Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The View From Here #147: CA, OR, ID, MI, KY, OH, PA, VA, WV, SC


San Francisco Bay from Point Richmond
 The fall tour is complete!

Following a flurry of performances over the past two weeks, I find myself suddenly with time on my hands!

At the moment, I’m somewhere in the southeastern states (I have no idea where I’ll be by the time I’ve actually posted this blog), catching up with family in Virginia and heading for Chattanooga, Tennessee…

But, as to how I got here…


Mount Shasta from Interstate 5

From Salt Lake City, I proceeded to Reno, NV (Avoid the Peppermill Casino/Hotel! Yechh!), San Francisco, where I caught up with Risa and saw Bill Irwin performing Scapin!), Fresno (catching up with Airplane Jayne), and Los Angeles (where I caught up with Kirsten, who is working on her own one-woman show these days).

The California Lutheran University performance has been in negotiations for about two years, and the French prof hosted myself and the theatre professors to a sumptuous dinner at a small French restaurant, in advance of the show, which was extremely well received, capped off with a standing ovation (…In fact, I think every performance of this fall got a standing ovation, so I’ll stop bringing that up…), and we captured some fun video, as well.


A long review appeared in the CLU school paper, saying, in part:
                                                                    
Tim Mooney single-handedly entertained audience “Moliere than Thou” packed the Preus-Brandt Forum on Monday, Oct. 4… Mooney interacted with the audience by reciting his rhyming verses and making his way through the rows of people, even crawling over seats… compelling them to burst into laughter.

Canon Beach, Oregon
Anticipating an event for some 40 high school theatre teachers in Oregon, I was trying to pull together the latest variation of my book (new chapter available at http://actingatthespeedoflife.blogspot.com/ ) so that I could show it off the teachers who might want to buy a copy. I wasn’t able to actually “publish” the book in time (still working on the index), but I managed to photocopy the book back-to-front in such a way that I actually got a sense of what it would feel like to flip through the book (now fitting onto half as many pieces of paper!).

The Oregon event rocked, with interest in both my upcoming book and my bookings. I even dropped by a previous venue on my way to the conference, and they were like: “Tim! We were just talking about booking you again! What dates are you available next?”

Racing back through Portland, I visited with Bruce, my webmaster, about new plans for the websites, particularly featuring the new book. (As a self-publisher, I am calling my publishing venture “TMRT Press” after the “Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre.”)

Western Washington, from Interstate 90
I haven’t been able to book anything in Washington State for ages, but my Seattle buddy, David, has a great basement apartment, and throws terrific parties. As such, he invited a bunch of friends over, and I did Lot o’ Shakespeare for them (forgetting lines for several monologues…!). David and I went to catch a performance of “Doctor in Spite of Himself” at the Intiman Theatre (which has been getting great reviews on-line). Much like the “Scapin” at A.C.T., it was flush with contemporary references and playful clowning… The serious theatre-goers ate it up, and I enjoyed some of the schtick, but still mostly preferred the lines of my variations.

I headed for Coeur d’Alene, and my friends at North Idaho College. I dropped in on a couple of Joe Jacoby’s classes, and performed “Criteria” for them that night. My last go-around with “Criteria” had been for a large group of Japanese exchange students, so I was relieved to be reminded that it DOES, indeed, work, and that students DO pick up on the subtleties hidden in the subtext, as well as getting really revved up with the climax of the thriller. (I also tried out some of my poetry on a handful of students who stuck around for an "encore.")

This review appeared in the NIC school paper:

Mooney tells story of divided U.S., invokes laughter with 'Criteria' Mooney physically and verbally tells this story in such a way that he takes the audience along for the ride, running and leaping over imagined obstacles while delivering descriptive monologue. He gives every fiber of his being to paint a mental picture for his audience … This stirring look at a bleak potential future is a captivating analysis of the social problems of our day and specifically how the real burden will be felt by the generations to come. –Keith Sande, NIC Sentinel
I visited Joe Proctor in Montana, and several friends in Minneapolis before dropping back to Chicago for a few days, just in time for the anniversary of my mom’s passing one year ago.

Onward to Michigan, I dropped in on one of Isaac’s swim meets, before continuing on to Saginaw, Michigan, and a performance of “Moliere Than Thou” at Saginaw Valley State University.

The French teacher there was a big enthusiast, and brought me in to address her French class. The theatre was a large recital hall, and the audience started low in their reactions, but seemed to build from one scene to the next. The Tartuffe volunteer scene won the audience over, as the volunteer, encouraged by the cameraman, who she was sitting next to, was a very young girl.  (I finally got the opportunity to use a line that I’d meant to improvise at a similar event years before: “Do your parents KNOW the meaning of the word ‘seduce?’”)

