I’m having a little trouble.
I can’t really wrap my head around the whirlwind that was LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO last night.
I can’t keep using the word “amazing” and expect that
1. People will continue to take me seriously
2. People will believe that yes, I’m a writer
…but the fact is, everything about this experience (well, not everything: there were a few snags in the planning process but everything shook out in the end) WAS amazing.
I tend to be long-winded (or whatever that is in terms of writing), and although I can think of thousands of things to report to you about last night, I think it would be impossible, no matter how eloquently I were to write about it, to make you understand how it impacted me, how much I enjoyed it, how great I felt to have co-captained this ship successfully to its final port, or what it meant to me to see all fifteen of our cast members’ faces making eye contact with me and smiling from ear to ear each time Tracey and I gave them direction, pep talks, or post-show props.
And so, I think I will just give you snippets, my favorite little glimpses of the evening.
Seeing the marquee was something I’ll never forget. This is not photoshopped.
When Jen showed up at the theater in curlers, she had me in hysterics. “I can’t believe you came here in curlers,” I said. “Are you kidding me?” she said, “I even went to Walgreens with these!” I love her.
Showing the cast what the inside of the theater looks like–I’m pretty sure that Megan was the only one who had been there before–was something I won’t forget. Katy made a “Hoosiers” movie reference and just for the record Katy, I got it.
We had access to the theater for only 90 minutes before the show was supposed to start, and way more than 90 minutes’ worth of tasks to accomplish. The first hour was mostly a blur as everyone who needed to change clothes did, makeup was touched up, Jen took her curlers out, pictures were taken, and all kinds of other things happened.
In the half hour before the show started, I watched as our cast members dealt with their fears and stress over having to go on stage alone and read words–their own words, but still, they were preparing to give 300 people an intimate glimpse inside their hearts, exposing themselves to a room of mostly strangers. Some of them paced. Some of them walked away from the hustle-bustle of the dressing room, heading down the hall to go through their piece alone just one more time. Some felt nauseous. Some were panicking. Some were giving pep talks. What I think we all had in common was that we felt that we were a team. We were all in it together. The support backstage was incredible and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before.
There were seventeen chairs just offstage: behind a curtain so we couldn’t see the podium and the person (or people) speaking at center stage, but we could hear, loud and clear. We all sat there in the dark, listening. Tracey and I kept squeezing each other and taking mental pictures, and I was in awe of how fantastically each and every reader handled themselves.
Karen, who seemed to have had about 1,000 people in that 300-seat theater, judging by the noise her fans made, actually stopped in the middle of her piece to say, “This is fun!”
Brandie, who we think was still deciding whether she wanted to take the stage up until the moment she actually did it, read beautifully, and survived.
Alisha read her quiet piece “Walking Wild” with grace and had the audience under her spell.
I’m pretty sure that Jen decided about thirty seconds into her reading that she could possibly have a future as a stand-up comedian.
I loved watching–when Tracey went out to introduce a speaker–each person standing at the edge of the curtain, silhouetted against the stage lights shining around them, giving them a beautiful aura.
I loved hugging readers as they came off stage and I went out to introduce the next one, with whom I would high (or low) five or touch hands on their way out to the podium. As it turned out, and as no surprise to me, everyone was high fiving and hugging readers when they finished their part.
When the last reader had gone, we all took the stage for a final bow. The show seemed to have gone by in five minutes, and I didn’t want it to end.
Just off stage, we had a group hug. Everyone was jubilant, victorious. Our team won. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a competition: we kicked butt. In the dressing room, I told the cast a story that I had heard on Saturday at the ceremony in which D was inducted into his fraternity. It was a story about a man who was riding a bus while it was raining. As he watched the raindrops roll down the window, he noticed how one raindrop would roll into another, making a bigger raindrop. Then, after a moment, the big raindrop would split back into two and they continued rolling down the window alone. For the moment they touched, they left a trace of themselves with the other that would be a part of them forever. I told the cast that this experience and a part of them would be a part of me for the rest of my life. (*sob*) I am so thankful for each and every one of them.
Before we left, the cast presented Tracey and I with beautiful necklaces. I will treasure this.
Outside, on our way across the street to our “after party”, Tracey and I jumped for joy. How could we not?
I am forever changed by my involvement with LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. It has been a real labor of love, and I can’t wait for the videos to be posted on YouTube this summer, so you can enjoy what our audience saw. I’ll keep you posted.
Thanks to all of you who sent me emails, texts, and tweets, left messages on my Facebook wall, and called me to say “Break a leg!” Your support and encouragement meant the world to me.
In a word, it was amazing.