I’m a guest blogger today on the Listen To Your Mother website.
Audition Day! Harriet’s Story
Submissions are officially closed and LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER San Francisco is rolling ahead to our auditions in Oakland, Mill Valley and San Francisco! Janine, Mary and I were blown away by the quality of essays this year. Thank you to everyone who bared a piece of their soul and please believe me when I say that each and every story was recognized and appreciated. As always, it was very difficult culling it down to the next level of auditions.
For those of you getting ready to read your work aloud to us, no doubt you’re feeling excited, nervous, jittery. Maybe even terrified. A little sick to your stomach. We get it. It’s one thing to reveal yourself on paper and it’s another to give life to it with your voice.
Harriet Heydemann, one of our talented 2016 cast members, shares her audition day experience with us – and how her lucky charm made all the difference.
My Lucky Charm by Harriet Heydemann
I don’t believe in luck. I think amulets and talismans are a bunch of hooey. But I brought a friend with me to my Listen to Your Mother audition, and she brought me good luck. Without Maria, I would never have been selected.
Maria and I had known each other for a few years. We had connected through our daughters, but we had never had so much as a simple conversation without one of them present.
We had agreed to have lunch after my five-minute audition. Maria came early and met me in the library. She could have waited at the table outside the audition room. But the judges were gracious hosts. They greeted Maria and invited her in.
“You can do this,” she whispered to me as we walked in together. “Just read like you’re telling me your story.” Maria sat beside me facing the judges. What the judges saw was a woman with wispy grey hair and a drawn face in nondescript clothing, wrapped up in an over-sized winter coat.
I knew the judges liked my story, at least on paper. What I didn’t know was if Maria would like it. And I never could have predicted how much she’d like it. She laughed when I said something funny, sighed when I said something sad, and nodded her head in agreement when I said something poignant. For those five minutes, she sat visibly captivated. At the end of my story, her light hazel eyes brightened, and her broad smile filled her face. Without my prompting, Maria was the perfect audience.
“Don’t worry,” Maria said to me over lunch. “You were great. They will pick you. I know it. I watched the judges’ faces. They loved you.”
I liked hearing that someone other than my mother thought I could write. I didn’t believe Maria could read minds or tell the future. There’s only so much a good luck charm can do. But maybe she was a little clairvoyant. The next week Maria’s prediction came true, and I was one of the eleven chosen to read.
In May, Maria came to the performance. “I knew you’d be terrific,” she told me afterwards. Maria’s hair had become thinner. The ninety-minute show had exhausted her. What the judges didn’t know was that Maria had undergone several rounds of chemotherapy for breast cancer.
By August, she was gone.
Sometimes we only have five minutes to be a true friend, to be a good luck charm in someone’s life. Maria made me believe that my stars were aligned, that I had the winning lottery ticket, that something magical can happen when you focus on someone else for a perfect five minutes. I was one lucky writer to have Maria’s encouragement — to laugh, and to sigh, and to nod in all the right places.
Thank you so much, Harriet. How wonderful to have had someone like Maria in your life.
To our auditioners, we can’t wait to hear your essays come to life in your own voice! Whether your lucky charm is something you hold in your heart, your hand, or a good friend like Maria, you will be terrific.