The next day, a “Google Alert” set to my name informed me that a student who saw the Saginaw show had blogged about it:

Yesterday, I went to a play called "Moliere Than Thou". I thought it would be all educational and stuff, because I was going for my French class, but it was completely hilarious. 
This guy, Tim Mooney, translated a ton of Moliere plays into rhymed English and in "Moliere Than Thou", he plays Moliere performing a bunch of his greatest hits. Goodness, it was funny. He calls women in the audience up to the stage to help him perform, and pretty much all of his characters... like to seduce women. So... lots of girls got seduced. Including some girl who volunteered and turned out to be, like, twelve. 
That was kind of awkward.
Likewise, the host wrote:
Thanks again for an amazing performance and workshop!! My students are still talking about it... I am hoping we can have you come back again in the not-too-distant future!
I found out that your underage seduction victim was the sister of one of my students, and her parents have given the OK to post the video. My students keep talking about this moment in particular, so I'd love to see this on Youtube, along with any of the other "seduction" scenes, which were so funny…! (Julie Foss)


 
The next day I was racing through some near-tornado conditions to Cincinnati, with a show at Northern Kentucky University that night. This is the third time that NKU has brought me in, but this time, the French teacher teamed up with a number of allies in the area. Applying for a matching grant from Kirsten’s program, she was encouraged to seek broad support and recruit an audience widely. Whereas past performances at NKU were to modest groups of a few dozen, this time some 220 or so attended, including dignitaries from the French “sister city” of Cincinnati.

From the host:

You were wonderful.  The French officials and all the AF and AATF members were more than pleased with your performance (and that is a major compliment!) for having been the President of the AF of Cincy for two years and a board member for even longer, I know only too well how critical the French can be… We had 40 participants in the workshop and 220 at the show, and those numbers are amazing at NKU--even more amazing than normal when one considers the weather of the day. (Barbara Klaw)
From one of the high school French teachers in attendance (writing to Barbara Klaw):

Thank you for bringing about last night's program.  Our students really enjoyed it, as did our teachers.  Cassidy, the first to join Mr. Mooney on the stage, is a student of French and of drama, so she was "on cloud nine!" Our drama teacher was with our group, and she is planning to do "Tartuffe" with the students this winter, so she was thrilled to be able to see how Mooney handled the various characters and costuming. Une vraie rĂ©ussite!  Grand merci, (Maureen Motsinger)
From the Drama teacher (who bought a copy of my Tartuffe script):

It was a joy watching your performance (at NKU) and I am also delighted with your script!  Great advice to directors, especially high school and college, who try to impose their brand when Moliere has already branded it. I would be most grateful for additional advice regarding exercises to help young actors perform the physicality, demands of timing, and language. I mentioned that I directed Scapino! and am comfortable with farce, but the verse seems more challenging and I am concerned about a sing songy quality dominating the rhythm rather than the intentions of the characters. You said you are working on a book, which I would love to get a copy of when it’s finished, but in the meantime I would be most grateful for any pearls of wisdom you can share. (Mandy Volpenheim, Scott High School)
[For those of you who might be thinking the same thing, the book is indeed coming along (Due on Moliere’s birthday, January 15!), with FREE chapters now available at http://actingatthespeedoflife.blogspot.com/ .]

Back to Steubenville, Ohio, where they were producing my Bourgeois Gentleman, I holed up in a hotel working on e-mails to Shakespeare Festivals (promoting Lot o’ Shakespeare), and actually arrived late to the rehearsal I was dropping in on. (My computer clock was still set to Central Time!) The rehearsal was terrific though, and I later learned that one of the actors spotted me in the back of the audience, and word spread rapidly through the cast that the author was in the house!

From the director, a couple of weeks later:

After much labor it would seem that we ended up with a highly successful production of The Bourgeois Gentleman. We played to mostly full houses, had several return customers, and I've been receiving messages from many colleagues who were absolutely delighted by the show. One of the most rewarding aspects of it all: the cast had the time of their lives. … Thanks so much for the gift of your script and for the many measures you took to help us bring this show to life!  (Monica Anderson)
That same weekend I had a similar experience, as I went to the Millersville University version of my School for Husbands in its world premiere!

I’d had virtually no contact with this school, mostly communicating through the production manager, and was thereby delightfully surprised to see just how effectively they’d captured the style of the play.

This was a script that I’d written some 13 years ago, and it was terrific to find that it felt fresh and sharp… and that they hadn’t felt the need to “screw with it” to make it funny. In fact, never having actually seen it on its feet before, I was pleasantly surprised to see how charming the presentation was.

In fact, I videotaped the performance for them, and you can find the entire show on my YouTube channel. Here’s a sample scene:

The next nine days featured six shows and eleven workshops in quick succession! Gettysburg College was a VERY fun show. Even though the Theatre students were almost all in rehearsal the night of my performance, the French folks PACKED the place, with a standing room only crowd. Afterwards, a fellow who’d been trying to book me for almost 10 years came up to introduce himself! (I’d long ago given up on ever getting to do the show for him!)

The teacher noted:
It was wonderful and the students are raving about it in class! I believe it was by far the most attended and successful event we have had since the start of National French Week 8 years ago! I hope we'll be able to bring you back! (Florence Ramond Jurney)
Zipping down Interstate 81, along the “spine” of western Virginia to a show at Virginia Intermont College, I was inundated with Facebook messages, wishing me a “Happy Birthday”. Given that this was the year AFTER the “big one,” I wasn’t planning on making a big deal out of it (thus scheduling a show on the day of, and the day after it), but once the Facebook universe gets hold of an idea, they go wild.

