January 28, 2015

Spotlighting: Writers & Books, Our Home for Auditions

We didn’t have far to look for an audition venue here in Rochester. We wanted:
a place that welcomes all peopleWABpic;
a place that welcomes writers;
a place that connects people with their words and others’ words;
a genuinely cozy, comfortable, creative spot. We wanted to hold auditions at Writers and Books, the crown jewel of Rochester’s grassroots, literary movement.
Located in the heart of Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts, Writers and Books is the spot to meet your writing guru and introduce words to the memories, ideas, and emotions that you carry around but haven’t yet put to paper. (They also run a ton of fabulous programs, so be sure to check out their online catalogue.)
Writers and Books has something for everyone: teens, new writers, veteran writers, closet writers, voracious readers, poetry fanatics and people who just love the written word. At some point or another–if you haven’t already–you’re going to want to take one of WAB’s fabulous writing offerings. Writing a novel? Writing your memoirs? Machinating your own manifesto? Trying your hand at poetryJust want to sit in and listen about a good book? Yeah, they got that. And a plethora of potential picks to pen your purple prose.
One favorite? Try “Where Motherhood and Writing Meet,” offered by local literary force Sally Bonn–a six-week course devoted to helping you pen your experiences with one of the World’s Hardest Jobs in a most supportive environment. And: the course runs prior to our auditions… so you never know if you might get a great LTYM piece out of it!
Seriously: we love this place, and we love the people who make it run. There’s simply nowhere else in the world you’re going to find an old firehouse with a giant pencil and a poetry booth just outside. Our sincere thanks to Writers & Books for our audition space! Sign up–space is limited for our March 2nd, 7th, and 14th auditions. See you at 700 University Avenue!
Featured video: Sabine Brown’s “On Being Just a Stay At Home Mom”

January 13, 2015

Clang clang! TIME TO WRITE! Listen To Your Mother: Rochester Wants YOU!

How exciting is it to be Co-Directing the Rochester production of Listen To Your Mother?

For one, I'm SHAKING with anticipation: when I imagine our show, live and on the Memorial Art Gallery's auditorium stage on May 8th, I envision a beautiful cast of all kinds of people, sharing their poignant, funny, moving, heartbreaking, and bonding stories of the job called Motherhood.

Sarah Fitzgibbons, Emily Horowitz, Corrie Spike Carter, and I have joined forces to bring you an entertaining and fulfilling evening. Our event, as do all 38 other cities' shows, will generate proceeds for two, important, local organizations: The Rochester Society for the Protection and Care of Children, and Parenting Village. In supporting these organizations, we support women and children in the greater Rochester area.

Want to READ ALL ABOUT IT? Check out our local LTYM page, SUBSCRIBE, and be sure to visit our YouTube channel for hundreds of archived stories. (Seriously: prepare to sit and watch for a while--and bring the tissues.) Here's a taste: K. Marie Woodberry's "Braveheart."

We hope to see you at auditions (WRITE! NOW! WRITE! NOW!), and we can't wait to see you at the show!

December 14, 2014

Light in the Darkness: A wish for 2015 (#HanukkahHoopla post #8)


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.


I’d been invited to a forum, in a not-so-distant school district, as a teacher representative, to speak on behalf of integration between the city and suburban schools. (Yes, in 2014. Just weeks ago, actually.) I brought with me a fresh-faced, intelligent, well-spoken, minority student from our school--a participant in the integration program--to act as a student rep on the same panel. We spoke about the beauty of places where people interact and their skin color bears nothing on their relationships. About friendships that had formed in elementary school and which were still strong in our high school. About the beauty of spontaneous, cultural exchanges. About how we all bring unique perspectives to our studies and learn so much from each other.


A man stood up in that same room. He pointed at my student and yelled epithets I never thought I’d hear. His rage at the prospect of “those [city] kids” coming to his district from our city was palpable. The air changed. I looked at my student: her stunned face, her shaking hands. Both of us were shaking. Her mother, also in the audience, sat on the edge of her seat, her hands on the seat in front of her, with the same look of shock that all of us on that panel wore. 

That angry man wasn’t alone. Other residents in the room voiced their fears, their ignorance. 

I went home in tears. I wanted to act, and yet: what does one person do when racism and ignorance reveal themselves so blatantly?


The next day, we learned there was to be no indictment for Eric Garner’s being choked to death. And the air was even more thin. I cried between classes. And I still couldn’t conceive of the kind of action I needed to take. 


I proposed a teach-in to our principal. I talked to my classes about Ferguson, about Long Island, about anger and protests, about the comments that were now pouring in over the local integration debate, and I let them debate and discuss until the bells rang. (I cried in my car after school.) 


A colleague saw my face in the hallway the next morning. She saw my red eyes and beleaguered stance. When she asked how I was doing--so many teachers knew about the meeting earlier that week--I had trouble forming the words. I simply looked at her, biting my lip, hoping that I could pull it together today without losing my composure. 

What she said, then, saved me and has continued to hold me together:

Be a candle, Monica. You don’t have to be the lighthouse.” 

And later, another colleague suggested that the best action any of us (teacher, non-teachers, parents who look for ways to talk with their kids about ignorance and injustice, whose own children are hatred and violence) can take is to

“...write. Make art. Study art: literature, painting, film, photographs. 
Art persists long after hateful comments; art tells the stories.
Art has and always will have the last word.”


This week, New York lost two officers. We can’t help but think about this seemingly endless cycle of violence. We think about so many families who’ve lost their patriarchs, whose homes and hearts won’t be full this holiday season, whose children will always remember this season as one of darkness.


This Chanukah, as we light our candles, I think of those children, and I hug our babies so tightly they ask me to let go. I watch the candles dwindle while they sleep upstairs, busy dreaming and working out all the chaos that is their waking day. I think about how I can help to repair the wounds in the fabric of our society. How to grow children who see and honor the good in all people, because ALL LIVES MATTER. How to grow children who will use reason and compassion and education and love to guide their life choices.

And I write.

And I teach.

And I love.

I wish you joy and peace in 2015. What are your wishes for the coming year? Leave a comment in order to be in the running to win _______________ until December 31st, 2014! 


I am honored to have been a part of this year's #HanukkahHoopla blogging group, and was in no way compensated for this essay.