Photo by Lucy Hawthorne
Over 15 years ago, like a lot of us, Dave Nadelberg found a love letter that he had written. But unlike most of us who quickly cringed and then shoved said letter back in the shoebox, he went on to share it with his friends, and then later with a sold-out audience in Los Angeles. And thus, the Mortified empire was born.
The idea is to dig out all of your old journals, songbooks, or anything else you wrote during your awkward years, find the most horrifying pieces, and then read them in front of an audience of strangers and friends alike. “If it makes you want to shrivel up inside, that’s what we want to see,” says Amanda Zweerink, the organizing producer for the Twin Cities chapter. And she would know, since at the February 18 show she got up on stage and read about her young romantic turmoil.
The Twin Cities has now hosted four shows during its time as a chapter of Mortified Live, three of which have sold out. And with the highlight of this show being the fact that those on stage are respected members of our communities (who also spent summers getting sick at Valley Fair and hogging the phone line calling KDWB to win coveted *NSYNC tickets), the producers of Mortified want to find even more brave local souls. If you are courageous (or shameless) enough to get on stage, Zweerink gives us some tips for the next steps:
- Find every single piece of writing that you have stored away. One you’ve found them all, go through and pick out at least seven passages that you think are the most embarrassing or the funniest. “The best content comes from the stuff you’d be horrified if your friend, mom, or significant other ever found,” says Zweerink. (Hint: look for all caps, underlines, or exclamation points—hilarious teenage woes tend to be dramatic).
- Don’t look for themes or try to find cohesive story lines. The producers read and/or listen to people’s diaries for a living, so they just want to hear the best pieces. Once they find highlights, they will go through with you to find other pieces that give context or show other angles to the story, whether that’s a love note that you received from the boy you said you’d never speak to again, or a song you wrote about the time your sister embarrassed you in front of everyone.
- The hardest part is making the initial decision. Take the chance to meet with the producers. If you have the material ready, after working with them and practicing with the other performers, you’ll have a massive support system behind you, and getting on stage will be a piece of cake.
Mortified Live is June 17 at Como Dockside, 1360 Lexington Pkwy. N., St. Paul.