Marilyn Norry is a multi-talented, award-winning member of the Delta Stageworks artist group and founder of My Mother’s Story, a foundation dedicated to the telling of women’s social history. She will be giving a TEDx Talk in January (yeah Marilyn!), and we took some time to talk about what’s exciting for her about this upcoming talk on a world-wide platform and it’s potential for audiences.
What’s exciting about doing this after all the years of your My Mother’s Story writing workshops?
It’s hard to condense 18 years into 12 minutes but I find it exciting working with these coaches and seeing the hard work of the other speakers. The coaching we get is like what we talk about in acting class and dramaturgy class on content etc. but from a very different angle. There are people who speak for a living – on anything! Right now my speech feels like it’s moving towards stand up comedy but I’m sure someone is going to rein me in soon. Distilling my message to one through-line is difficult but why I wanted this challenge.
Who should watch this TedTalk you’re giving?
Anyone who has or had a mother is welcome and will be informed by this talk.
Any insights as to how this experience is shaping your thinking about the upcoming show Heirlooms & Baggage (My Mother’s Story) at Stageworks?
I am still very excited by what we’re creating with Heirlooms and Baggage. In the past I have focused on the stories the writers tell of their mothers but in this show we’re looking at the blocks and hesitations, the secrets and revelations that come when you start looking beneath the surface of what you’ve held as your mother’s story. It’s weird that something this simple could be so effective! For my TEDx I have written much on the taboo aspect of this challenge but in the end I took it all out. Some people find it an easy assignment to write their mothers’ stories – they were just waiting to be asked. At the other end of the spectrum are people who “don’t want to waste another minute of their lives in the presence of her energy” (quote from a friend when I asked him why he didn’t want to talk about his mother) Not all mothers are love and sunshine. But either way, there are some great stories! The characters in H&B are somewhere in the middle in their determination to tell the truth and adventures in their mothers’ lives. We should also tell audiences that H&B is quite funny in the midst of all this soul searching.
What do you think audiences will take away from coming to your Talk?
I hope people see that they have stories in their own lives that deserve to be told and through this process their mothers will be honoured and made visible. Besides good stories they will see more of themselves and where their own wisdom has been forged. Hopefully they’ll all go home and give it a try. And I should say that there are 11 other speakers on the day and they’re fascinating! Plus lunch and snacks and live musical interludes. Right now there are Student Discounts offered (I’ll attach the poster for that) so this is a day all ages will enjoy. Two of the 12 speakers are Surrey high school students and they’ve very good!
Do you have any advice for people who are thinking that they really want to write their mother’s story?
Write your mother’s story and you’ll discover your own. By being her witness, you stop being her critic, and eventually you may even stop being your own critic. The writing recipe we use is essentially a character arc of a living person where mom is the star of the movie of her life and the writer is a small supporting character. Some moms are in Hallmark movies, others are in action thrillers but either way they’re good stories.
To book tickets to see Marilyn in her TEDTalk series ‘A Shift in Thinking’ on January 2021, please go to this link: https://tedxsurrey.ca/2023-speakers/
Please consider a donation towards the cost of bringing Heirlooms & Baggage (My Mother’s Story) to the stage in 2023 on our GoFundMe page