Five years ago a blogger in Wisconsin, Ann Imig, arranged to present a bunch of mothers on stage talking about, well, motherhood.
It was a hit, and it caught on in other places. For three more years, Imig oversaw an expanding enterprise, an array of localized shows called “Listen To Your Mother,” then she sold the brand to a theater licensing company.
Two Charleston-area women, Becca Finley and Angie Mizzell, bought the rights to continue what had become a popular evening out, and at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, they will present the 5th annual “Listen To Your Mother” lineup at The Schoolhouse, 720 Magnolia Road, in West Ashley.
The show, which features a different group of monologists each time, now will be presented by a new organization called Charleston Storytellers, which in the months and years to come could devise additional programming, according to co-founder Mizzell. https://charlestonstorytellers.com/listen-to-your-mother/
More than 40 people auditioned for the upcoming show by reading an original essay on motherhood, Finley said. Ultimately, 14 were selected for this year’s presentation, a mix of men and women of all ages.
“Once we select them, it has a flow to it,” a flow honed by a few rehearsals, some coaching and some discreet editing, Finley said. “So it becomes a lovely process in which people can find commonality.”
The storytelling ranges from comical and lighthearted to very serious; topics can include death, abuse and the traumas of aging.
One presenter, the Rev. Arthur Holmes of Allen AME Church on Edisto Island, will share his thoughts on gratitude.
Holmes said he heard about “Listen To Your Mother” from a former student who remembered the pastor liked writing and excelled at oratory.
“When it comes to speaking about my mom, I’ve always been a little more passionate,” he said.
He developed his theme of gratitude when he heard his son, who will graduate from the College of Charleston this spring, express thanks to his mother for all the support she and Holmes have provided over the years — “which we think nothing of, because it’s what parents do,” Holmes said.
Considering his son’s perspective got him thinking about his own mother, and then writing about her, he said.
Whitney McDuff, a marketing director at a law firm and a West Ashley resident, will go first on Friday. She said becoming a mother 11 months ago at age 35 has infused her with “overwhelming joy.”
“I carried a lot of fear before I became a mother — that I didn’t have enough time or money or experience, all of those things we’re afraid of,” she said. “Being a parent is one of the most important jobs in the world. It took time to get ready.”
When little Holbrook was born, her fears subsided.
“It opened my eyes to the fact that I did have everything I needed,” McDuff said.
This embrace of motherhood will set the tone at the event, but those who follow will have their own particular stories to tell.
“It’s a really great opportunity to hear different perspectives on the experience of motherhood,” McDuff said. There are a lot of different stories, “yet once they’re told you discover how similar we all are.”
Other performers are Ali Anderson, Ashley I. Arinez, Sydney Barnett, Carolyn Click, Keith Dee, Katie DePoppe, Mary-Margaret Futch, Angela Gibson Goss, Dede Kennedy, Katherine Hanson, Helen Mitternight and Jackie Morfesis.
Finley said she and Mizzell hope to hit the road, and to develop a video series. Each monologue will be recorded and posted online.
“Ideally, what we’d like to do is go to other cities and hear other stories,” Finley said.