Join Us at Alverno’s Pitman Theatre on 4.26.15 at 3PM!

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Rehearsing, Readthroughs and Dinner

by rochellefritsch on March 23, 2015

My uncle was the best storyteller. He’d regale us with Sunday Dinner Stories of his Mama Sara and growing up in Tennessee. Sometimes, it’d just be pure fictional silliness, like the time his frenemy “Blue” had enough of his teasing and bashed his head in with a brick. He was a master of hyperbole and comedy. Somehow, we all ended up in stitches over his stitches.

Other times, my great aunt, a Jehovah’s Witness, would join us after a Kingdom Hall Sunday meeting. Inevitably the doorbell would ring with Jehovah’s Witnesses witnessing. On my way to answering the door, I’d tell my mom “It’s Jehovah’s Witnesses” and just as I’d open the door, my mom would yell “Tell ‘em we got one already!” I’d die a slow embarrassing death looking into the innocent eyes of the witnesses while everyone at the table laughed. Including my great aunt.

After dinner, we’d end up in the living room around the upright Mason piano adorned with our baby pictures and miscellaneous sheet music. My uncle plunked out songs, and my sister led the singing with her soaring soprano. My brothers, mom, dad (on a good day) and me –  ears plugged so I could sing harmony without straying onto the melody — would join in the chorus.

I never realized I missed those stories, the singing and that time until today. Alexandra and Jen invited me to join them as a co-producer for Milwaukee’s Listen to Your Mother Show, and our rehearsals are, ironically, on Sunday. The cast is seated at a table, not for dinner, but to tell their stories, have their stories be heard, and to bear witness to each other’s stories.

Like back in the day of the after church dinners, the Jehovah’s Witness doorbell still rings, but instead of the doorbells, it’s drills and out-of-doors construction; a kindergartner’s loud-whisper; a new baby’s coo-singing, and our irrepressible sniffles and giggles in response to each other’s stories and all of the above.

baby

It’s really what my family was doing all those years ago. I just didn’t have a clue that that’s what we were doing nor did I have a name for it. I don’t know if I have a name for it now, to tell you the truth.

What I do know is that life is just a narrative that feeds the soul in one way or the other, just like the stories around our Sunday dinner table. Listen to Your Mother is a chance to counter the harsh, frightening narratives of news outlets that feed isolation and hopelessness.

Today, I heard funny, hopeful, sad, joyful, tragic and longing narratives that fed community and togetherness. It was like having Sunday dinner all over again.

Cast

And I was hungry for it.

Thanks for inviting me to the table, LTYM.

 

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Why We Listen

by Alexandra on March 16, 2015

CastCollage (800x533)

It’s been six years that I’ve known of Listen To Your Mother Shows. I have been involved in this live story telling national event either as cast member, audience member, or production team since 2010. What I’ve witnessed is nothing short of a transformation in the people who both hear our stories, and those who tell their stories.


Listening is different from talking.

Community is fostered when we hear and learn of the lives of our neighbors. Strength can be found in shared laughter when we support the experience of another. Healing can begin from being present for another’s words.

We’ve all leaned in, across steaming cups of coffee and shared intimate moments from our lives to friends. Our words then are spoken. They glide, other times they trip, freed or haltingly let go from our tongues. But when we tell of who we are in the grand action of standing before those who are unknown, we soul search for just the right words. Our words then are carefully chosen, our lines from our work read again and again. And with each time that we go back and strike through, to illustrate once more, highlight and reinforce yet again, we grow stronger.

Listening is an experience.

Over the past three years that Milwaukee Listen To Your Mother has held its auditions, we never knew the stories we would hear. Auditionees enter our room for their reading slot, and we as producers listen. We put our pens and pencils down, and focus. We hear the words, we become aware of the voice when it changes, we hear the rush to get through some parts, and we sense the electricity in passages that sum up everything they hope to convey.

Listening is participation in life.

Our lives, when we turn them over and inspect them, require us to step out and then back in. We reflect, and try to explain, who we are and why we’ve chosen to tell about that experience. Hearing these stories from the people that come read to us, confirms there is no one else like us. Our words celebrate that. Our pen-written and key-stroked stories are our experiences, our reflexes, our reactions. Our Us.

