from Misti McClellan, OKC producer/director
Gorgeous photos courtesy of Sheradee Hurst Photography. All proceeds from the sell of LTYM: OKC photos will go directly to our local cause, Reach Out And Read Oklahoma
As I sat in my quiet house on Sunday night, in soft pants and my LTYM hoodie, I held our showbook in my lap and flipped through the pages of each story. Reflecting upon the day, and really wishing we could buy wine on Sunday in Oklahoma, I sat and replayed the entire experience in my mind.
I went back to our final production meeting where we once again signed on together for the 2015 year and began planning for it. I thought of that email from Heather upon my engagement announcement that asked, “You’re still going to do LTYM right?” and the lightening fast reply, “OF COURSE!”
I thought about our audition day, and reflected on all of the stories that we heard pour out of brave and wonderful people and how once again, we three, Julie, Heather and I wished we could just have a 24 hour show and cast everyone. In the end however the show just appeared, as it has the past years and we knew that it would be a transformative day of storytelling.
I remembered how cautiously we all were around each other at that first gathering. A few of our gracious and generous alumni were there helping to break the ice. Linda even brought her cake, which is now the LTYM Cake and has been present at all gatherings. I watched around the table and mentally sent strength and peace to each reader, willing them to be open to this experience.
I didn’t need to will them into anything. This group had a story to tell. They were in it for that reason and that reason only. Everything else was just bonus. They begin to interact online, we shared our stories and opened our hearts to one another and the threads that were once individual began to blend together, holding on to one another until we had the most gorgeous of quilts, offering comfort and protection.
I went through our show day, minute by minute. The quiet peace that had settled into my heart the previous day…that was new. I had such a peace about this show, this cast. Watching them all pile in the green room, taking their first steps onto the stage and working through the pain points of lighting and set design as we got everything just right.
Our alumni was there in full force, filling the seats set for them, smiling at us, offering the support, the “what can I do to help” and setting off to make it happen. I don’t know if I thanked them all, thanked them enough.
As I read through each story again, I saw the reader at the podium. Hands shaking, sometimes gripping the sides for support. Feet shuffling weight shifting, working to find that level of comfort as they stood vulnerable and open to an audience of unseen faces. The words of their stories moving out into the ether, touching hearts, leaving their mark on the world.
I saw them take a final bow, and move out into the audience to find their support group, to be enveloped in hugs and love and cheers and joy. To watch them reach for that connection and smile widely as they felt the love and the “Me Too Moments.”
The high fives and laughter and hugs between this cast as we all went separately out back into our real lives are perhaps my favorite moment of the day. What started out as this “thing” they all took a chance on, developed into a “THING” that will stay with them forever. The stories connect not only them, but those who heard the words.
What a powerful thing.
That is LTYM.