Three Shows, Three Days, Two Cities, Three Venues – No Roadies
Amy Simon’s been kind enough to share her May journal entries with us – the travel! the shows! Mama Expo! and more! Want to find out more about her work? Visit ShesHistory.com and watch for part three next Sunday! (Missed part one? Click here!)
Tuesday, May 24th
Wake up all excited. SO excited. Shower, Pilates, forced some breakfast down and grab the suitcases, a latte, a cab and am on my way to Marymount Manhattan College on East 71st Street. It is almost 10AM and my cell rings. It is 7:00AM in L.A., and it is the 18-year old.
“Mom? I did not sleep – my throat hurts and I’m gonna kill the cat”.
She goes on for a while – I am not focusing as we are nearing the destination. “Honey, I can’t talk. Gargle with salt and warm water, make the ginger lemon honey drink. Feel better.”
I feel guilty as I pay the $10 fare. The helpful young gals at the reception desk have my badge and conference bag and I ask them if they know who the first woman to run for President was. As usual, no one knows – Geraldine Ferraro’s name is offered and I tell them a bit about the show and am escorted up to the room where I will be presenting.
It is a beautiful room. There is Joy Rose and six or so other women sitting in a circle. Their session before mine is still going on and it is the discussion of the ongoing activities and future of The Museum Of Motherhood.
“Come join us,” Joy invites me and I can hardly focus on what is a really interesting conversation about the goals and identity and branding of this fabulous museum. All I can think of is how long it will take me to set up the room. The session ends and I swing into action – setting up the projector, the laptop – the speakers… unpacking the suitcase and setting up the props and costumes.
A nice young college student helps me as does an old friend – Jessica – from my comedy days in NYC, who is also in Mamapalooza. A sociology professor from Hunter College arrives – she is a history buff and feminist and was told about the show. I greet her. A few other people show up and there is Joy right in the front row with her phone/camera and beautiful energy.
She introduces me, I take a deep breath and begin. I love doing the show. I love watching the audience become entertained and moved and engaged and surprised by all the information and stories. When I finish, they applaud loud and long and we have a Q&A where older women (pioneers) in the audience typically tell me of the gender discrimination they faced in their lives and brag of their accomplishments and I am once again reminded why I go to all this trouble.
But – no time for glory basking. Must turn the room over, so while Joy gets us lunch, I unplug, strike, and pack up, all the while trying to chat with the Hunter College professor who is blown away and keeps telling me what a wonderful teacher I am and that “your performance was an example of creative teaching at its best.” I am so moved. We talk about Sojourner Truth (who of course is in the show) and the power of theater. I feel like I always do after a performance of SHE’S HISTORY! So high. So so high. There is no drug like post performance.
Joy returns and we sit with her conference partner – Lynn – another fabulous female and we talk about how exhausted we are and how fabulous but ambitiously planned and amazingly executed the conference turned out to be.
A beautiful, colorfully-dressed woman comes in and Joy introduces us. She is Barbara Glickstein – one of the next presenters. (Barbara is an RN, MPH, MS, Co-Director of the Center for Health, Media and Policy at Hunter College, a public health nurse, broadcast journalist and global activist). Joy tells her about SHE’S HISTORY! and when asked which women are in my show (there are about 30), I hand her my playbill.
“Oh”, she says, perusing it. “Lucretia Mott. I know her great-great-great-granddaughter” and proceeds to tell me about the yardstick that Lucretia’s father – Thomas Coffin – used to measure cloth. I am now literally hyperventilating as I ask, “Does she live here?” And the next thing I know she promises to try and e-connect us.
Time to go – grab another cab back to the hotel where I return calls, check emails, and actually rest for the two hours until the next show. I refuel with the help of Starbucks and schlep schlep over to The Drilling Company Theater. It is 6PM. Lug lug up the two long flights and no one is in the theater. Yay!
I set up in silence, happy for the peace and focus. After a bit, I am joined by the owner, Hamilton Clancy, and two theater lovers bond. Then Joy and Lynn arrive with the wine and cheese. Sebastian – who is running the lights – arrives and we go over my opening cue. The audience is now squeezing into the teeny tiny lobby. Space in New York City is the ultimate commodity.
It is 6:40 and I am ready. We need to open the house. In my Bella Abzug costume, I grab the remote, which I use to run the show, and bolt for the tiny backstage room. Shut the door. This is the hard part now. Waiting. Waiting and hearing the audience milling and murmuring just on the other side of the door which I open a crack and sneak peeks as friends and family and colleagues make their way up the stairs to be greeted Joy and Lynne who offer wine and cheese. I love a well-fed, slightly buzzed audience.
The energy is electric. I am pacing in circles when I spot the framed poster on the wall. It is a quote by Margaret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I am immediately moved to tears. This quote closes the show. It is a sign. Grabbing my Flip, and with an emotional commentary, I shoot the sign.
It is show time. Joy has done the intro. “They are all ready for you,” she says. I enter the theater, click my remote for the first musical cue (“Que sera sera”) and here we go. The place is packed. I do my thing and I love it. They seem to love it, too. As I perform I spot all sorts of people. My sister; my former acting teacher who is helping me develop the show; my friend Jimmy from Long Island who taught me how to French kiss when I was fifteen; my old boyfriend and his lovely girlfriend.
I take my bow – make my speech thanking everyone for coming and explain how I have to turn the theater over immediately to the next show. With the help of my friend Doug, we strike my stuff and minutes later I am outside with a glass of wine enjoying my friends and sister and so so so happy.