Some hundred or so messages and replies later, I ran a Commedia workshop at Virginia Intermont, followed by a fun “Moliere Than Thou.”

The next morning I was off to Charleston, West Virginia, and the West Virginia Theatre Conference. The host there, Dennis Wemm, had brought me in to perform twice previously, and has given me some terrific endorsements over the years. When I walked into the lobby of the venue, Dennis and two of his cohorts sang “Happy Birthday” to me in lush three-part harmony.

Given that I’d not performed this show since Seattle (when my lines were pretty shaky), I’d been reciting Shakespeare pretty obsessively for the past week or so.

By show time, I was geared up and ready, but the (union) technicians insisted that I wear a microphone through the course of the show. (“We need to be able to hear you backstage so that we can operate the slide show properly.”) Rather than risk losing the slide show, I allowed them to hook me up with a lapel mic, but resented it more and more as the show went on, particularly as the monitor backstage was so loud that I could hear my own voice coming back at me, and, since my voice was never intended to come through the main speakers, the audience assumed that the mic that I was wearing was broken (as opposed to appreciating how well I was projecting). Also, the attendance was very low, with only about twenty of the hundred or so participating in the festival coming out for Shakespeare.

Those who WERE present, though, were very responsive, and the show warmed up as it went, with several well-received monologues, though none so popular as the Julius Caesar piece. (Three out of four people tend to cite that one as their favorite.)

The next morning, I delivered my usual “Acting in the Classical Theatre” workshop, featuring my usual “Being seen and being heard” lecture, but in the middle of the event, all of the lights in the theatre went out! (Ironic, n’cest pas?) Fortunately, I was just about to launch into a monologue that I knew by heart, and the students actually listened much more attentively in the dark. A few people lit their cell phones and their laptops, at least until the union stagehands came in to chase us out of the darkened theatre.

South Carolina’s Columbia College put me up in a guest house, with a lovely package of snacks and provisions waiting in the refrigerator. Arriving a day in advance, I had plenty of time to run all of the Shakespeare monologues onstage, figuring out just when I would be using the stage itself, and when I’d descend into the “pit” area in front of the first row. I also managed to arrange for a student to videotape the show, and captured the best footage I’ve gotten of the show so far.

While the performance itself was going extremely well, with hoots and cheers going up with the completion of each monologue, I found myself searching the audience for men to “cast,” to speak to a “Romeo,” for instance, or the evil brothers in “Titus Andronicus,” but the only men I could spot were several rows back. It wasn’t until I mentioned this, casually to my host that she noted that this was actually an all-female college.

Up early the next morning, I raced up to Spartanburg, SC, with a Shakespeare performance at the Spartanburg Day School. As opposed to the long prep time for the Columbia College show, this time I arrived at 7:30 and started the performance at 9 am. I was on an open platform in a room with tall windows flooding the space with light, so there was little sense in making adjustments beyond than running the usual simultaneous slide show.

There were about 150 students in the audience and, though this group was drawn from the general student population, after a few monologues they really seemed to get into the rhythm of the thing. I was very aware of the evident pleasure of the faculty sitting towards the back, as they responded to the effectiveness of the Shakespearean monologues that they had spent so much of their careers advocating.

This theme continued to play out over the next three days, as I dropped in on one French class, one Theatre class and six English classes. In the English classes, I was largely able to play “Shakespeare Jukebox” with them, chatting about the performance value of the words themselves, and demonstrating with monologues. (Again, Julius Caesar was the overwhelming favorite, requested for almost every class.) One teacher wrote to say:

I think your work with the kids was the best and most substantive of any visiting artist during my time at SDS. (David McPherson)
I raced off once more, with a Shakespeare show that same night in Florence, South Carolina, at Frances Marion University (where I’d performed Moliere three years prior), and by this time, I was feeling in the groove of Shakespeare. With four performances in less than a week, in four very different settings, I was comfortable adapting to whatever new environment was thrown my way.

My host, Jon Tuttle, a playwright-friend, whose “The Hammerstone” I’d produced back when I was running Stage Two about sixteen years ago, was again quite happy with the results, although we seemed to enjoy going out for beer just as much as the performance itself. With some 200 people showing up and enjoying Shakespeare, Jon’s response was the same as three years prior: “Thanks for making me look good!”


Later, the school newspaper chimed in:

Tim Mooney makes Shakespeare accessible
...He performed sonnets, comedies, tragedies and histories. One minute, he was wielding a sword and calling for bravery as the title character of "Henry V," and the next he was enthusiastically discussing possible sexual exploits as the plump Falstaff in "Merry Wives of Windsor." Mooney showed a great deal of memorization, range and overall talent as he moved through monologues. One student, history major Debra Walters, was thrilled by the performance. "I was enthralled. My favorite [monologue] was 'Henry V'," Walters said. "As a historian, that was my favorite." 

Tuttle also had nothing but good things to say about Mooney and his performance. "I also enjoy anything Tim Mooney does," Tuttle said. "He's such a tireless, generous performer and a good person." Mooney told the audience that one of his goals with "Lot O' Shakespeare" was to show people that Shakespeare is not boring, that it can be understood and enjoyed by anybody. If the audience reaction is any indication, Tim Mooney seems to have accomplished this goal at FMU. (Shannon Pratt, The Patriot News)

Dad and Maureen

And with that, the Fall tour was complete. I took a run up to Norfolk, Virginia to drop in on Dad, Maureen and her husband, Tim, in their new home on the Chesapeake Bay. I spent a couple of days walking around, spotting dolphins and watching football, before taking off for Chattanooga.

