture we took after our 2014 show. We hope to be snapping another one this year: we’re gonna need a bigger stage! (Photo credit Balee Images)

A couple of days ago I read this great post, written by Oklahoma City alumna Jennifer McMurrain, about her LTYM OKC family. What she says is true for so many people who get involved in this project: they come into the fold expecting one thing but end up with so much more, and often different from what was expected. (That said, if you want to be a part of LTYM only to tell your story? TOTALLY GREAT. I’m just saying that you might be surprised with what you get from the experience. Regardless, SUBMIT YOUR STORY, please and thank you!)

Jennifer inspired me to ask my OWN Chicago family to reflect on their favorite part of the experience or what they’re most thankful for and they were, as always, ever so generous. (Thanks guys, love you!)

If you’re on the fence about putting yourself and your story out there, I hope you’ll get a sense of the love that comes through what LTYM Chicago Alumni had to say, and then sit down to prepare an email for Tracey and me, introducing us to your story:

Robin Frisch (2013): LTYM gave me a voice to speak out, loud and strong, about things that were hard when, as a child, I felt I had no real voice at all. The most gratifying part of performance day was when someone in the audience came up to me after the show and told me she had a similar upbringing to me, and hearing me speak helped give her the insight to realize that she has come out stronger from her childhood as well. Growing up with a mother who is mentally ill is hard, but being able to come to terms with it, and finding growth and strength, is a very good thing after all.

Julie Vassilatos (2014): LTYM made it possible for me to think and share publicly about how complicated loving our mothers can be. And mothers loving children. It goes on and on throughout the generations and everyone can relate to this. And I met some amazing women in the process. Together we went through a huge challenge in an atmosphere of complete support. It’s easy to feel alone in our experiences–that they are “unique” and “no one can understand them.” LTYM fractures this fiction into a million pieces and leaves them lying on the stage.

Lyletta Robinson (2015): Aside from gaining a new family, LTYM Chicago allowed me to tell the story of my mother. A regular woman—who through simple acts, was allowed to pass along wisdom that can’t be gained in a classroom. While not a mother myself, being allowed to give my late mother a voice was more impactful than I can ever express.

Stephanie Kush (2012 & 2015): This whole processes of letting go, surrendering and becoming comfortable with the rawness of exposing myself is all thanks to Listen to Your Mother. It was my participation in the 2012 show that was the catalyst for everything that I have been able to achieve artistically.

Meggan Sommerville (2014): Listen to Your Mother was an opportunity for me to find something in myself that I lacked – confidence, Confidence in telling my story. Confidence in being more open about who I am.

Pamela Valentine (2015): LTYM gave me the courage to share my story and the realization that people wanted to hear it. Stepping up on that stage opened the floodgates and the doors to a world of opportunities. Now I call myself a writer and an advocate and a kickass mom, and that’s all thanks to LTYM.

Kari Wagner Hoban (2014): Man, there are so many favorite parts for me to list. I mean, I wrote an entire post dedicated to it but if I had to pick what I was most thankful for, I would have to say the family I was adopted into after being selected. I have this amazing tribe of people who I know will always have my back no matter what and it is the most unexpected thing I ever thought I would get out of this experience. I entered this kind of selfishly, thinking it would be really cool to get up on stage and talk about MY experiences and yet, the best part of the whole thing is that I got extra family out of it. (Note to Kari: NOT selfish! ~Melisa)

Patti Minglin (2015): When I first auditioned for LTYM Chicago my goal was to simply tell my story. It was during the first rehearsal when I realized this was more than just an opportunity to be a storyteller—it was an opportunity for me to expand my own definition of what it means to be a mother. Yes, motherhood was all the things I had experienced: love, tears, joy, exhaustion. But, through the stories of others, I learned that motherhood is also strong, forgiving, limitless and breathtaking. By sharing my own story of motherhood I was able to appreciate even more the stories of others—something that has stayed with me long after I left the LTYM stage.

Saya Hillman (2014): LTYM helped me do something that shouldn’t be a hard thing to do, yet it was and is hard for me to do. Because, complicated. LTYM helped me say “Thank you” to my mother. And regardless of complicated, I am forever grateful for that.

Sheila Quirke (2013): The opportunity to parent a child who is no longer with you simply by telling their story is a gift. LTYM was that opportunity to share my daughter with an open and receptive audience, surrounded by the most supportive castmates you could conjure up. So grateful.

Kathleen Buckley (2015): I was so nervous at our first rehearsal but the other cast members, all of whom were strangers only moments before, sat before me with encouragingly smiles and gave me the confidence to tell them my story. When they began to laugh IN THE RIGHT PLACES, well, that just fueled my confidence further and I found myself smiling back at them. The high fives and reciprocal pats-on-the-back that we gave each other in rehearsals and via our daily social media contact was all I needed. I knew I could do it. I could get up on that big stage at that fabulous theater and tell my story as well as anyone. And I did. I owe so much to the support of the Listen to Your Mother team – cast, producers, audience – and cherish the real friends so many of these strangers became. Support, confidence, friendship. That is what Listen to Your Mother gave me.

Samantha Schultz (2013 & 2015): Meeting one of my best friends and then performing with her two years later!

Katy Jacob (2012): The opportunity to read something to my daughter that I would have never told her in person.

Angela Bahng (2015): My favorite part of the LTYM journey was that first rehearsal and listening to everyone’s stories for the first time. I can’t describe what a powerful and amazing moment that was. So thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of the Chicago cast last year!

