March 21, 2014

Know Thyself, or Why You Should Definitely Come See Listen To Your Mother

Photo courtesy of Balee Images
Those of you paying attention to everything I do (Hi Jenn! Hi Laura! Hi Aunt Genocide!) already know that I'm in the Chicago cast for Listen To Your Mother this year.

I have to tell you, I am SO excited! I'm thrilled!

About everything except one teeny tiny thing...


I have unfortunately inherited my mothers total inability to hold still for a photograph. It's not self-loathing or poor self esteem, it's just fact. I take TERRIBLE pictures.

Truly, amazingly bad. My wedding photographers had a HUGE job, and accomplished MIRACLES.

This gets worse every single year, as I'm sure my mother will attest. The two of us understand what happens when a camera comes out. As they say, "Know Thyself." Well, I know myself. And Grandmommy knows herself, too.

My mother is a lovely, charming, beautiful woman. She is not the most graceful person on earth- she did manage to break her wrist pogo-ing into a car once. But in pictures, she looks like either she's a deer caught in headlights, or like she's being chased by a cement mixer.

Likewise, I know that I am an engaging, emotive, and dare I say moving public speaker and performer. But I know myself. I know that in real life, I don't look like somebody standing behind the camera just tore open their chest to reveal that instead of organs, they have a collection of doll shoes.

And I assure you, I do not REALLY look like this when I perform:

You know what? That's not true. I TOTALLY look like that. Pretty much all the time.

Suffice to say, I catch a lot of flies.

I don't just take ridiculous, open mouth photos either. I have an amazing array of really dumb expressions caught on camera.

Okay give me a minute- I'm going to pee my pants laughing.
Moving on.
At each Listen To Your Mother rehearsal, there are an AMAZING duo of photographers from Balee Images immortalizing the magic. And I assure you, it is magic in the room with these fifteen incredible writers baring their souls together for all to see.

But no amount of talent can make me stop doing things like... well...

Courtesy of Balee Images
I believe the word I'm saying here is "whole," but it could be "beluga," or, "Help me I've choked on my own tongue."
Keep in mind, I was dressed like a pirate gypsy an hour before this picture. So yeah, I'm a delicate flower, yo.

The fact is that I'm a performer. I perform when I read, when I speak, and that means abandoning all sense of self consciousness and just GOING FOR IT. And that means that I look like I'm utterly unhinged when you take still moments of it all out of context.

And it's not just me. I promise you, a google image source for the phrase "actors making ridiculous faces" will have you in stitches for the rest of the day. It's facial aerobics. People who perform, they stand up and they perform, and that means running the risk every single second that somebody is going to snap a picture and make you look like you got a quick lobotomy on your lunch break.

At any rate, I THOUGHT no amount of talent could keep me from looking like every muscle in my face moves independently from each other while I talk. But I was wrong. Those rock stars from Balee Images made some magic happen.

Don't be distracted by the remarkably photogenic brunette with the green glasses.

Really what I'm getting at is this. You do NOT want to rely on pictures alone to experience Listen To Your Mother in Chicago. Because I will foul up those pictures with a vengeance, regardless of the brilliance of our photographers. If you rely on pictures, you'll have a series of funny faces that represent tiny moments of comedic or emotional brilliance, without the context of... say... a gesture.

It's like Ani Difranco says, "It took me too long to realize that I never take good pictures 'cause I have the kind of beauty that moves."

So true, everyone. So true.

I'm incredibly grateful there will be pictures of this process. I will look back on them for years to come, and no doubt feel the same pride and humility to share a space with these women, and tell stories, and experience the family of a cast. I will look back on every goofy face with love and joy. But nothing will convey the experience of being there like being there.

So make sure you buy your tickets soon- don't rely on pictures. Don't trust me, or any performer, to have any ability to convey the humor and honesty and rawness and most importantly beauty of this show in a single moment, frozen in time.

Get your tickets and come see it live. Because live? I rock. And so do the other fourteen ladies in this cast.

Come and feel the magic.


  1. Oh, Lea. This cracked me up because I know EXACTLY how you feel!

    You are right, though. People need to see you live because you are a performer, through and through. Can't wait for the show!

  2. I'm the same way with pictures. And it's even worse if someone tells me to smile- I give this fake grimace and I just can't help it!

    I love how your LTYM pic came out- gorgeous! Though I love seeing your personality shine through in all your pics. xo



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