Listen To Your Mother is a series of live stage readings that is performed across the nation in 32 cities. Now in it’s fourth year, the Austin Listen To Your Mother show has gathered 15 talented local writers who will read about- you guessed it- motherhood!
Listen To Your Mother has become a Mother’s Day tradition in Austin and there are now two shows to choose from on Mother’s Day weekend: Thursday, May 8, 2014, from 7:00- 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, May 10, from 3:00- 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door. But don’t wait… they usually sell out. Both performances will take place at the AT&T Conference Center, 1900 University Ave., Austin.
For the past four years, women have taken to the stage to tackle their public speaking fears, conquer their demons by putting pen to paper as an all encompassing therapy, to share a story of inspiration for struggling mothers or to offer up a tale of motherly mishaps that make others charting the unknown road of motherhood a little more bearable by adding some humor to the day.
This year’s show features 15 talented women who will stand on stage to share their tales with you. Take a look at their bios below. I’m already inspired and excited to hear what they have in store for us!
Kim is the busy Mama to 6 children; 5 on earth and 1 in heaven. She and her husband moved to Austin from Utah 3 years ago and don’t miss winter a bit! Kim is passionate about home birth, cloth diapering, baby wearing, and breastfeeding. She has been known to have conversations with perfect strangers in the grocery store about these very topics! Kim has always had a love affair with words and after years and years of filling journals, she found the blogosphere in 2006. Her blog, Prairie Mama, is her little space to spill her thoughts about motherhood, grief, love, loss, and the perplexities of why her children don’t sleep.
Chicago native, stand up comedian and six-time Emmy Award winner, Margaret Smith is best known for her wry, acerbic delivery. You may have seen one of her many appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Show with David Letterman. Her comedy CD, “As It Should Be” has a liner note from Jay Leno: “The best comedians are the ones that write and perform their own material and Margaret Smith is at the top of that list”.
She moved to the Austin area four years ago after publishing her first book, a hilarious yet poignant, memoir about becoming a single mother, titled, “What Was I Thinking”, which she claims to have written because, “I like the idea of making people laugh without being there. I picture them on a beach towel or curled up in front of a fire reading my book and laughing out loud. It’s intimate.”
Leyna Williams is a (currently non-practicing) lawyer/former wedding planner/former knife saleswoman/former psychology lab coordinator/former pizza delivery girl turned stay-at-home-mom. She maintains her sanity by texting with her BFF and other working mom friends, researching everything, and reading Baby Rabies (She would say Pinterest, too, but Pinterest makes her feel inadequate on the days she hasn’t showered and gives her kids a random assortment of questionable fridge items for dinner).
Carol Ramsey is a project manager consultant by day and a storyteller by night. She has told stories at The Story Department, Cactus Cafe StoryTime, Testify and Fray Cafe. She isn’t sure if it’s a good thing that she has so many stories to tell. She manages Austin Storytelling, a Facebook page with a calendar and information about storytelling events in town. She teaches Stories Out Loud! where people can write and perform their first true, personal story. She hangs out on-line at carolmarieramsey.com.
Jami Bonyun is a former Wall Street number-cruncher who abandoned her career in order to find her true passion. As it turns out, her true passion is always shifting, and comes to rest on unrealistic things such as screenwriting and professional kiteboarding. She documented her soul-searching period at www.bitterandbacktracking.com but has put her career crisis on hold to focus on being a mother to one very adorable and demanding toddler. When she’s not busy playing tea party and building forts, she enjoys making fun of herself (and her husband). Her self-deprecating essays have been published in Underwired and skirt! Magazine
Meredith McGee was born on a quaint street in South Austin and decided there was no better place on the planet. So she stayed. Consequently, she is proud to have been called “Native” lo, these (ahem) thirtysome years. Never able to decide exactly what to be when she grew up; Meredith has had an illustrious (some might say, “checkered”) career path that has included titles such as, “Loan Shark”, “Head Shop Lackey”, “Phone Psychic” and “Realtor”. She is grateful that her current title is “Mother” to two fine children, aged 16 and 4, and “Wife” to one fine man, who prefers not to have his age mentioned at all. She is currently working on a website dedicated to empowering parents of girls, and hopes to one day write a best-selling dystopian novel.
Jenn Bobbitt Larson is an urban nomad who, much to her initial dismay, put down roots in semi-suburban soil and is flourishing where she is planted. Jenn is a “retired” professional dancer (not exotic), semi-professional homemaker, amateur marathoner, and accidental lactivist who finds immeasurable joy in life’s simplest pleasures- her family, a crusty loaf of fresh baked bread, and a new pair of running shoes. Once a stiletto wearing doga (yes… that’s dogs yoga) enthusiast, in motherhood Jenn discovered her passion for running and agrarian arts and admits she would be totally lost these days without her kitchen, her kiddo, and the cadence of her footfalls upon the pavement. Share in the euphoria of her miles on Twitter and Instagram(@gorunningmama) or her blog, Go Running, Mama!
Sarah Dille is a mom of two great kids and wife to a serial remodeler. She is a high school English teacher and was named Austin ISD Teacher of the Year in 2013. When she’s not planning lessons, joining her son in his fight for super-hero justice or helping her daughter design her next work of art, she writes. Her writing has been published on The New York Times Motherlode blog, The Huffington Post, BlogHer, and the Brain, Mother blog. You can find her writing about the magical mundane of parenting and educational issues facing students and teachers on her blog This Here Now.
