Friday, May 6, 2011

Listen To Your Mother

Shortly after Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech, accepted his academy award, Ann Imig took to her Facebook wall to announce a unique connection. “Listen to Your Mother”, the advice of the Oscar winner, was also the buzz in mom blogging, as Ann in Madison, and her team in four other cities, prepared a series of live performance by the same name.

Listen to Your Mother” is Ann Imig’s theatrical creation. As National Director, she oversees what the website describes as “live readings by local writers on the beauty, the beast, and the barely-rested of motherhood, in celebration of Mother's Day. Born of the creative work of mothers who publish on-line, each production is directed, produced, and performed by local communities, for local communities.”

Performances in Austin and Los Angeles ran last weekend, but it’s not too late to head to the Saturday performance in Valparaiso, Indiana, or this Sunday’s performances in the towns of Madison, Wisconsin, or Spokane, Washington, depending, of course, on where you spend your Mother’s Day.

Ann Imig, National Director
and Stay-at-Home Humorist
Ann took a few minutes away from planning this year’s Madison show to answer some questions via email. You'll discover why she goes by another title besides “National Director” of LTYM. She is also, by trade and training, a Stay-At-Home Humorist.

1. It sounds like the original idea sought to bring together the voices and material of mom bloggers. It appears to have expanded—can you speak to that in terms of what material you saw being submitted and by whom for 2011?

LTYM is born of blogging and women who create online. My original idea was to bring a taste of the vitality of the blogosphere to my real life community, and provide an opportunity for people to voice their stories. At the time I felt a disconnect between my fertile online creative life and my mom life at home. I wanted people in my community who'd never heard the word blog, to get to experience a bit of the energy, opportunity, and support I've received through meeting other parents and creative people online. I wanted to give my community something beyond brunch for Mother's Day.

This year the director/producers and I worked hard to explicitly invite non-moms to audition. Everyone has a mom, or someone who took on that role. Plenty of women want to be moms and cannot, or don't want to and have something to say about it. Thank God that raising children does not fall exclusively under women's jurisdiction anymore, and we even have a few men in our productions this year.

My goal is that as LTYM grows the diversity of voices will grow as well.

2. As a Stay-at-Home Humorist, what is it about motherhood that you find not funny?

The pee smell ingrained in the boys' bathroom drywall is Not Funny. The fact that my boys draw pictures of “mommy dying” when they are mad is Not Funny. When people ask what my children's favorite hobbies are and they answer “Computer. Iphone. Video games.” That is SO NOT FUNNY. But see? It's all funny. Humor is desperation mixed with rage with some of those yummy nonpareils on top.

3. You are the National Director of LTYM—as it’s grown and continues to grow—what have you needed to do to keep up? For example, do you have regional producers/directors agree to certain production values, sign contracts, etc, have you had to turn to a lawyer, or business manager for some details?

Lately I picture LTYM as the speed boat pulling me at 30 mph while I try to get up on waterskis for the first time. 2011 year is a beta year—meaning we do a lot of figuring out as we go. I hired Deb Rox of 3 Smart Girlz, LLC as my business development strategist. I began by writing a 5 page document laying out the roles and responsibilities to the extent I could, and sent it to each prospective director and producer before they joined the project. Everyone I chose had watched the show, had expressed interest in doing it in their community, and were people I knew through blogging and trusted could honor my original vision. We have ongoing conversations about creative process, procedure, and production values, and I'm trying to document and analyze as we go. I'm beyond thrilled and grateful that BlogHer came on as our national media sponsor, because that funding allows me to begin building an infrastructure and prepare for a second year of even greater growth.

4.Ten percent of the proceeds of each show go to specific charities. How are these chosen?

I chose V-Day's City of Joy as our national charity because I felt so inspired reading about Eve Ensler's work with survivors of gender violence in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. I could not conceive of a greater need than supporting these women being ravaged on a routine basis, and all the directors and producers supported my choice. Each local show chose their own local charity, which I vetted against LTYM's mission.

5. What did it feel like after the first performance?

Immediately following 2010's premier LTYM production, the lobby vibrated with energy and joy. The audience seemed bonded by hearing the motherhood experience celebrated aloud. My sister Rachel came over to hug me and said “I didn't know I needed that, but I really needed that.” A colleague of one of the women in the cast reported that the show caused her to go home and write—for herself and only herself—for the very first time. Moms, Dads, and Grandmas, Daughters and Great-Grandmas were taking photos and hugging. I've experienced plenty of after-performance lobby crowds, but nothing could compare to the celebration of motherhood that continued from the theater into the community that day. Rachel heard people talking about it in three different situations the next day—and none of them knowing it was her sister's show.

At the rate it's growing, this mom blogger thinks LTYM is coming to a town near you, very, very soon.....

Lunch Box Mom on Philly TV
starting this Monday, May 9th
the Premier of the new NBC Philadelphia NONSTOP show:
Sandwich Moms
with anchor, Renee Chenault-Fattah
Catch the regularly featured segments with Renee and Sarah
 discussing some of the most timely LBM posts and topics
 Sandwich Moms premiers this Monday, May 9 at 8:30am, with repeats at 1:30pm, as well as 1:30am and 4:30am for those with sleep schedules like mine. NBC Philadelphia Nonstop airs on: Comcast channel 248, Verizon Fios 460 and Over-the-air at 10.2


Ann Imig said...

Sarah, it is an honor to be featured on your blog! Thank you for giving LTYM the spotlight.

A huge congrats on your show! I hope we can catch episodes on a Sandwich Youtube channel?

Happy Mother's Day!

anymommy said...

What a fabulous interview. Love it. Love Ann. I am so honored to be a part of the "beta" LTYM year!

parenting ad absurdum said...

Awesome interview - I love this series!! And you are everywhere, Mama, I'm proud of - you totally deserve it. A Youtube channel would be a great idea...

Re: favorite hobby and video games - a friend of mine's five-year old son (whose family spends the weekend camping, hiking and doing many amazing kid-focused activities) told his mom "my life is boring compared to video games!"

Oh, and tx so much for going over to Momtastic to leave me a note - I appreciate it and trust me, you are not the only one that has trouble with the PI site - v. frustrating!! I love your comments and would be sad to miss them.