I spent two days driving around Chattanooga, learning about its neighborhoods, all the while looking for “For Rent” signs. The better neighborhoods didn’t seem to have these signs up, and so I started drawing on my resources, checking in with my friends in the area and putting an ad up on Craigslist.

Chickamauga Horse Farm
One response to the Craigslist ad came in after I’d already made my way back to Chicago: a horse farm about 20 miles south of Chattanooga, in the mountains of northern Georgia. After some last minute negotiations my good friend Sabra took a drive down to the horse farm to capture photos, and I decided to go for it.

As such, I will be moving to a horse farm in Northern Georgia right after Thanksgiving!

Yipes! That seems so funny to read in print!


In front of Chesapeake Bay

For now, this is a temporary move… something to bridge the winter break in somewhat warmer environs, now that the old homestead in Arlington Heights is up for sale, but I remain open to the possibility that I might fall in love with the area, or perhaps want to continue to explore new horizons in upcoming years. I’m sure, though, my path will continue to wind its way back through Chicago, now and again.

Love,
Tim

Temperature: 70s, dropping to the low 20s.
Discoveries: I’m so used to playing monologues for laughs, I’m not prepared for the wealth of emotion that they respond with when I do Shakespeare. The response to “Julius Caesar” has probably surprised me more than anybody. * The value of a play is not ALWAYS tied up in how much it manages to make the audience laugh. Sometimes, people like stories for the value of a good story. * School for Husbands, while less controversial or cutting edge than most of Moliere’s plays, is still a pleasing jewel-of-a-play. * Resist microphones! They never work the way you hope they will! And they undermine the value of the actual human voice! * Teachers are very relieved to hear the words that they’ve been teaching all these years, brought to life, making sense of the convoluted syntax that keeps students at such a distance.
Reading: The Shakespeare Wars by Ron Rosenbaum
On the i-pod: MC Lars The Graduate (featuring the funniest song ever written about Moby Dick.)
Attendance: 200+ 170 + 40 + 8 + 60 + 150 + 30 + 220 + 175 + 25 + 150 + 200 + 135 + 100 + 200 = 1563
Next show: Southeastern Oklahoma University, 1/24; Workshop at Texas Educational Theatre Assn 1/27-30.

Dolphin swimming in the Chesapeake Bay


Friday, September 24, 2010

The View From Here #146: IN, IL, PA, NC, IL, MO

My phone crashed!

I guess we’re used to hearing about my various computers crashing, but this time my phone crashed, and with it all of my numbers and addresses!

If you’re a faithful (more or less) reader of The View From Here, this would be the perfect time to e-mail me your name/address/phone number (to tim@timmooneyrep.com) so that I can make sure that I’ve got you entered into my hot new 3G/4G-coolest-phone-ever… which I am desperately trying to figure out how to make work, even as I type these words.

And, while you’re sending me your info… here’s another thought…

I’ve spent this summer doing about four new drafts on the new book: Acting at the Speed of Life, and I’ve got 99.9% of my typos squeezed out of the text, and the narrative trimmed down to fighting weight.

It expands on my workshop, Acting in the Classical Theatre, introduces some other ideas and exercises, and captures some wry and (if-I-do-say-so-myself) hilarious anecdotes and life lessons as well. The book (260 pp, give or take) is right on the brink of completion, and I am planning to have it self-published by Moliere's birthday, January 15, 2011, if not before. (Selling for $19.95 plus shipping.)

For a limited time, you can order a copy of the very first edition!

If this sounds like the sort of thing that you want for your personal library (or your acting class, or your cast…), then please mention that in your e-mail to tim@timmooneyrep.com  (I’ll even autograph it if you want!…or… not.) You don’t have to pay for it now, but if I know that you want a copy, I can adjust my numbers to the anticipated size of the order!

IN THE MEANTIME... in case you're not sure if it's something you'll want ... I am starting a NEW BLOG!!!

I am going to release selected chapters of the new book to my new blog! I'll be uploading a new chapter every week! Given that some of you are more interested in Moliere from the French perspective, than the Acting perspective, I don't want to drag you through a lot of my wonky Acting theories (actually, they're not wonky AT ALL! That's me feigning humility...), and so, when you send this ALL-IMPORTANT E-MAIL back to me(!), do let me know if you'd like to be on the list for the new blog! (Which you can find: HERE.)

I'll be putting chapters out in somewhat random order, and once the book is published, I expect I'll be using the new blog for other postings on acting and the theatre. (Once I start something like this, I generally find something to continue to talk about...!)

