Listen To Your Mother North Jersey 2016 took its final bow on Saturday. If only we could keep telling our stories for days to come. Mother’s Day helped distract us from post-LTYM show blues. Many of us were being recognized with flowers, favorite foods, and perhaps fewer clean up duties. And we all continued to share photos and comments on Facebook to try to relive the day.
The days after show day are always a complicated combination of floating on the praise and sense of accomplishment…and disappointment that after all the time and energy spent, the experience is over in a flash.
Our North Jersey LTYM 2016 cast took their duties as storytellers seriously. They practiced, memorized, and beautified to ready for the big day. They worried just enough to stay focused and committed.
We had a morning rehearsal on the main stage of SOPAC on show day, tinkering with blocking, lighting and last minute word pronunciations. And laughs… this group laughs a lot.
After an afternoon break, we regrouped in the green room to coo over outfits and hug out pre-show nerves. We signed show posters as keepsakes and exchanged gifts and compliments. After a few last minute stage directions, Sandy– one of our fearless leaders– gathered the group for a pep talk.
She told this lucky group of 13 that the night is important for us, but also for the audience. You never know who needs to hear what you have to say. You don’t know how your words can touch someone else and make them feel comforted, less isolated in their feelings, and perhaps even inspired to write down their own story.
Susan Johnson from the charity we chose to benefit this year told our audience about the great work they do before the show started. COPE helps provide quality behavioral health-care and outreach services that are affordable and accessible to individual, family, and community needs.
When the time came, the cast delivered. Their performances were practiced, but their reactions were organic and often emotional, even after reading the stories aloud several times. The audience was eager and generous with laughs and applause– sometimes in unexpected places.
We provide tissues to audience members and they were used! The moving stories–ranging from a birth mother searching for her adopted daughter, to caring for a mother with dementia, to the terrifying disappearance of an autistic son — gripped the crowd. But there were lighter moments too, enhanced by the cast members playing up their best lines.
There wasn’t much time between shows but we had to move spaces to SOPAC’s Loft, a much more intimate setting. It was interesting to see how the crowd reacted differently to the stories, and how each reader slipped into their groove, after shaking off the initial uneasiness of performing the first time.
And then its was over.
All good things come to an end, but we’re looking forward to a cast reunion in the summer and the debut of our YouTube videos in a few months.
Whether producer, reader, or listener, LTYM is a special experience that stays with you for a long time. Sharing powerful stories allows us to reflect and tap into the humanity that connects us all.
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