We go back in our minds and hearts, and we live through it once more, to bring that moment full and shining, to a communal experience. We speak, and in that act, we experience the moment again. But this time, when we share our words, we are not alone.

Our Listen To Your Mother auditionees come to us, bravely bringing an offering of themselves. That always overwhelms me. We gather, we share, we listen, we hear. There is a stillness in the process that doesn’t come from quiet. After someone reads, we are silent. We have heard what they have given to us. And we honor that with a moment intent on them. It’s how we say thank you.

I wish everyone in the world had the opportunity of five minutes to be heard, uninterrupted and without questions. Just them, their story, their life. And our silence. With the microphone that is an audience.

Listening validates an existence.

Telling our stories transforms us. We stand taller and see ourselves as someone worth sitting down and listening to. Our readers walk in the door, shaking and cautious, exuberant and eager, bursting and ready. No matter the way, they share the same motive at their core, the chance to be heard.

We hope we left you feeling that way, Milwaukee auditionees: heard. And affirmed.

Listening is bearing witness to life.

Come witness this power at Milwaukee’s Listen To Your Mother Show, April 26.

Thank you, Milwaukee auditionees, for your Listen To Your Mother stories. Your life stories touched us, moved us, made us laugh, smile, and took us into your world. Your aching honesty, brave vulnerability, and courageous sharing will always leave us amazed.

Listening, grows a heart for each other.

Jen
Rochelle
Alexandra
Listen To Your Mother/Milwaukee

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First Rehearsal, Forever Connections

March 10, 2015

Between hushed introductions and the occasional giggle was the quiet hum of nerves, curiosity, excitement and anticipation. This was our first rehearsal. Our first chance to connect to each other and our stories. As the cast of Milwaukee’s Listen to Your Mother Show went round-robin around the table with formal introductions and saying what brought them here to tell their stories, we could feel the ice — the nerves — melting, much like the weather that day. They were connecting with each other; and as producers, Jen, Alexandra and I were connecting with them, remembering what it’s like to step out on faith and tell a story before strangers that before had only been told to ourselves and cyberspace. Yet, here they were, ready to tell their stories and ready to listen to each others’ stories. And they did. Each spoke their truths, and we all listened, laughed, cried, blushed…and connected. The bravery […]

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Tickets Are Available

March 6, 2015

Alexandra, Rochelle and I are so excited to announce that tickets are available now for our Third Annual Listen To Your Mother Show Milwaukee! Mark your calendars for Sunday, April 26th, 2015 (two weeks before Mother’s Day) at 3:00 p.m. at the Pitman Theatre on the beautiful Alverno College campus right in the heart of Milwaukee at 3431 South 39th Street.  We look forward to seeing you there. Please click here to take you to the online ticket sales for our event. Tickets are General Admission and cost $15.00 each with a $1.52 service fee. A huge thank you to the local sponsors who have joined us so far: Dave Didier, Metroparent, Orphonic Multimedia, SHOP, and The Village Printer.  We could not put on our show without your support. 10% of ticket proceeds will be donated to Strong Baby, a campaign of United Way Greater Milwaukee & Washington County.  Strong Baby is focused on improving conditions that lead to poor […]

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Introducing Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee’s 2015 Cast!

February 26, 2015

LTYM Milwaukee is proud to announce our cast for our third annual production of Listen To Your Mother! We are thrilled to introduce: Elaine Maly Anna Stone Michelle Dobbs Liza Cohen Moira Sennett Katy Meyer Nicole Smith Mary Steinert-Ng Raina Johnson Jack Douthitt Leana’ Cristiana Grimm Alexandra Rosas (co-producer) Congratulations to our 2015 Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee cast! Thank you to all who came to audition and for sharing your stories of the humorous and the harried, the heartfelt and the honest. We feel honored that you shared your truth with us. More details of our show to come. Ticket sales will be announced here. Remember to save the date, Sunday April 26, 2015, 3PM at Alverno College’s Pitman Theatre. Milwaukee, you are in for a treat when you come to hear the stories from our cast of the 2015 Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee show! We hope to see you April […]

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