Working Out Issues
Angst, written: Mortified reading series seeks real people to share their bestcringe-worthy stories
Did you keep a locked journal all throughout junior high where you stored all of your innermost tween hopes and dreams as well as what you wore every day?
Or did you save any of your favorite school assignments from this time period because you had a crush on your teacher?
Perhaps you used to make up hysterical song parodies and about historical figures and record them on your Walkman just for fun?
If you still have these precious (i.e. terribly embarrassing) keepsakes in your possession, it's time to overcome the fear, shake off the dust and share their secrets with the world at large. Yep. Out loud. Under a spotlight. In front of an audience.
Mortified, the wildly popular reading series that shines a gentle, loving light on that adolescent place from whence we all emerged, is looking for brave new contributors in Austin to read aloud their most intimate, cringe-worthy childhood memories with empathetic, understanding audiences.
Adolescence was awkward for everyone, no matter how pretty or popular you were. Surrounded with audience members who can relate to every one of the physical changes and emotional struggles, the Mortified stage is the perfect place to let your junior high freak flag fly and relish the opportunity in sharing and relating with others.
Already, two Mortified collections have been published, showcasing the most real of the real life stories shared on the stages of this seven-city reading series. The Sundance Channel has created a television series called The Mortified Sessions that invites celebrities to share their own embarrassing and heartfelt stories. And now a documentary is underway to collect this show's addictive popularity.
"I love Mortified because it celebrates the weird, eclectic kids we once were, gives folks a chance to be those kids again, and brings the audience to this hysterical and poignant place," says Erica Lies, a producer of the Austin incarnation of the show. "For both performers and audiences, it's a reminder that every single one of us has a strange little person within, and that's okay."
For most, contributing to Mortified is an exercise in healing through laughter, realizing how universal our teenage feelings of isolation and independence really are. Hearing the (sometimes insane) thoughts of your hormonally-charged younger self out loud presents an amazing feeling of disconnect, hilarity and empowerment for both the performer and the audience.
"This show gets performers to reveal sides of themselves that maybe it's never occurred to them to tell anyone about before, and the audience recognizes parts of themselves that they've also probably never talked about it," Lies explains. "Then we all get to laugh about it because this brave person had the guts to share."
Somehow, the unflinching honesty of a teenager's journal can simultaneously make your skin crawl and hit you right at your core. Listening to these vulnerable, brilliant storytellers builds an immediate rapport that feels good for everyone involved. It's like a big group hug and a trust fall and an intervention all rolled into one.
For those of you in possession of your adolescent journals, assignments, creative projects and love letters, Austin Mortified is now accepting submissions for their upcoming show in May. Interested parties should round up all their incriminating artifacts and fill out the participation questionaire on the website as thoroughly as possible for a screening call-back on March 17. No performance experience is needed; real people are honestly the stars of the show.
All of the selected contributors will be gently guided through the editorial process with one or more of the Austin producers, such as Lies or yours truly, who will help select the most entertaining and solidly constructed pieces from your years of angsty writing. Together, a finalized script will present itself, full of vibrant detail, honest humor and agonizing, real-talk truth.
Sounds amazing, doesn't it? So what are you waiting for?