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*)


“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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