Monday, April 27, 2015

Confessions of a Local Stage-Play Producer - Part I

An Interview with SW Michigan's "Listen To Your Mother" Producer Kim Jorgensen Gane 
Kim Jorgensen Gane / photo: Scott R. Gane Photography
   I am so happy to introduce you to my friend Kim Jorgensen Gane.

Kim is a writer and coach, as well a communications, media, and wellness consultant living and working on Michigan’s sunset coast with her husband, son, a standard poodle and a gecko. She’s been every-mom, raising two generations of kids over twenty-seven years.

Kim writes on a variety of topics including parenting through midlife crisis, infertility, health and wellness, personal empowerment, politics, and about anything else that interests her, including flash fiction and her books in progress. She loves to promote the work of talented local writers and artists. She can’t wait to do so as Co-Director/Producer of Southwest Michigan’s first production of "Listen to Your Mother." Her website is Follow @KimGANEPossible on Twitter.

Kim co-facilitates #Write2TheEnd Writers Workshop™ with me, and, as you can see, does SO much more. I'm grateful she took the time out of her busy schedule to talk about her experience as a first-time producer.

Kim is a tireless advocate for building an open, diverse, thriving community. Today features the first part of my interview with her. Part II will run tomorrow. Enjoy! 

Kim:  When my oldest was in middle school, I took time out of restaurant ownership to chaperone her eighth grade choir on a trip to see “The Producers” in Chicago at the Lincoln Theater. The tickets were deeply discounted and we got to see the original cast, with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. It was fantastic! Even if, during the “gay” scene and after a couple of F-bombs, her teacher pulled us all out of our nosebleed seats into the hallway.
Sing with me: "I wanna be a producer!"

She was trying to whisper and still be heard by our entire disappointed gaggle, “I'm rethinking whether or not we should be here [with a bunch of 13-year-olds]. I asked the box office when I called whether this was an appropriate show for eighth graders.”

Our rather intense discussions were met with loud intermittent shushing from the usher. And then from an audience member or two, amid the fits of laughter that leaked out each time the door was pushed open.

My daughter and I weren’t missing the rest of the show for anything. A couple of other parents and I stayed at the theater with a group of kids who thought (or pretended to think) their parents wouldn’t care. The choir director and another group of parents and students went back to ride the escalators at Water Tower a few dozen more times.

The oldest and I need a do-over. Even after missing some of the best parts of the show, I’m still glad we went. But never, not one time during the show or ever in the years since, did I sing to myself, “I want to be a producer…,” and mean it.

Ami:  So: "Listen to Your Mother." What’s it all about?

Kim: Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) began with one show in Madison, Wisconsin in 2010. Founder and national director, Ann Imig, thought moms deserved more than just brunch on Mother's Day. She wanted to give moms a microphone. And boy, has the show resonated! 

In the years since, this movement has grown, with over 1000 individual past readings available for viewing on the LTYM YouTube channel. 

The 2015 season begins this weekend in some of our 38 cities across the U.S., but our local show isn’t until Saturday, May 9th. And LTYM isn’t just by moms, for moms. Anyone who's ever had a mother, known a mother, missed a mother, or wanted to be one will delight in this array of local writers reading their own stories about the truths of motherhood. And 10% of our tickets sales benefit the programs at Readiness Center, Inc. An amazing local charity that supports families in Benton Harbor in choosing education as a way out of poverty. 

Key Takeaway: Before you commit to something, know what it is and what it stands for.

Ami: What is your connection to "Listen To Your Mother?" When did your involvement with the show begin?

Kim: I belong to a very active and prolific group of midlife women bloggers. Several of them had participated in "Listen to Your Mother" in past seasons and, of course, had written about it. Patty Chang Anker included her audition experience in her book, SOME NERVE: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave. Well, brave was something I needed desperately. Her book and her friendship has meant a great deal to me in many areas of my life, and certainly in the case of Listen to Your Mother. 

I visited the website, considered Chicago, but figured the competition would be incredibly stiff. So I auditioned in Northwest Indiana, and my story was selected for the 2014 cast. 
Key Takeaway: There is no bonus for flying blind. Do your homework. Whenever possible, try to see things from your cast's point of view.

Ami: Why did you want to bring this show to your hometown?

Kim: It’s difficult to describe the experience of standing on a stage and reading your own words about something so full of pain, pleasure, doubt, mystique, heartbreak, humor, and joy. 

My story in 2014 was about being suicidal as a young single mother. But it was about so much more than that. It was about survival, and the triumph of enjoying the family of grown, married daughters and young son I share with my husband today. The experience is one, as a reader, you gift the whole audience. And you feel their energy in return, so the process gives and receives. The audience rises with your joy, and their hearts break with yours. I wrote about that “Me, too” experience and compared it to a stand of Aspens—one organism, all connected at the roots. It’s incredible. 

I knew the moment I stepped on that stage that I wanted to bring it to my hometown. That I needed to. I wanted my community, particularly Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, to have that same experience of bonding through motherhood—a topic we all understand, yet experience in many different ways.

Key Takeaway: Passion drives the production.

Tune in tomorrow for Part II of "Confessions of a Local Stage-Play Producer!

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