In OTHER publishing news…

In honor of my 15th script published through Playscripts, Inc, they have made me this month’s “Featured Playwright” in their newsletter that just went out to some 25,000 producers and theatre practitioners. In it, they include my bio and my answers to four interview questions, as follows:

Timothy Mooney
Timothy Mooney has given tens of thousands of students their first introduction to Moliere through his one-man play, Moliere Than Thou. He has written seventeen iambic pentameter variations of the plays of Moliere, produced around the world. High School productions of Mr. Mooney's The Misanthrope, The Miser, The Imaginary Invalid, and Tartuffe have gone on to state finals in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama. Mr. Mooney continues to present Moliere across North America, while teaching classical acting and performing his other one-man shows, including the sci-fi thriller Criteria and Lot o' Shakespeare!
What made you decide to become a playwright?
When I was an actor, I believed that it was the directors who got all of the power and control, but when I was a director I could see that that person was really the playwright... though, now that I'm the playwright, the life of an actor looks pretty good.
What's the best thing about being a playwright?
Stumbling onto the perfect word at two in the morning, that makes me howl with laughter as I write it, and then discovering, years later, that same word makes an audience, likewise, howl with laughter.Why have you made Playscripts the home for your plays?
I could see Playscripts leading the play publishing universe (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the current century, using the power of the internet, both as a distributive and an interactive force, without skimping on the books-in-hand that are such a tactile joy.
What are you working on now?
When not on tour performing Moliere Than Thou or Lot o' Shakespeare, I'm working on an acting book, (Acting at the Speed of Life) aimed at supporting actors who are tackling classical material.



But back to “The View From Here!” Where last we left me, I was wrapping up the Indianapolis Fringe! The last two Indy shows went well, though the full houses I’d hoped for never quite materialized. The next to last show was the last show of the day in my space, so the technician let me run over. I don’t know if a 75 minute show is simply a better time span to grasp the vastness of Shakespeare’s vision, but the response was exceptionally enthusiastic, ending with a standing ovation. Then, to top things off, on the final, Saturday show, I took a lot of requests (once the t-shirt had been won via the random bingo-spin), and afterwards, seemingly about half of the audience came up to put tips in my tip jar!

For one scene, I requested a volunteer for the sexual harassment scene of Measure for Measure, and a girl volunteered, noting “What’s the difference? I get that at work every day!”

April and her daughter Amber came down to see that show, and Amber ran the video camera so that we could capture some fresh video which would feature the new costume. (captured on a new video camera, purchased after my last camera was stolen in Minneapolis…!)

We drove back to Chicago right after that performance, and I got back just as the Chicago Fringe was getting underway, with the opening night party that same night!

The Chicago performances were thinly attended… On the one hand, I didn’t know who in Chicago to invite who hadn’t seen the show already! And then when I saw the conditions of the auditorium, with audience seated on boards stretched across cinder blocks in an un-air-conditioned room (I thought of this as the Theatre Gulag!), I was hesitant to promote it. Even so, several close friends came, including Michael Herzovi, who I hadn't seen since college, and my friend, Linda, from Dramatic Publishing.

I managed to get through the festival without doing too much harm to my dignity, with audiences of 8, 9, 5, 15 and 20 over the five performances, and got packed and onto the road the very next day with the official start of the fall tour.

And with that particular departure, I said au revoir to Dad, who, by the time of my first return, would be on the road himself. After 48 years in the same house, he was moving to Norfolk, Virginia, where he now lives with my sister, Maureen, and her husband, Tim. It’s the end of an era…

First stop: Detroit, and dinner and a movie with Isaac.

Then, on to Steubenville, Ohio, where I would be performing Moliere Than Thou, and doing workshops with the students, who were working on a production of my version of Bourgeois Gentleman.

The show was a blast. The theatre was almost packed, with a group of students that had bussed in from about an hour away. The video doesn’t quite capture the electricity of the event, (which was so edgy that there were a couple of walkouts during the Tartuffe scene), but there was one very memorable ad-lib sequence (below), when I apparently stumbled across a reviewer while climbing through the audience.

The workshops the next day were almost as good. I did an hour in the afternoon about “the business side” of acting, followed by Acting in the Classical Theatre, which seems to have significantly improved, after all of the time that I’ve spent on the book this past summer. The actors in Bourgeois Gentleman were listening very attentatively, and we did a little bit of extra exploration with monologues and scenes from that show. One of the exercises went so well, that I immediately went back to my computer and added a chapter to the book, while integrating the exercise into my workshop lineup. (It was one of those scenes where the actors speak in fragments of lines of verse, with several one or two-word lines combining to make up larger lines, and four actors working together to create order in the midst of chaos.)

I got the chance to try out that new material almost immediately, as my next stop, at Wake Forest University, was bringing me in for workshops only. They, too, were producing a Moliere play, though not one of my scripts, and I did a French class, a Theatre workshop and a combined Life-of-Moliere workshop.

They put me up in the poshest hotel I think I’ve ever been in. It was a grand mansion.

My host pointed out at least twice before the final workshop that I would have access to a dressing room, so I took that as a sign that they would really like this workshop done in costume. Given that I’d already given much of my Life of Moliere material to the French class earlier on, I donned some of the Moliere costume for the evening workshop, and added as much performance to this event as I had stored away in my memory. All seemed pleased and even the director of the Moliere production, who’d chosen some OTHER translator for her text, seemed to appreciate the stylistic direction that my workshop was promoting.

