ANN IMIGCREATING A MOVEMENT, GIVING VOICE TO MOTHERHOOD
“I’M A RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST,” says humor writer Ann Imig. She’s only half kidding.
You’ve met Imig in the pages of BRAVA, where she’s contributed try-anything experiential stories and essays, or perhaps you’ve read her gut-laugh blog annsrants.com. You might have also been to her Listen to Your Mother show at Barrymore “Theatre on Mother’s Day, which showcases live readings about motherhood by author-presenters.
It’s the LTYM show that got her re-thinking her tendency to worry every last detail. And good thing. What started out as a one-off show has, five years later, grown into so much more.
“I don’t even know what to think about it,” Imig says of her surprise that her live storytelling event has morphed into a book. “It’s like a blogging bat mitzvah,” she says, laughing, amazed at the thought of everyone who’s planning to attend her New York book launch: show contributors, directors and producers, book editors, friends, family and people she’s never met.
Imig’s ability to tell an engaging story is proof she gets the LTYM page as much as the LTYM stage; both require stringing together cast mates’ stories, “This year, the LTYM show hits 39 stages around the country, each featuring local presenters’ stories. Imig serves as national director, still reading at and crafting the Madison show, but also sometimes traveling to and always mentoring or consulting with LTYM show directors and producers in other states.
Where did it start? On the Internet. “I was full of unexpressed potential,” says Imig. She called herself an “at-home humorist” and for creative expression she turned to mommy blogging—before the rush. She attended conferences, built a following and an online community, and eventually the live-show community that now tells stories annually.
Add that to her past life, and hers is a good story. “I used to think I had the most random career trajectory but all roads have led to this.” Her previous stage acting informs her writing and directing. A national advertising sales career infused business sense and persuasive skills needed to garner national sponsors for the show. A social work degree imparted a charitable mission to LTYM that pays the goodness forward. Social media expertise spreads the word, “The relevance of motherhood, besides endless story fodder and logistical expertise ? ” Producing is like parenthood. You are no longer responsible just for yourself.”
“the goal of Imig’s shows is to connect LTYM readers and the audience in a shared experience. Altruism comes into play, too, as it invariably does in anything related to motherhood. A minimum of 10 percent of proceeds goes to charities. In its first four years LTYM raised $50,000; Imig anticipates raising more than $25,000 this year alone.
“the show also puts people who have never directed or produced into those chairs—with coaching and mentoring— and watches them grow through organic spin-offs like creativity workshops, writing groups, even new jobs thanks to the new skill sets. “It helps women find and share their voices,” says Imig. She’s proud to say the show changes people’s lives. She tells of a mom-presenter who after sharing her transgender daughter’s story became an advocate overnight, and even spoke at a national conference on the topic.
Equity through the LTYM show is among Imig’s passions:”The Madison show reflects the Madison I want to live in.” One, she says, that supports all women, and allows her to use her own spheres of influence to make our community better. Similarly, the book reflects those who stage and perform the show in each city.
What’s next? “I have no expectations— and that’s a reaction to having spent a lifetime striving toward outcomes, and that’s a really painful place to live, “This all happened when I learned to let go, to trust, to have faith.”
“There are definitely more shows (May 10 in Madison), “The LTYM YouTube channel has over a million views—it’s now a movement. Maybe another book? “I’m sure I have things to say. I just don’t know what yet,” says Imig.
Listen—just don’t worry about it. It will come. Says Imig, “When you find your voice, things happen.”
– Kate Bast