ROGERS — When Lela Davidson first heard about Listen To Your Mother (LTYM), a national series of live readings in celebration of Mother’s Day, she knew she had to bring the production to Northwest Arkansas.
Davidson had a hunch that this type of production would garner much support in the region. First of all, there’s nothing else like it in the area. Second, the region is home to stellar arts performances, great writing and a large mom/women’s blogging community.
Davidson says she is drawn to LTYM because it “gives an opportunity to people who may not have another outlet for their writing. Every mom has a million stories and this is a community celebration of Mother’s Day.”
Her first encounter with LYTM was through Wendy Aarons, director of the Austin, Texas, production of LYTM. She was put in touch with the show’s founder and national director, Ann Imig of Madison, Wis., where the production originated and host of an annual LYTM show. Over the course of a year, Davidson emailed Imig regularly asking — or as Davidson puts it, “begging” — Imig to bring the show to Northwest Arkansas.
Davidson’s lucky break came in August when she met Imig at a BlogHer conference in San Diego. BlogHer, a community and media company created in partnership with women in social media, is also a sponsor of the national organization of LYTM.
Cities with LYTM productions include New York; Chicago; Austin; Madison; Washington, D.C.; Spokane, Wash.; San Francisco and Philadelphia. Davidson jumped at the chance to add Northwest Arkansas to list when Imig put a call out for new locations. She was named producer of the local show in November.
"The idea that a national event held in cities like New York, San Francisco and Austin is going to happen in our little corner of Arkansas is thrilling," said Stephanie McCratic, Davidson’s assistant director. A smattering of LYTM performances from around the country can be seen here.
“This will give some of the fantastic writers and bloggers in our area once-in-a-lifetime exposure thanks to the LTYM YouTube Channel. It's just so stinking cool," McCratic added.
She and Davidson are hard at work bringing the local production to fruition. The performance will be 2 p.m. April 29 at the Walton Arts Center’s Starr Theater.
Both women are bloggers and are looking forward to bringing other writers’ work to the public. More than 40 women submitted information to be in LTYM. After auditions, a cast of 14 writers from Arkansas and northeastern Oklahoma were selected: Davidson, McCratic, Shannon Magsam, Jasmine Banks Brown, Kerri Case, Heather Davis, Jill Van Trease, Angie Albright, Kyran Pittman, Gwen Rockwood, Jocelyn Morelli, Misti Pryor, Shannon Hahn, and Kelly Zega. Their tales of motherhood range from funny to tearful.
Tickets are $18 and available through the Walton Arts Center box office.