Cast Spotlight on Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

by Tracey on April 27, 2016

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is definitely “dedicated” to the LTYM mission and the epitome of “just keep swimming!” 

4th Time’s a Charm

My own mother raised me on the old adage (first heard in the 1800’s) “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” I heard it most when I was a frustrated toddler whose ambitions exceeded my abilities. When I became a mother of two I trotted it back out for them… frequently.

Now that my two are teens, it’s mutated into you’ve got this, keep trying, don’t give up, you’re not a quitter, or other variations on that theme. They hate to hear it just about as much as “Google it” and “Practice”, the other two frequent phrases in my mothering repertoire that give them fits. I can only hope that my words of wisdom sunk in there somewhere in my kids’ subconscious, and they’ll resurface as a little voice in their heads in times of need.

By the time you’re raising teens, they hide beneath headphones and don’t want to listen to their mothers. So, emotional and financial support, lots of room to grow, a space to speak and be heard with respect, and leading by example are some of the last gifts I have to give them while they still live at home. That’s one reason I still came back to audition for Listen to Your Mother after 3 years of auditions and missing the final cut. It’s scary to put yourself out there and not get chosen, but it’s far worse to stop trying!

Four years of auditioning for LTYM has challenged me to write my stories, and get in touch with what’s important and of value to me. I can’t give you many spoilers about my 2016 piece, but it’s very Chicago based and deals with a time so scary and intense it literally took me 8 years of silence before I could revisit that time and write about it. At first I hadn’t planned to audition at all, then I planned to write an entirely different piece. When the call for LTYM submissions went out, though, this piece came pouring out and I hit send before I could chicken out. Next thing I knew, I was in the cast and heading for a public reading at The Athenaeum May 1 at 2pm! This piece has a mind of it’s own and wanted a voice. And it couldn’t be more timely.

If you want to get to know me a bit better, here’s a trail of breadcrumbs in my past Listen to Your Mother audition links below:


The inaugural year of Listen to Your Mother in Chicago, I was invited to audition and went with the writer’s adage, Write What You Know. I’m thrilled to be raising a mighty grrrrrrrl who detests pink, refuses to wear dresses or skirts, fights for what’s fair, stands up for herself, and embraces her strength as a gymnast. Check out Raising The Anti-Princess HERE:


I know a number of women who have had home births, but I’m THE only one I know that has labored and delivered with 3 big dogs as part of the birth team. They howled along with me during transition and it was one of the most empowering moments of my life. Read about how the dogs cued up by age and gently greeted my newborn son with kisses, and how my doctor, who delivered babies all over Alaska by hydroplane, highly recommends birthing with dogs. Check out Member of the Pack: Giving Birth With Dogs HERE:


I braved up and wrote something embarrassing and vulnerable, but funny too, then almost hoped I wouldn’t be picked to read it aloud in public! This is my all too true tale of being mistaken for my kids’ GRANDMOTHER and being repeatedly asked when I was due, while NOT remotely pregnant, sometimes all in the same day! Check out Pregnant Grandma HERE:


No, I didn’t chicken out. I had conflicts with the show and rehearsal dates, so I took a year off.


It was incredibly moving hearing the other 10 cast members plus Chicago producers, Tracey and Melisa, reading their pieces. This show runs the gamut from laugh out loud funny to heart wrenching, sometimes in the same piece. There are stories about being mothers and about our mothers. There are embarrassing moments, strength, fear, sadness, joy, and a wealth of wisdom and emotion in these 13 stories. I am humbled and honored to share the stage with this group of writers. I hope you can make it to the show, or catch it on line if you’re not in Chicago on the afternoon of May 1st, 2016.


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