I headed home the next day, making it as far as Indianapolis, where I met up once again with the host of the Fringe Festival, who was now engaging in serious conversations about hosting all four of my one-man shows as part of a two week One-Man-One-Man Theatre Festival this coming May. It also happened that a big booking conference was going on in town, and I stuck around the next morning, to hang out in the exhibit hall for an hour or so, running into a bunch of people that I’d met on the booking conference circuit.

Back home. I had a show at Dominican University the next day, which was very well received. The French professor ran the video camera, so I came away with a bit of footage on that one. And, like many of my recent bookings, I was actively promoting the Shakespeare show as an effective follow-up for next year.

That weekend the old homestead seemed quiet and empty. I was working on getting the Shakespeare show back up to speed, and putting together a photo session. April took pictures of the new show (the product of which you’ve seen scattered throughout, above). A few weeks ago, I’d gotten an offer from Marcus Fernando, a good friend from the Canadian Fringe circuit several years back, that if I needed any help with photoshopping, that he’d be happy to contribute his talents… and so I sent to him some of the best shots that April had captured, and he almost immediately turned around the PERFECT composite photo below.



Off again… this time to St. Joseph, Missouri, with performances of both Moliere and Shakespeare in a single night! Last March, with the very first public performance of Lot o’ Shakespeare, I'd also done both, feeling extremely apprehensive, but LoS had grown a lot since last March, and I was confident enough that either show might stand on their own.

But together…? I thought their heads were going to explode!

MTT went about as well as some of my best performances, with an audience of perhaps 150 responding raucously, and a standing ovation at the end. LoS was almost as successful… with several t-shirts sold after the fact, and enthusiastic students coming up to shake my hand.

The next morning, I was pushing west, with a stop in Kearney, Nebraska, droping in on a friend from UN-Kearney and then on to Denver, CO, to check in with friends from DU, all of whom continue to talk about wanting to book another show.

I’ve had a bit of down time before my Monday, October 4 show at California Lutheran, and holing up in Salt Lake City, Fresno and L.A., I've managed to do some final prep-work on “The Book”.

Okay, now that you’ve read all the way through to the end… don’t forget your assignment from the beginning of this newsletter:

Send me your contact info (address/phone to tim@timmooneyrep.com), and indicate if you’d like to order a copy (or copies) of the new book, or to be added to the new blog list!

Love,
Tim

Miles on the Escape: 36,000
Temperature: 90s falling to the 50s
Discoveries: I was actually relieved that my phone crashed, as finally I could get a phone that wasn’t dependent on Palm Software, which enabled me to get the very flashy Evo! * The real entertainment value of farce comedies performed in verse is seeing just how, even in the very formal structure of verse, riotous chaos can ensue.
Next performances: California Lutheran University, 10/4; Rogue Theatre Festival, 10/5
On the I-Pod: Kate Nash, Shakira, The Killers

Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre Tour Schedule
(Available dates in CAPITAL LETTERS; Already-booked dates in GREEN; Pending bookings in PURPLE) )

FALL 2010
10/4 California Lutheran U, Thousand Oaks, CA
10/5-7 CALIFORNIA / OREGON
10/8 Oregon Theatre Arts Association, Cannon Beach, OR
10/8-9 OREGON / WASHINGTON
10/10-11 WASHINGTON / OREGON
10/12 North Idaho College, Coeur d’Alene, ID
10/13 IDAHO / MONTANA / UTAH
10/14 UTAH / COLORADO / MONTANA
10/15-16 WYOMING / SOUTH/NORTH DAKOTA / NEBRASKA
10/17-18 MINNESOTA
10/10 U-Wisconsin-GB, Green Bay, WI
10/20 WISCONSIN / ILLINOIS
10/21-22 ILLINOIS / INDIANA / MICHIGAN / IOWA
10/23-24 INDIANA / MICHIGAN
10/25 Saginaw Valley State University, Saginaw, MI
10/26 Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, KY
10/27 KENTUCKY
10/28-29 PENNSYLVANIA / NEW YORK
10/30-31 NEW YORK / NEW ENGLAND
11/1 NEW ENGLAND
11/2 Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA
11/3 NEW JERSEY / DELAWARE / MARYLAND / DC
11/4 Virginia Intermont College, Bristol, VA
11/5-6 West Virginia Theatre Association
11/7 SOUTH CAROLINA
11/8 Columbia College, Columbia, SC
11/9-10 Spartanburg Day School, Spartanburg, SC
11/11 Francis Marion University, Florence, SC
11/12-13 SOUTH CAROLINA / GEORGIA / FLORIDA
11/14-15 TENNESSEE / ALABAMA / MISSISSIPPI
11/16-17 ARKANSAS / LOUISIANA
11/18-22 TEXAS
11/23-24 OKLAHOMA / KANSAS / MISSOURI / IOWA / ILLINOIS
11/25-28 THANKSGIVING
11/29-12/11 TENNESSEE