Kim Z. Dale (2014): I was worried my story was too specific and small for others to care about, but from the first rehearsal through the final show I found a community who laughed with me, cried with me, and accepted me. Listen to Your Mother is a reminder that our experiences may be different, but we don’t have to be alone.

Brandie Langer (2012): My favorite part was finishing it. No, not like that. But I honestly didn’t think I was capable of doing it, and then when I did – when it was over and I realized I was indeed capable, I felt really amazing!

Please consider submitting your story to us this week. Yes, you. YES, YOU. I am speaking directly to you. We’re waiting for YOUR story, and we can’t wait to read it!

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Chicago Submissions are Open!

by Tracey on January 18, 2016

Today is the day! We are now accepting submissions for the Chicago 2016 Listen To Your Mother Show, which will be held on Sunday May 1 at 2:00pm, at the Athenaeum Theatre! From today, January 18, until 11:59pm CST on February 5th, all submissions are welcome for consideration.

Details before you submit:

1. IMPORTANT: Each essay must fall within three (MINIMUM) to five-ish minutes (MAXIMUM, and shorter is preferred!) when read aloud. This is approximately 2-3 pages, but will vary widely depending on content and speaking style. PLEASE READ IT ALOUD AND TIME YOURSELF, and then edit appropriately to achieve the desired time before submitting if necessary. (Also, please note that all essays are subject to light editing, for time or other reasons if eventually selected for our show.) Do not memorize your essay. This is a show of readings. We WANT you to read it!

2. The main theme of your piece must have something to do with “motherhood.” You do not have to be a mother (or a professional writer!) or even a woman to submit an essay! Read this post we wrote about the non-mom perspective.

3. We always look for a diverse mix of stories. In addition, we look for funny essays, sad essays, and everything in between.

4. Keep in mind that we advertise our show as PG-13 due to some mature topics. Anything with strong language may be edited for a wide audience: we want to put together a show that you can watch with your mom and grandma! And sisters! And husbands! And teens!

5. You must be the author and owner of all rights to your piece. (Totally fine if it’s been previously published as long as you retain the rights.)

6. If you have submitted an essay previously that we have asked you to read for us at auditions, it’s totally fine to submit the same one if you’d like to.

7. ONLY ONE SUBMISSION PER PERSON. We are firm on this. If you can’t decide between two, please don’t send both; ask someone close to you to help decide on ONE before emailing us.

8. You must be available for the following dates/times:
Auditions: Feb 27th or 28th or 29th(various audition time slots available)
Rehearsal: March 19th, 12-3 pm
Rehearsal: April 17th, 2-5 pm
Show Date: May 1st, 11-7 (approximately)

9. Send your essay to ltymchicago@gmail.com with the title of your piece and the words “2016 submission” in the subject line. Example: a submission titled “My Motherhood Story” would have a subject line that says: “My Motherhood Story, 2016 submission.”

Photo credit: Elizabeth Rago

Photo by Elizabeth Rago

We will email everyone who submits with a confirmation of receipt within 24 hours. Emails informing everyone of choices for auditions will go out on February 6.

If you have questions, please ask in the comments or email us! We promise you, this experience is worth it, EVERY time!!

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Chicago’s Charity for 2016

January 13, 2016

There are countless aspects of Listen To Your Mother that cause us to pause and ask ourselves how we were so blessed to become involved. The community it creates, the empowerment it provides… and especially the ability to work with some amazing charities and non-profits. Did you know that each show contributes at least 10% of their ticket proceeds to a local organization? It’s humbling to see the incredible work that these local foundations are providing and to know that our show will benefit their efforts. It’s beyond humbling to know that on a national level, Listen To Your Mother has contributed over $80,000 to women and children focused charities and non-profits! In the past years, the Chicago show has worked with Bright Pink, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Recovery on Water, and The Red Pump Project. Each organization has a specific and unique aspect to them that touched our hearts. We highly encourage you to check out their […]

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You Don’t Even Have To Be A Mom!

January 5, 2016

As you’re preparing your true motherhood story for any one of the FORTY-ONE cities hosting a LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show (Chicago submission period begins on Monday, January 18!), I thought it would be a good idea to repurpose this post I wrote in 2014, because this is so important… Even though we always make sure to say that LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER is open to everyone who is a mom or has had a mom (that pretty much covers everybody!), one of the misconceptions of the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER movement is that you have to be a mom in order to be in a show. No, no, no, no. Not at all! In fact, we LOVE to hear stories from non-moms! Examples, just to name a few, are stories: ~ By women who are non-moms by choice (Why did you make that decision? Tell us stories about how people react to […]

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Chicago Folks, Start Your Engines!

December 14, 2015

We know, we know…you’re crazed right now. It’s December, after all! Could we please add one more thing to your list? WRITE! We will be accepting submissions to consider for our FIFTH ANNUAL Chicago show—which will be held on Sunday May 1, 2016 at the Athenaeum Theatre—starting the week of January 18th. We wanted to give you some time to get your true stories of motherhood on paper or into the computer! Let’s get writing (or editing), shall we? Are you sitting there thinking you could never write your story because you’re not a writer, or thinking you could never get up on a stage and tell your story because you’re not a professional speaker? Are you thinking you or your story isn’t good enough? Stop it. We’re here to tell you otherwise. This is not a show for professional speakers/writers (though we welcome all levels of experience). LTYM is about Motherhood and […]

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