By Amy Wilson
Auditions begin next week for Listen To Your Mother: NYC . We can’t wait! This year we have over eighty people auditioning, which is mind-boggling. Having done this last year, we already know how privileged we will be to hear the stories those eighty people have to tell. You can find the details here.
Maybe you are one of those auditioners yourself, and you’re currently wondering what in the world you’re going to read for us (or second-guessing what you have picked). Here are a few frequently asked questions we get, and what we hope are some helpful answers.
WHAT ARE THE SHOW’S PRODUCERS LOOKING FOR?
We’re casting a show of about fourteen readers who have stories to tell with motherhood as its centerpiece. It’s not enough to mention the word “mother” a few times; motherhood (yours, your mother’s, a friend’s) or the absence thereof needs to be what the story is about.
The stories that are chosen will fit together in some kind of flow. Some will be funny, some sad, some both. But we have no preconceived notions going into auditions, no slots to fill or boxes we’re looking to check. The most successful story you can tell is the story only you can tell.
BUT YOU’RE REALLY ONLY LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WITH A LOT OF ONSTAGE and/or WRITING EXPERIENCE, RIGHT?
We’re looking for compelling stories that are told compellingly. And that comes from a variety of sources. Last year, we had experienced actors who had never performed anything they’d written themselves, and experienced writers who had never been onstage. We also had incredible stories told by people who’d never done anything like this, ever. But everyone was leaving his or her comfort zone in one way or another. That’s what we’re looking for.
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT THING TO READ?
Once again, bring in the story that is uniquely yours. Use your specific to get at what’s universal. Don’t tell us about what it’s like for all mothers; tell us what it’s like for you (or the mother in your story) on that day. Tell us a story that you love, or about that day you’ll never forget. Something that you feel strongly about. Something that you want people to hear said.
The New York Times published this extremely helpful checklist on how to submit an essay for their Lives column. We think everything they say is very helpful in choosing your LTYM story, as well:
DO I HAVE TO MEMORIZE MY PIECE?
No. Even the show on May 12th will be a reading.
DO I HAVE TO “ACT” MY PIECE?
If you’re not someone with a lot of performing experience, you may feel like you’re supposed to do something to “help” your material. But anyone with a lot of performing experience will tell you that it’s just the opposite: read simply and truthfully. Don’t feel the need to embroider. You and your words are enough.
DOES IT REALLY HAVE TO BE 3-5 MINUTES?
Yes. Please check the length of your piece at home before coming in- you may be surprised! 400-500 words is plenty. Your audition slot will not allow for a piece that runs too much longer. We want to have time to hear your piece and with the time left over, find out a little bit about you.
IF I’M NOT CAST, THAT MEANS YOU HATED ME. RIGHT?
We have eighty people auditioning for about fourteen slots, and we can already say with confidence (and regret) that there will be many terrific stories that we love that nonetheless won’t be included in the final show lineup. Each story that we are able to include contributes one square to the patchwork quilt that is the show. The stories have to work not just on their own, but as part of that whole. Just remember this: we are so eager to hear the story you have to tell us. We are rooting for each one of you.