My earliest memory (surely faded by time and enhanced by imagination and photos) is of my mom taking a toddler-aged me out into our courtyard and sitting with other mothers in their 70’s garb chatting while the children play around them. My mother’s village, just steps out her door. Like the mothers before them, they talked and told stories; the stories of children and family, the stories of life.
Mothers are the keepers of our stories. The collectors of our history.
They used to gather in homes around tea, in churches around quilts and out in the courtyards. They shared those stories with each other and children heard them. We heard them, we listened, we learned. We learned that grandma once traveled with a circus, we learned about how hard it was when dad was traveling, and we laughed about the antics of a toddler.
Our village is spread out now. Strewn from one corner of the world to the next. Our village is noisier with 24 hours news, streaming shows and internet that never ends. It seems that everyone has stories but that no one hears them anymore. The stories of mothers need to be heard because they are our history and our future. The one thing every person on earth has in common is that they have a mother.
Ann Inmig has given motherhood the megaphone it needs to be heard since 2010 when she staged the first Listen To Your Mother show in Madison, Wisconsin. The show has grown and in 2014 it was produced in 32 cities. This year it will be in 39. I was a member of the inaugural Chicago cast in 2012 and it was an amazing experience. To stand on stage and read my words in front of people that were not only listening, but responded? When does that happen? Certainly not in a home full of toddlers.
What makes the Listen To Your Mother show even more special is that it is open to everyone and anyone. You don’t need to be a writer, a blogger, an actress or even a mother. You just have to have a story, and everyone has a story. One of my favorite pieces from our 2012 show was not by a mother, but by a son about his mother. I still choke up every time I watch it.
Beyond giving motherhood a voice, the shows go beyond the stage and gives a minimum of 10 percent of the sales raised through tickets to local charities that support parents and communities. Since 2010 the show has raised over $50,000 for charities.
This year’s Chicago Listen To Your Mother show will be on May 3 at the Athenaeum Theatre. The selection process for this year’s show starts on Friday, Jan. 9.The producers of the show will collect everyone and anyone’s stories of mothers, motherhood and mothering.
You can find full submission guidelines on the Listen To Your Mother Chicago page, but know there is no right or wrong story. I have laughed, cried, groaned and connected with just about every story told through the show. Stories by mothers, about mothers, for mothers.
Submissions will be collected through Jan. 22 and selected pieces will need to audition February 7-8. Pieces should be 5-6 minutes when read out loud (about two pages written).
You have a story that only you can tell. Will you tell it?