Monday, January 27, 2014

Picked Over: My Relationship With Listen To Your Mother

I am cross posting this on the LTYM NYC site. Many cities have auditions coming up soon and it can be a challenging time for both auditioners and proctors. Maybe my story can help. That's kind of what LTYM is all about. 

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LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER is in 32 cities this year and the submission and audition process has begun in earnest. I’m hearing a lot of folks say they couldn’t possibly audition. It’s hard for me not to dismiss people’s anxieties about trying something like this and just push you, like your least favorite aunt, to ignore your feelings and try. ‘You’ll regret not trying,” I’ll yell at you as you leap off my busily patterned couch, brushing cat hair off your behind and rush for the door.

Perhaps it would be more productive if I told you my story instead. LTYM is all about personal stories after all and the story of my relationship with this movement is three and a half years old now because in July of 2011 I went to an open mic hosted by this gorgeous blogger/mom/actress/writer/woman named Ann Imig in the middle of Blogher’s annual conference. The room it was held in was freezing but made warmer by the fact that it was packed with people who were hoping, in the brief few hours we had, to get up and share their voices.

I didn’t get picked.

When I happened upon Ann in a hallway between sessions the following day I screwed up my courage, gave her my card and improvised a stilted little speech about my qualifications in case she ever thought about bringing LTYM to NYC because, you know, I really admired it and all and I’m very good at a lot of things and I have experience with theatre and all so, you know, if there’s anything I can do please don’t, you know, hesitate to call...you know? Ann was very gracious and thanked me and we parted ways.

She never called.

What I didn’t know then is that a few hours before my SNL-meets-Your-Worst-Anxiety-Dream speech in that hallway Ann had hosted a breakfast for people interested in bringing LTYM to their city. Amy Wilson, Holly Rosen-Fink, and Varda Steinhardt, New Yorkers all, had been at that meeting taking the first steps to bring the show to our city.

I found out about the auditions for LTYM NYC 2012 quite late. With great trepidation I secured myself an audition time then wrote feverishly for a few days. I wrote about my Auntie Blanche and my good friend Alita and I printed out pictures to go with my speech and I edited and edited and edited to get the piece to time. I loved that piece. I loved it with all my heart as I love the two women it honors. I poured everything into it, I’m telling you. On the appointed day I arrived at the audition space early to put on some makeup and a bra, since I figured those two things might help to showcase my talent in a brighter light, and I worked hard to minimize the shaking in my hands and knees as I met the ladies of the panel. You know, I could have done better, but the writing was solid and I felt they truly saw me before my time was up.

I didn’t get in.

I’ll be honest, I was crushed. I got the no thank you email which made it clear that the shows are small and that each show tends to shape up in a way that tells an overall story so that rejection doesn’t mean the panel didn’t love a piece or a performer it just means that it didn’t fit for them at this time. Intellectually I knew that but emotionally, of course, all I saw was the word rejection in 48 point font, bold, italicized, and underlined. I’d tried. I hadn’t gotten in. I was done with them. Done I say!

Until, of course, I got the announcement for the show. I didn’t want to go, the wound was too raw. Then again, wouldn’t I be a big old baby if I didn’t go? I didn’t want these talented ladies to think I couldn’t take rejection like an adult. I should go. On the other hand, they didn’t really know me from Eve so how would they even know if I went and didn’t they have enough to do that they wouldn’t care one way or the other?

Finally, after just barely managing to get a ticket to the sold out event, I went. All by myself. I dressed up (bra and makeup!) and hiked uptown to peer through the fence at the playground I so desperately wanted to swing on. And you know, I saw right where they’d chosen a piece that would have been too close to mine in subject. I understood the story their cast members told as a whole and why it hadn’t been my time. Still, I wasn’t ever going to audition for LTYM again.

That summer at Blogher, though, I did go to the annual LTYM open mic. If I got picked that night I was going to read the piece that hadn’t made it into the NYC show. I didn’t get picked but as I was filling out my card to toss in the hat the woman running the table introduced herself as Holly, one of the producers of LTYM NYC. She remembered me and thanked me for auditioning and said she hoped they’d see me again the following year. Now that felt pretty damn good. I was memorable!

In 2013 I started earlier and I wrote a few pieces and, frankly, I didn’t love any of them quite as well as I loved the one I’d written in 2012. I honed the one I felt was most “me” and I went into the audition confident in the way one can only be when one doesn’t ever expect to get picked.

Guess what happened.

I got picked and I read my story in one of the biggest theatres I’ve ever had the pleasure of working in to a supportive and appreciative audience of hundreds. I was in the company of strangers who had become friends; brilliant women, writers, and storytellers. We laughed, we cried, we nodded in agreement...and then we took the stage!

This year I’ve been picked again. The LTYM NYC team has asked me to join them as a producer and I happily agreed. We’re scheduling auditions now and I know that the choices we’ll have to make will be heart wrenching. Fortunately I also know that not being picked isn’t the end of the world, sometimes it’s the beginning of something completely different.

9 comments:

  1. I'm so honored by all of these words. Thank you for your patience and generosity toward LTYM. I LOVE this: "Fortunately I also know that not being picked isn’t the end of the world, sometimes it’s the beginning of something completely different."

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    1. I'm excited to be part of the team. Really looking forward to this year!

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  2. well that's a hugely encouraging thing to read. peering over the fence i am, with the thing I'd planned on writing about obviously being wrong, so back to the drawing board but convinced i need to try this year. already blocked audition weekend on the calendar, now to ask for a spot, then to figure out which story to tell. trusting it will find me in the next 3 weeks!

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    1. there. email sent. whew.

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    2. Huzzah for email sent!

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  3. A very important post that cuts through all the unnecessary. Growth comes from pain and seeing beyond our emotion to what we can learn from something. I'd love to talk further, but Ill say here, your words, I hope the people that need to read and try again, find them. thank you.

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  4. Seriously. We are Practical Magic-ing it up again. We were *just talking about how to address this and I suggested we use you and your story. I woke up to see your post! BOOM. well done Sally. Well done.

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  5. Debbie in AZ11:19 PM

    You always have a way with words but this post was truly great! I have been reading your blog since your days at the Women's Colony and miss your voice over there now that it is gone. I think it would be great at Derfwad Manor as a guest post if you are interested in it. Your post has much to say that is applicable to any goal or life journey and would inspire and encourage lots of good women (and men) over there too. Just a thought...

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  6. Thanks - this does help a bit.

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