WINTER/SPRING 2011
1/17-18 TENNESSEE
1/19-20 MISSISSIPPI / ALABAMA
1/21 Southeast Oklahoma University, Durant, OK
1/22-23 ARKANSAS / LOUISIANA / OKLAHOMA
1/24-26 TEXAS
1/27-30 Texas Educational Theatre Association, Houston, TX
1/31-2/1 LOUISIANA / MISSISSIPPI / ARKANSAS
2/2 ALABAMA / GEORGIA
2/3 FLORIDA
2/4-5 Highlands Little Theatre, Sebring, FL
2/6-7 FLORIDA
2/8-10 GEORGIA / TENNESSEE / NORTH CAROLINA
2/25-3/1 Alabama Thespian Festival/Randolph School, Huntsville, AL
3/2-6 SETC, Atlanta, GA
3/7 TENNESSEE / KENTUCKY
3/8 Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, WV
3/9-10 WEST VIRGINIA / OHIO / INDIANA
3/10-13 Pathways to Successful Living Seminar
3/15 Monmouth College, Monmouth, IL
3/14-17 MICHIGAN / MISSOURI / WISCONSIN / ILLINOIS / OHIO /INDIANA
3/18 U-Penn-Fayette, Fayette, PA
3/19-22 PENNSYLVANIA / NEW YORK / NEW ENGLAND
3/23-24 NEW JERSEY / DELAWARE / MARYLAND / DC / VIRGINIA
3/25-27 VIRGINIA / NORTH/SOUTH CAROLINA
3/28-31 GEORGIA / FLORIDA
4/1-2 GEORGIA / ALABAMA / TENNESSEE / MISSISSIPPI
4/3-4 MISSISSIPPI / ARKANSAS / LOUISIANA / MISSOURI / TEXAS
4/5 Texas Wesleyan University, Ft. Worth, TX
4/5-8 TEXAS / OKLAHOMA
4/9-11 KANSAS / MISSOURI
4/12-13NEBRASKA / IOWA
4/14 Saint John’s Prep, Collegeville, MN
4/15-16 MINNESOTA / WISCONSIN
4/17-18 NORTH DAKOTA / SOUTH DAKOTA / COLORADO
4/19-21MONTANA / IDAHO / UTAH / NEVADA
4/22-25 WASHINGTON / OREGON
4/26-30 CALIFORNIA
5/1-3 NEVADA / ARIZONA / NEW MEXICO
5/4-6 UTAH / COLORADO
5/6-9 TEXAS / OKLAHOMA
5/9-13 LOUISIANA / ARKANSAS / MISSISSIPPI / ALABAMA

SUMMER, 2011
5/5-15 Indianapolis, Indiana
5/19-29 (est) Orlando Fringe Festival
6/20-26 American Association of Community Theatre, Rochester, NY

FALL 2011
8/25-10/9 University of Central Oklahoma: Directing “Tartuffe”
10/10 KANSAS
10/11 KANSAS / NEBRASKA
10/12 COLORADO / WYOMING
10/13 COLORADO / UTAH
10/14 (N) NEVADA / UTAH / IDAHO
10/15-16 (N) CALIFORNIA / OREGON
10/17-18 OREGON / WASHINGTON
10/19 IDAHO / MONTANA
10/20 MONTANA / WYOMING
10/21 NORTH/SOUTH DAKOTA / NEBRASKA
10/22-23 MINNESOTA / IOWA
10/24 IOWA /MISSOURI / MINNESOTA / WISCONSIN
10/25 MISSOURI / WISCONSIN / ILLINOIS
10/26 ILLINOIS
10/27 ILLINOIS / INDIANA
10/28 INDIANA / MICHIGAN
10/29-30 MICHIGAN
10/31 INDIANA / OHIO
11/1 KENTUCKY / OHIO
11/2 KENTUCKY / TENNESSEE
11/3 TENNESSEE
11/4 TENNESSEE / WEST VIRGINIA
11/5 WEST VIRGINIA
11/6 WEST VIRGINIA / PENNSYLVANIA
11/7 PENNSYLVANIA / NEW YORK
11/8 NEW YORK / NEW ENGLAND
11/9 NEW ENGLAND
11/10 NEW ENGLAND / NEW JERSEY
11/11 NEW JERSEY / DELAWARE /MARYLAND / D.C.
11/12-13 MARYLAND
11/14 VIRGINIA
11/15 VIRGINIA / NORTH CAROLINA
11/16 NORTH/SOUTH CAROLINA
11/17 SOUTH CAROLINA / GEORGIA
11/18-20 GEORGIA / FLORIDA
11/21-23 FLORIDA
11/24-27 Thanksgiving Break
11/28 GEORGIA / ALABAMA
11/29 ALABAMA / MISSISSIPPI
11/30 Louisiana Tech, Ruston, LA
12/1-4 ARKANSAS / LOUISIANA / TEXAS
12/5-6 NEW MEXICO / ARIZONA
12/7-11 CALIFORNIA
12/12 NEVADA
12/13 UTAH
12/14 COLORADO
12/15 KANSAS
12/16-17 MISSOURI

