By Laurelle Walsh

Eleven valley artists will tell their stories of mothering and being mothered in a one-night show at The Merc Playhouse on Sunday (May 11) at 7 p.m.

The Mother Experience Project is a one-hour collection of performance pieces about motherhood, written, designed and presented from 11 unique perspectives.

“Together we’ve created a lovely, cohesive program,” said co-producer Rose Weagant. And the show’s uncomplicated technical details make it possible to “emphasize the voices,” she said.

“Hearing these voices will help anyone who comes to the show feel less alone,” added fellow producer Lexi Koch. “These are the things that bind us together. We are all facing more than we ever expected.”

The “intense” works range from song to poetry to short story, with some comic relief provided by Weagant.

Contributor Maureen Collins will tell the story of her “very challenging” relationship with her mother, Koch said. Kelleigh McMillan will read original poetry; Jessica da Costa will combine movement with music by her family members; and Paul Gitchos — the evening’s only male contributor — will play music for his own mother, who will be in attendance.

Each performer has delved into some of their deepest feelings, said Koch. “These stories deliver raw truths, and may not be suitable for all ages,” she added.

“Bring Kleenex,” both Koch and Weagant suggest.

The production team began preparing the contributing artists for the Mother’s Day performance after holding auditions in February. “It has been kind of a three-month-long writers’ workshop,” Weagant said.

“I sat down with each of these speakers early on, and we talked through the emotions behind their work so that they all felt grounded in what they’re trying to say about their individual journeys,” Weagant said. “We wanted to provide a safe environment for each one to share things that are dear to them.”

Acknowledging that putting one’s most intimate feelings into words can be quite difficult, the producers “opened the program to communicating experiences through different mediums,” such as hula hooping and dance, Weagant said.

In the first month of preparation, Weagant talked to the artists about creating one’s own “altar of memories.”

“I told them it’s like when your in-laws are coming over and you put all those feelings and experiences away in the closet,” Weagant explained. “We are taking all those memories out of that closet, dusting them off and examining them for what they are. It’s an intense experience.”

A “group altar” of photographs, objects and visual images will provide additional food for thought in the theater’s concessions area, Koch said.

Admission to the Mother Experience Project is by donation. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

For more information contact Koch at 997-0664.