story by Jamie Smith
Motherhood is filled with many moments of laughter, tears and every emotion in between.
The national series of live readings from local writers for local communities named Listen To Your Mother (LTYM) features stories that celebrate motherhood and have made audiences laugh, cry and applaud. The show has grown to now feature a planned 24 shows throughout the United States in 2013, including Northwest Arkansas. This is the second year for NWA to host the show. (As of Nov. 27, the Northwest Arkansas date was not set.)
Anyone can audition to read for the show and their stories can be about anything related to motherhood, agreed co-producers Stephanie McCratic and Lela Davidson.
“You don’t have to be a professional writer or blogger. You just need to have a story to tell,” McCratic said. “Whatever it is, we just want to talk about motherhood.”
Casting calls for the NWA show are expected to be sometime in February and will be announced on the LTYM website. The website also features links to YouTube videos of readings from various shows.
Last year’s show – held April 29 in the Starr Theater at the Walton Arts Center – had a lasting impact on the cast and audience alike and is a positive event for the entire Northwest Arkansas community.
“The bonding experience is powerful and life-changing,” McCratic said of her experience on the cast. “You’re opening up and sharing a personal story. Any time we can get opportunities like this national show that lets us highlight women, open up and be who we are, it adds to the area.”
Davidson said she and McCratic are excited that the show is returning and the goal is to have all new people on the cast share their stories.
“It’s a community celebration of motherhood,” she said. “(After last year’s show) it was amazing how much of a community we had created among the cast. Some of these women I knew before, we’re friends now. We are a community among ourselves. That makes Northwest Arkansas better. We’re another piece of the village that is connected.”
Besides the emotional bonding, the show also provides much-needed funds for at least one local charity every year. The proceeds from the show are donated to a charity that has some kind of tie in to motherhood, Davidson said.
Amy James from Fayetteville was in the audience for the 2012 show and loved it.
“I had heard Listen to Your Mother described as stories from motherhood, so I was kind of thinking it would be lots of childbirth experiences and maybe a few "terrible two" ones thrown in for good measure,” she said. “I was so wrong! I came away laughing, crying, crying from laughing, and remembering that being a mom is so much more than spit up and dirty diapers.”
One of the newest shows to premier in 2013 is the Oklahoma City show. Two of its producers were a part of the 2012 Northwest Arkansas cast. Heather Davis from Bartlesville, Okla., and Misti Pryor from Oklahoma City, were both part of the inaugural Northwest Arkansas cast and they are joined by Julie Bohannon to produce the Oklahoma show.
“It’s such a cool way for writers and women to get their voices out there,” Davis said. “When I did it, I was able to share my story and have it out there on YouTube, etc. We had heard each other’s stories and there are so many different women on the show and so many different stories to share. We’re all very different but this one crazy thing called motherhood bound us all together. I’m not just sharing this with moms, I’m sharing this with the world.”
Pryor brought a unique voice to the Northwest Arkansas show in that she is not a mother. Her piece from the 2012 show was about the mothers who influenced her life and taught her important life lessons. She also spoke of how she still has many children in her life through friends and family.
“Mother’s day is an interesting day to not be a mother,” she said. “You have to get your head wrapped around it. It can either be painful or it can be a different choice. This is the way I was supposed to be.”
Davis and Pryor thought the LTYM show would be beneficial for Oklahoma. They had heard of the show before, but participating in the cast cemented the idea that it should come to Oklahoma.
“They are stories that need to be told,” Pryor said.