Team LTYM Chicago

by admin on December 31, 2012

Last week we covered “Being scared but doing it anyway because why not conquer your fear and you’ll definitely be amazing” as a really good reason to submit a piece for the 2013 LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER SHOW.

Another good reason to submit a piece for the show is so you can publicly document some of your “Mom Things” and become a part of something bigger: the member of a team, a piece of the pie, just one of many spokes in the same wheel.

Megan Stielstra was the lone cast member in 2012 who had extensive experience reading her stories in front of lots of people. She dazzled us from the moment we met her, and inspired everyone else on the cast (most of whom had never read their words on stage before) to rise to their own personal best as we went through the process. Here’s a little bit about her audition experience:

“Through my work with 2nd Story, I’ve been lucky enough to tell stories around all sorts of themes: heartbreak, politics, faith, sexual identity, dodging bullets, fear, marriage, fantasy, and regret, to name just a few. Usually, I’m commissioned for these shows. I’ll get the theme assignment and then, for a day or two or three, I live with it, reaching down the line of my life to find the moments, experiences, and lessons that fit the idea. I write about it in my journal, talk about it with friends, talk about it with myself when I’m stuck in traffic—

Sidebar: stuck in traffic is an essential part of my writing process. It’s when I think things through and figure out what I want the work to—as they say—say. One time, my son was in the backseat and he said, “Mommy, who are you talking to?” This was it: the moment when I explained to my child that I hear voices, not voices like Sybil Dorsett and all of her alters or The United States of Tara, voices like characters. Like, as perhaps more graspable for a four-year-old, imaginary friends. Many, many imaginary friends. “I’m talking to myself, baby,” I told him, and you know what he did? He leaned forward on his booster seat and said, “You don’t have to talk to yourself, Mommy. You can talk to me!” Imagine a huge tidal wave crashing over Lakeshore Drive and engulfing our car—that’s the pride I felt for this little boy. Pride and gratitude and awe. He is Just. So. Awesome.

—Anyhow. I’m stuck in traffic, thinking about stories. I’ll think of one or two or five connected to whatever theme I’ve been assigned, and then I’ll grab whichever one is most taking my attention, that big proverbial YOU ARE HERE sign, and on from there. But motherhood? Motherhood shook the living hell out of me, not because I couldn’t come up with anything; rather the opposite. I couldn’t stop. My usual one or two or five ideas was now twenty, twenty-five, forty, all those mom things I’ve written about in some way or another for the past four years suddenly clogging my brain: stories about Caleb’s infancy, turning one, turning two, the many times I’ve questioned myself, the many times I’ve felt literally breathless with joy. Which one to walk into the audition for Listen To Your Mother? What were the producers looking for? How on Earth was I supposed to choose?

In the end, I didn’t.”

(Read the full post here.)

Megan not only brought the voice of experience to our cast, but she happened to bring the ears of experience, too. She is a really awesome listener. In fact, during rehearsals Tracey and I had a hard time keeping our eyes off of her when someone else was reading their piece. Megan is very expressive and her body language was so fun to watch: nodding, clapping, grinning from ear to ear…every reaction came straight from her heart. In fact, if the whole audience could be full of Megans, nobody would be nervous about getting up there in the first place.

The fact that we had this “professional” on our cast? Didn’t matter. Every single person in the show learned from all of the others, and the sense of being a team was there from our first meeting through the show itself (and even beyond: we are a new family!). If you could have been backstage with us, in the dark, listening to each cast member read their piece to the audience of 299 people, you’d have felt it. You would have seen (and participated in) some of the warmest congratulatory hugs. You would have felt supported. We were all equals, and we all took care of one another.

It just happened to work out that one of our more fearful cast members started the show and one of our more fearless cast members ended it, but in looking back on it as I write this I’m proud of LTYMChicago 2012 all over again, because those two ladies along with everyone who was sandwiched in between them on our set list made up one of the most cohesive, supportive, caring groups of people with whom I’ve ever had the pleasure of working, in my life.

Here’s Megan’s reading:

Wouldn’t you love to be a part of a creative TEAM effort? A piece of that pie? A spoke in the wheel? Tracey and I encourage you to submit your own essay. The deadline is January 15 and you can get the rest of the specifics HERE. Any questions? Leave them in the comments or email us at

Kathy January 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I am watching these clips as I am preparing to submit my piece and it is so moving, inspiring and also intimidating. But thank you for sharing the TEAM who did this last year and such a wonderful job, at that. Megan and her story are fabulous!

Melisa January 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm

So glad you’re enjoying! We thought it would be fun to combine our submission promos with the excellent work our cast did earlier this year.

Please don’t be intimidated. We watched every single cast member work very hard on their readings and they did indeed ALL rise to the occasion on show day. I’m sure it will be the same for the 2013 cast. We were (still are!) so proud.

Kathy January 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Thank you Melisa! I appreciate knowing that and it is a great idea to combine your promos with highlighting last year’s cast.

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