Mothers & Monologues

‘Listen To Your Mother’ event set for May 9 at Lamar’s University Theater

The cast of “Listen To Your Mother,” back row from left, Jennifer Williams, Nicole Huffman Hollins, Betty Davis Pruitt, Andy Coughlan, Summer Lacy, Christina Morales, Lauren Van Gerven and Elaine Alguire. Front row from left, Tiara Little, Tassie Kelas Hewitt and Donna Gail Ellis.

The cast of “Listen To Your Mother,” back row from left, Jennifer Williams, Nicole Huffman Hollins, Betty Davis Pruitt, Andy Coughlan, Summer Lacy, Christina Morales, Lauren Van Gerven and Elaine Alguire. Front row from left, Tiara Little, Tassie Kelas Hewitt and Donna Gail Ellis.

Authentic.

That is the best way to describe the celebration of motherhood that is, “Listen to Your Mother,” a live reading performance sweeping the nation.

“‘Listen to Your Mother’ is live readings by local writers — they are reading their stories that they wrote about motherhood,” Jennifer Williams co-director of the Southeast Texas LTYM, said.

The performance will be held May 9, in the University Theatre at Lamar. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program.

Williams said that LTYM started when founder Ann Imig noticed there were not a lot of events that celebrated Mother’s Day.

“So she decided to start this show and that is where it kind of blossomed into what it is now,” Williams said.

“My friend Elaine (Alguire) and I had a couple of friends that did the Austin show, and that is how we originally heard about it a few years ago. We sent in a piece and we didn’t get an audition, so the next year we decided to have our own show.

“We applied and we know several people involved across the 39 cities, and we were able to get the show and bring it to Beaumont.”

Williams said she and co-director Alguire sent out audition requests to writers from as far away as Houston and Lafayette, La.

“They sent in their stories and they would come in and read for us,” she said. “From that, we selected the stories we wanted to show.”

The cast includes amateur and professional writers from all walks of life.

“It could be anything,” Williams said. “I started out blogging and my friend Elaine started out blogging, too. We also have Lauren Van Gerven, who is the editor of the University Press, and we had several people in the area who like to write. We also have a few people in the cast this year who are part of the Houston Writers Guild.”

Williams said that mothering can be thankless.

“You do a lot and you don’t get a lot of recognition, and the show really recognizes all that motherhood encompasses — from the very highs to the very, very lows,” she said. “It is a way to let mothers know that they are not alone and they are not the only ones who are going through these problems.”

Williams said that motherhood connects everyone, even those who are not mothers, and the show reflects all those experiences.

“It connects us. Even if you are not a mother, it gives you insight into what being a mother is all about,” she said.

LTYM is a half live show, Williams said.

“We do the stage, and everything is recorded and put on YouTube afterward, so it is half social media event as well,” she said. “So we don’t just connect with the immediate audience at the show, but we are also able to connect with everyone else who watches the video after the show.”

Summer Lacy is part of the Houston contingent in the show.

“Motherhood is something we can all talk about, laugh about, cry about — either from the perspective of being a mother or from the perspective of having a mother,” she said. “On one hand, motherhood is such a common experience, but on the other hand, it can be such an isolating experience. Us mothers can be hard on ourselves and each other. We can judge quickly and harshly, we sometimes compete and compare.

“That made it all the more meaningful to sit in a room full of people from such different backgrounds, with such a vast array of experiences, and to laugh and cry together over the one thing we all have in common — motherhood.”

Cast member Christina Morales said she is deeply touched by the men and women who are participating in the event.

“The stories make me feel everything in the range of a heart-swelling joy to a soul-tearing sob,” she said. “These are real people with real situations that create what is, in the end, an incredible message of hope — real hope, the kind that makes you giddy for what is to come.

“A world full of this much hope is an exciting place to live.”

Rounding out the cast are Donna Gail Ellis, Tassie Kelas Hewitt, Tiara Little, Nicole Huffman Hollins, Betty Davis Pruitt and Andy Coughlan. Ramona Young will emcee the show.

The event is sponsored by Divergent Theater, Whole Mothering Center and Flora Padilla Photography.

Williams said the show is something everybody can connect with.

“Everybody has a mom, everybody knows a mom, and everybody has some type of mom figure in their life whether they are good or not good — so everybody has a story about motherhood,” she said.

The show will start at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and are available at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1189043 or at the box office the day of the show.
For more information, visit listentoyourmother show.com/southeasttexas, or like the Listen To Your Mother-Southeast Texas Facebook page.

By Kyle Swearingen

ISSUE Contributor

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