Sharon Laidlaw-Almaguer is a mother, writer, teacher, and full-time mentor to new teachers. In these roles, she taps into a lifetime of making mistakes in order to coach others in their own paths. Readers have called her Facebook status updates “witty” and “interesting,” but she’s glad her writing is gradually being held to a more rigorous standard. She shares insights and builds a community of educators through her blog, teachermentor.org. Her own mentors are the teachers she coaches, her two sons, and her wife.
Ginger Gannaway is a Cajun gal who has lived and taught school in Texas for the past 30 years. Even though teaching high school English both challenges and inspires her daily, she believes her three beautiful boys (Shane, Casey, Evan) have created her life’s proudest moments. Since age eight she has been filling numerous journals with stories and reflections and poetry. She even co-wrote a screenplay with her husband, Gary, about the trials of teaching middle school. Lately she has focused much of her writing on personal letters to family and friends she admires, hoping that they in turn write old-fashioned letters to others in hopes of keeping this almost lost art alive. Although Ginger is a self-confessed technophobe, she welcomes groups like Listen to Your Mother that perpetuate the art of live storytelling.
Cassidy Santaguida is a stand-up comedian, story-teller, and improvisor who daylights as an IT Manager. She moved to Austin in 1997 to attend the University of Texas and enjoyed four years as a high school science teacher before returning to the University in 2006 to begin a career in information technology.
Cassidy has studied improv at The Hideout Theatre and stand-up at The Institution Theater; she is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival. Her stories have been heard at No Shame, The Encyclopedia Show, and Not This American Life. You’re most likely to find Cassidy in a local theater, running around Ladybird Lake, on stage behind a microphone, working hard on UT’s campus, enjoying an ice cold beer on one of Austin’s patios, backpacking in the West Texas wilderness, or chronicling life’s adventures on her blog, What Not To Do. Cassidy’s mother is amazing, encouraging, and worries that Cassidy spreads herself too thin.
Chris Strickling has been writing for 40 years, at least, and is still at it. She’s published scholarly articles about disability and theatre in journals that only a few rare birds ever read, work that was part of her doctorate in English from the University of Texas in Austin, 2003. She started an activist theatre company for disabled adults that ran for 12 years on the tiniest budget imaginable. She’s published a poem or two, won a small contest with a short story, written and published lesbian erotica, gotten just enough encouragement to keep on going with the whole writing thing. Her days are currently filled with the private details of the people she serves, people with multiple physical and cognitive disabilities who live in a run-down state facility that writhes under the weight of all those stories. They have taken up residence in her head and are begging to be released onto the page.
She has lived so many incarnations: the troubled young girl in the 1950’s in Fort Worth, the ardent Hippie and Feminist; the bride, the divorcee, the single mom. And later, the lesbian mom who tended goats on a small farm while she wrote her dissertation. And after that, the gray haired woman on the back of her ex-con boyfriend’s motorcycle. She raised a daughter who makes all the heart-ache worth it. She’s shared a lot of love with a lot of people, and is planning to get up and do it again as long as she has the breath and the will to do it.
Virginia Woodruff founded the website Great Moments in Parenting, which aims to bring humor and honesty back into the parenting conversation. At GMP (a SXSW Interactive Award finalist), parents share “the agony and the ecstasy of life with kids.” Virginia’s working on a book about motherhood–and why it’s harder in this generation.
She’s been profiled on Austin’s NBC Station KXAN, Your News Now, and at The Austin American Statesman. In May, 2013, she gave a Bruin Talk (like a TEDTalk) at UCLA titled, “These Aren’t Your Parents’ Kids.” Her essays have been published in The Huffington Post, Babble and Do512. She’s thrilled to be a part of the 2014 cast of Listen to Your Mother: Austin. She lives, bikes and consumes tacos in Austin with her husband and three children.
When not liberating dragons alongside her 6-year-old daughter, Robyn Jackson fills her days with whatever strikes her mood. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas and co-owns a publishing house, Robyn Lane Books. Her favorite thing in the world is her daughter, Bela. She loves Bela more than the moon, cupcakes, dinosaurs, or the cosmos. Robyn also writes essays and screenplays and has the pleasure of filming every so often. She’d like to show appreciation to Ryan, Lane, and the LTYM Goddesses. She couldn’t be more thrilled, enthralled, or excited to be a part of Listen to Your Mother. She looks forward to connecting with the cast and hearing their insights into motherhood.
Shelley Guerra has always had something to say. Only for the past several years, she’s been saying it on behalf of others, in various professional roles from literary agent and marketing assistant at a book sales and distribution company to writer for an active travel company and freelance editor. Becoming a mother gave way to a burst of creative energy that allowed her to finally find her own voice and the passion to express it. Being an audience member at the 2013 LTYM show was the added inspiration she needed to dare to let her voice be heard by the public. Shelley lives in Austin, Texas, with her loving and always supportive husband, her adorable, hilarious two-and-a-half year-old son, the sweetest pitty mix you’ve ever met, and a growing belly, currently serving as temporary accommodations for another tiny human scheduled to arrive this summer.
For show updates, follow along on on their Facebook page or website. To purchase tickets, click here. A portion of the show’s proceeds will benefit Hope Alliance, an organization that is dedicated to empowering victims of family violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes through support and advocacy.
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