Listen to Your Mother Returns After 3-Year Hiatus; Still Some Open Spots for Auditioners

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From Brooke Lefferts: 

After a three year hiatus, the “Listen to Your Mother” show will return to the Woodland, stitching together a new quilt of stories about all the complexities of motherhood. A beloved SOMA Mother’s Day weekend tradition, the spoken word show will be back on Saturday, May 13 with a new cast of readers sharing intimate stories on motherhood—some heartbreaking, some hilarious, but all resonating with audiences.

Auditions for a new cast will be held this weekend, February 11 and 12.

The show was the brainchild of a Wisconsin writer named Ann Imig who wanted to gather people together to read written pieces about motherhood as a way to share all the different ways having a mother or being one affects who we are. The show took off and was produced in cities all across the country and even one in Canada.

Co-producer/directors Sandy Rustin and Deborah Goldstein auditioned and got cast in the New York City show a year apart from each other, never crossing paths. But in 2013, the two LTYM alums were introduced by a mutual friend in SOMA and decided they should bring the show to North Jersey. Rustin – an actor, playwright and mom of two boys – lives in Maplewood, and Goldstein – an audio and video producer, writer and mom of two boys – lives in South Orange.

The first LTYM North Jersey show was at SOPAC in 2014, bringing together writers from all over the state and some from New York City. Rustin and Goldstein asked me to audition that year and I instantly refused, citing intense stage fright and lack of confidence in my work. I probably would have continued to resist but it just so happened I had written a piece called “Freedom in a Fitting Room,” about how my mother used to try to influence my clothing choices until I grew up and made my own. The essay had been rejected by several women’s magazines and was collecting dust until Rustin and Goldstein cajoled me into stepping up to a music stand and reading it for them. They cast me in the show and for the next several months I woke up in a cold sweat, terrified of what it would be like to read my words onstage in front of a large audience. I even went to the doctor and had beta blockers prescribed so I could get through it.

On the day of the show—in a new wrap dress I bought without any influence from my mom—I took the stage and read the story and couldn’t believe how fantastic it felt when people laughed and applauded. I was hooked.

Rustin and Goldstein then asked if I wanted to help produce the show the following year and the rest is history. We gained a lifelong friendship and creative support team. The show got bigger each year and sold out so quickly, we added a second performance to the one-day only event. Readers enjoyed getting the chance to perform twice and it allowed us to share it with more people. Each year when the show is over, we get texts and see social posts saying how much the show resonated and that it was a gift to the community, which keeps us coming back.

In 2020, we had just cast 12 readers for the show when the pandemic hit. We were forced to have our first rehearsal over Zoom—which at the time felt very weird and wrong, not normal like it does now! And as the reality of the threat of Covid set in, we realized we’d have to postpone the show, and eventually cancel. Those readers will get a chance to audition again this year as we create a new show that we hope incorporates some of what we’ve been through in the last three years.

“We are so proud that The Listen to Your Mother Show has become an annual tradition within the Maplewood/South Orange community,” Rustin says. “ We missed the show, we missed the audiences, we missed the camaraderie over the last few years. It’s a thrill to be able to take to the stage again this spring to shine a light on local storytellers, neighbors, and friends.”

If you have a compelling, well-written story to tell, please come audition! There are a few spots left. Check out our website for details.

And mark your calendars! The ”Listen to Your Mother” show will play at the Woodland on May 13th at 3pm and 7pm. Tickets will go on sale in April.

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