Being Heard

by admin on January 9, 2013

The brilliant tagline that Ann Imig came up with for the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER show is “Giving Mother’s Day a microphone!” It makes me smile every time I see it or hear it because it’s so true. The main reason that all of us directors and producers in TWENTY! FOUR! CITIES! this year are putting the time and effort in is because of the stories that need to be told. What Tracey and I found in our first year of production is that so many people think they are alone in their experiences. The truth is, even though details might vary, any story is something with which other people can identify. Sharing in front of three hundred people might be scary at first because you can’t imagine that anyone would be touched by your particular experience, but it’s very, very likely that your essay is exactly what someone in the audience needed to hear at that moment.

We found that to be true with 2012 Chicago cast member Stephanie Kush, but let me back up for a minute, to auditions. Tracey and I (and our friend Margaret, who assisted with auditions last year) were stunned by Stephanie’s essay. It was different in emotion from every single other piece we had heard that day. Her piece, “Stifle”, was about how she felt as the mother of a son whose father had chosen to step out of the picture. She was fearful and angry, and those feelings came through loud and clear as she read to us, starting immediately:

“My Dear Son…I want you to know that I tried. That I really, really tried. But you see, you cannot force someone to change. They have to want to change. Though do realize that I have come to a place of indifference, and it was hard to get there. I had to wade through hate and anger, thick like tar…”

In addition to the emotion, we were struck by the honesty in her essay and in choosing her for the cast, we were simultaneously excited that we were going to be able to give her story a microphone and worried that she might not want her story “out there” forever. The thing is, even though we later found out that Stephanie’s parents would be hearing details they’d never known about from the comfort of the seats at the Victory Gardens Biograph (oy vey!), it was Stephanie’s wish to get it all out: that’s why she auditioned with that particular essay. Tracey and I had the epiphany through all of this that we are like train conductors (or cab drivers, or airline pilots), just getting everybody and their stories where they need to go.

We were beyond delighted to learn that, after the show, Stephanie got a special gift from a stranger:

“Thank you to the petite brown haired woman who found me in the lobby after the show and thanked me. You have no idea of how much I needed you to say that. How much I needed a stranger to come up and let me know that what I said was heard.” (Read the full blog post about her experience here.)

Being heard: it’s perhaps the biggest benefit of being a LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER cast member.

There are lots of others, too. Have you submitted your essay yet? The deadline is January 15 (this Tuesday!). Submission guidelines and further information about what happens next can be found here. We’ve received lovely and awesome essays so far, but maybe we’re waiting for YOURS.

Carla @ All of Me Now January 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

This was just beautiful and exactly why LTYM is so very valuable!

Melisa January 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Thanks, Carla! 😉

Stephanie K January 9, 2013 at 10:46 am

Oh with the weepy tears this morning. Thanks for the love.

Melisa January 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Thank YOU!
And stop crying. 🙂 xoxo

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: