Is Listen to Your Mother a trend, a cult of blog followers, a national movement, or simply an idea that’s time has come?
Articles and mere mentions in New York Times, Huffington Post, and Chicago Tribune as well as the growing use of social media have certainly helped spread the word about Listen to Your Mother performances across the nation.
In May 2010, Ann Imig, a stay-at-home mom and blogger, had an idea: give motherhood a microphone in celebration of Mother’s Day. That idea resulted in a single performance in Madison, Wisconsin. Local blog writers were invited to read their work about motherhood before a live audience. The performance was video taped and when the video, in its entirety was later posted online and reached a global audience, the response was phenomenal.
What a brilliant idea, having everyday folks who have something to say grab the mic.
Soon writers in other cities wanted to participate in future shows and on Mother’s Day 2011 performances were also held in: Austin, Los Angeles, Madison, NW Indiana, and Spokane. And more shows were added the Listen to Your Mother Show channel on YouTube.
In 2012, with the expansion of performances now into ten states and first time productions in Chicago, Washington D.C, NW Arkansas, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, 140 new videos were added to the LTYM channel.
These Listen to Your Mother “performers,” are for the most part, non-professional writers, who simply have a story to tell, and they are bringing tears and laughter and a real following from those who just happened to see their performance, often the result of a Facebook post between friends. Husbands, and sons, as well as teenagers writers are among those experiencing small town as well as big city "celebrity" status.
Writers are invited to submit their "time-limited" story and local producers have to narrow their choices often from hundreds of entries. The writers of the stories chosen, are then invited to audition by reading their piece in front of several judges. From this group a cast of 12-18 performers are chosen. This cast, often scattered across a state, get to know and keep in contact with each other via social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and of course, their blogs. Many share stories about their auditions, but they are sworn to secrecy about their "story" until after the performance. The first time many of the writers meet face to face is at the one dress rehearsal, usually a week before the live performance.
Past stories cover such subjects as being raised by lesbian and gay parents, becoming a first time parent, the challenges of infertility, drug and alcohol abuse, and often the hilarious situations in which children unwittingly involve their mothers.
Now in 2013, three short years after that single first show in Madison, LTYM performances will take place in 24 states across the nation in celebration of Mother’s day. A portion from ticket sales is donated to local community charities that support mothers and children.
So, is this a trend, a cult of blog followers, a national movement, or simply an idea that’s time has come? You are invited make that decision yourself by either attending this year's live performance in a city near you, or by enjoying past performances at the LTYM channel on You Tube. And, if you are in Oklahoma City on May 5, you can watch one of PolicyMic’s own pundits perform live: me.