Wednesday, May 25th
Wake up still so so so so happy and craving pancakes. Grab some and another cab and hightail over to the conference. It is the last day and the only day for me to attend any sessions. It was so hard to pick and choose but I chose Elena Skoko. Here is the description.
Memoirs of a Singing Birth. Singer and artist Elena Skoko shares her life and discoveries on the path to motherhood that takes her from Croatia to Rome, from Rome to Bali in search of the perfect birth.
Memoirs of a Singing Birth is a story of a personal quest for natural birth that ends up in a rural village in the heart of the island of Gods with the help of ‘guerrilla midwife’, Ibu Robin Lim. While giving birth, this rock ‘n’ roll woman sang!
Her path to motherhood is exotic, adventurous, unusual, but also witty and deeply emotional. This is a story that will leave a trace in your heart, changing your perception of birth forever, whether you’re expecting children or not.
Memoirs of a Singing Birth is also a personal research of contemporary and forgotten birth practices. You will find out how the author and newborn mother succeeds to overcome the labor pains by using her voice, a practice much easier than one can imagine. The e-book describes in detail and with photos the practice of lotus birth. But most of all, this is a magic love story about a woman, a man and their child. Memoirs of a Singing Birth is published on Smashwords.
She sat behind a desk in a classroom and mesmerized me with her story, her singing and especially the bit about eating placenta. She shared the session with writer/performer Anna Fishbeyn who – like me – has a one-woman show, “Sex In Mommyville”. Here is HER description:
“Sex in Mommyville.” Anna Fishbeyn will perform an excerpt from her show, and discuss the challenges mothers face in maintaining “healthy” sex lives. “Sex in Mommyville” is a feminist comedy-drama about a neurotic, guilt-ridden, health-conscious, sex-starved Manhattan mom trying to please her high-maintenance children, her lawyer-husband Zeus, and her Russian parents who live upstairs. Add to this mixture failed sex attempts and an article for Bitch Magazine raging against myopic, media-engendered stereotypes and double standards, and you’ve got a fearless portrayal of modern motherhood caught between Feminism and Bridalplasty! SexInMommyville.com
I was SO worried when she began as she was dressed very sexy in a short skirt, fishnet stockings and high heels. But she totally blew me and everyone else away with her brilliant take on contemporary motherhood and society’s objectifying and devaluing women. I wish I could see the WHOLE show, which she is doing in July at Manhattan Repertory Theatre.
The next session was with keynote speaker Dr. Phyllis Chesler.
Author of 13 books, feminist, activist and blogger, Phyllis has been active in the women and mother’s movement her entire adult life. This is her third M.O.M. Conference.
Mothers On Trial. This is the 25th anniversary edition of the book with eight new chapters. It is still the first and only book of its kind, a book that looks at how women mother, what happens when good enough mothers are custodially challenged – often by very violent husbands and fathers who prevail more often than not, and whose cause is often assisted by the court system itself. The book documents the heroism and connectedness of mothers, even under tortuous siege.
Also this new edition includes chapters which look at legal trends (1986-2011), legal torture, a new chapter about Fathers’ Supremacists groups, an updated international custody chapter, two new chapters about court-enabled incest, a new introduction, a new resources section, and a new closing chapter interview with a leading Manhattan divorce lawyer: “What To Expect When You’re Expecting a Divorce.”
What can I say? She was brilliant, articulate, passionate, funny, honest, angry and an adoring grandmother! I could relate so much and felt so validated and supported, as I believe all the mothers in the room felt. As I have learned from performing “Cheerios In My Underwear,” my play about motherhood, there is something so wonderful about being a in a room with people who are going through the same struggle. Maternally and culturally nourished, I went on the next – and last – session of the day.
Momma Love: How the Mother Half Lives by author and photographer Ali Smith. Societies need healthy mothers in order to survive, but they rarely know how to take care of mothers’ needs properly. Momma Love looks at the varying degrees of support that women receive from partners, lawmakers, employers and each other.
Photographer Ali Smith shares photographs and the very personal stories of her subjects. The mothers depicted range from famous actors to a survivor of incest who is struggling to put the shattered pieces of her self back together so that she may parent her son well. Through the anecdotal evidence revealed in these women’s stories, greater truths about the way mothers are living and are treated in western society are revealed.
I loved getting to know Ali – who, like me – spent many years in the sexist, ego-driven, male dominated often morally bankrupt music business. She was in a band; I worked in promotion. She gave me a signed copy of her wonderful first book “Laws of the Bandit Queens -Words To Live by from 35 of Today’s Most Revolutionary Women”. What a cool book filled with some of the women I portray in my show and whom she interviewed including Geraldine Ferraro, Pat Schroeder and Alice Walker! Ali showed us a presentation of her upcoming project Momma Love – about motherhood.
It all ended too soon and exhausted but totally inspired and emotionally overwhelmed – but in a good way – I hugged and kissed all the fabulous females I met and bonded with and hit the hot and crowded streets of Manhattan.
Thursday, May 26th
I chilled. I just chilled. The whole damned day. Ahhhhhh.
About Amy Simon and She’s History: Using theater, history, multi-media, lots of audience interaction, treats, and good old-fashioned story telling, She’s History! is chock full of stories, scenes and revelations; true tales of fabulous females, then and now. Going back and forth from the past to the present, poignantly and comically (her trademark) our Modern Mom, Amy Simon, finds the funny as she struggles with raising girls in today’s challenging world. Visit She’sHistory.com to learn more!
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