Giving Motherhood a Microphone

It all started with a cheese doodle.

Not just any cheese flavored cheese puff, but an innocent snack handed to a little 15-month-old toddler who had never tasted such a flavor, from her new-ish grandmother. “Who knew that Jamie would walk in the kitchen at that very moment,” explained Cohen. “It has cheese in it! I remember stumbling, so it must be healthy.”

Cohen’s daughter and son-in-law are very specific about the healthy food choices for their daughter Hallie and son Ethan and cheese doodles were definitely not on the menu that day.

The story of the cheese doodle and the dance that happens between adult children, their parents and their children is the subject of an artistic expression that Ellyn Cohen of Piermont will be telling the evening of May 10th. It is no coincidence that the evening is the night before Mother’s Day. In fact audiences in 32 cities across the country will experience well-crafted journeys that celebrate and validate mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor.

The funny part here is that Cohen’s children will be attending the event (claiming to be busy was not an option here–aka Mothers Day Gift) where they are in fact the subjects of a very personal, comedic essay and one that will resonate with many of the 450 people in attendance that evening.

Cohen auditioned for “Listen to Your Mother” in March 2014 and was selected as one of 15 cast members, from over 100 participants, to take part in the North Jersey “Listen to Your Mother” performance. The performance will be held at the South Orange Performing Arts Center through the theater company, Midtown Direct Rep, aptly named for the New Jersey transit line on which local residents commute. MDR is comprised of accomplished theater artists and seasoned Broadway veterans who call Maplewood/South Orange their home. Sandy Rustin, Producer/Director for the 2014 “Listen to Your Mother” North Jersey is a founding member of Midtown Direct Rep.

The Listen To Your Mother North Jersey Cast - Ellyn Cohen wearing yellow and purple scarf.

The Listen To Your Mother North Jersey Cast – Ellyn Cohen wearing yellow and purple scarf.

Cohen was raised in Hewlett, NY and received a BS degree in Speech and Dramatics from Syracuse University, and a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology from Teacher’s College. Cohen lived in Atlanta, where her husband, Dr. Daniel Cohen, did his residency in Pediatrics. In 1974, she and her husband moved to Rockland County, where Ellyn worked for 20 + years as a speech pathologist, with a private practice. Ellyn raised two children, Jamie and Evan. In addition to her career in Speech Pathology, she taught Public Speaking and Human Communication at Rockland Community College. Cohen then established Presentation Power!, speech writing and speech coaching. Clients included non- profits, corporate executives, fundraisers, and politicians. She spent three years as Community Liaison for a NYS Assemblyman, five years as Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the JCC of Rockland. She now lives in Piermont and while learning to be retired, read “Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood,” by Suzanne Braun Levine. This inspired her to start an author series for Rockland Jewish Family Service. Several times/year, RJFS bring authors to the community to speak about psycho/social issues of interest to Baby Boomers.

Listen to Your Mother, founded by Ann Imig, a self described “stay-at-home humorist” has been giving voices to motherhood since 2010 in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors.

Listen to Your Mother aims to support motherhood creatively through artistic expression, and also financially, through contributions to non-profit organizations supporting families in need. The North Jersey show will be donating a 10% of ticket proceeds to NJCW, an Essex County Non-Profit dedicated to helping women and children in need in Essex County.

Happy Mothers Day Ellyn Cohen and to all –this Mother’s Day— remember to listen to your mother.

Listen to Your Mother North Jersey:

RJFS Author’s Series:

With permission Nyack/Piermont Hamlet Hub