WINTER-SPRING 2012
1/2-2/25 GUEST ARTIST OPENING
2/27 WASHINGTON / OREGON or KANSAS / COLORADO
2/28 OREGON / CALIFORNIA or UTAH / COLORADO
2/29 CALIFORNIA or NEVADA
3/1-2 CALIFORNIA
3/3 ARIZONA
3/4 NEW MEXICO
3/5-6 TEXAS
3/7 TEXAS / LOUISIANA
3/8 LOUISIANA / MISSISSIPPI / ALABAMA
3/9 ALABAMA / GEORGIA / SETC
3/9-11 SETC
3/12-13 FLORIDA
3/14 GEORGIA
3/15 SOUTH CAROLINA
3/16-17 NORTH CAROLINA
3/18 NORTH CAROLINA / TENNESSEE
3/19 TENNESSEE / GEORGIA
3/20 ALABAMA / TENNESSEE
3/21 ARKANSAS / MISSOURI
3/22 ARKANSAS / OKLAHOMA / MISSOURI
3/23 NEW MEXICO / KANSAS / COLORADO
3/24-25 COLORADO
3/26 COLORADO / UTAH / WYOMING
3/27 UTAH / NEVADA
3/28 NEVADA / IDAHO
3/29 OREGON
3/30 WASHINGTON
3/31-4/1 WASHINGTON / IDAHO
4/2 IDAHO
4/3 IDAHO / MONTANA
4/4 MONTANA / WYOMING
4/5 MONTANA / NORTH/SOUTH DAKOTA
4/6 NEBRASKA / MINNESOTA / IOWA
4/7 IOWA / MISSOURI
4/8 MISSOURI
4/9 MISSOURI / ILLINOIS
4/10 ILLINOIS / KENTUCKY
4/11 KENTUCKY / INDIANA
4/12 INDIANA / OHIO
4/13 OHIO / WEST VIRGINIA
4/14-16 VIRGINIA
4/17 MARYLAND / DELAWARE / D.C.
4/18 NEW JERSEY / PENNSYLVANIA
4/19 PENNSYLVANIA / NEW YORK / NEW ENGLAND
4/20-23 NEW ENGLAND
4/24 NEW YORK
4/25 NEW YORK / PENNSYLVANIA
4/26 PENNSYLVANIA / OHIO
4/27-29 MICHIGAN
4/30 INDIANA / ILLINOIS
5/1-2 ILLINOIS / WISCONSIN
5/3 WISCONSIN / MINNESOTA
5/4 MINNESOTA

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The View From Here #145: MO, MN, IN

My brother Pat came out for one last visit to the old family home, and we spent a bit of time together, when I wasn't running my lines, or chasing down props, or editing my book.

I hung out in town for Anne Lucas & John Quigley’s wedding before taking off for Kansas City and the Kansas City Fringe Festival. I’d been working the two hours of Shakespeare material twice a day for the past week, and was waiting on several pieces to fall into place, while adding seven SONNETS to my collection of THIRTY-EIGHT monologues! (People kept asking me if I was doing sonnets, too. I figured they must have had a good reason.)

April was working on final developments to the “slide show” that accompanies the performance (as well as the IAGO cards) and Kathleen, my costume designer, was putting together a brand new costume. Kathy was in Virginia, while I was in Chicago, and so she was sending me mock-ups and swatches in the mail, while I was guestimating how much the costume ought to be tightened or adjusted. (“I think the pumpkin breeches should be thinner by the volume of a cantaloupe, or a small football.”)


The final costume didn’t arrive until the day before I was to leave, and I only managed to rehearse about 25% of the material while wearing it, but it looked pretty rockin’ gorgeous.

The next morning, I was on the road to Kansas City, with a two-minute preview performance that night at Fringe Central… which was steamy hot! I managed to get the new costume nice and sweaty, while catching up with some old fringe friends, particularly Phillip Lowe and Kurt Fitzpatrick and meeting new ones, such as the casts of Grind and Revenge of Rumplepunchkin. (some in photo)

Also, I have a new sticker for this show, as featured on the belly of this member of the cast of Rumplepunchkin.

I was staying at my friend, Lisa’s house, and she had a second floor room that I could use for sleeping, working out and rehearsing. Fortunately it had an air conditioner in the window, as the weather was in the 90s the entire week! (I think the final day we topped 100!)

I had no show the first Monday of the Festival, and spent the time pulling some final details together, such as getting a 25 foot “S-Video” cord so that the technician could operate my slide show at a distance from the projector. Chris, my technician, worked for this particular venue, which meant that he was around all day, and I could come in whenever I wanted to rehearse. I spent most of the afternoon working my way through all of the monologues, testing the spatial relationship with the audience, and was glad to have the chance to think through all of these things before an actual audience was witnessing it. A couple of the monologues, and especially the sonnets were still feeling particularly “clunky”, and I pulled those ping pong balls out of the hopper, so that opening night, at least, would feature material that I was confident in. (The sonnets made for an excellent change of pace, but after one or two performances tripping over some shaky lines, I pulled those out of circulation, at least until the next fringe festival.)

As long as the video cord was, it still couldn’t reach up to the “booth,” and so we created a single light setting, ditched the single planned internal music cue, and Chris came down to stage level to operate the slides from the counter where they were also selling refreshments. When I pulled out a ping-pong ball, Chris would cue up the particular slide, so that the audience could “read along” portions of the text from the first folio, if they were so inclined.

As the week proceeded, with scant attendance (maybe an average of 20 for each performance) I found myself making adjustments to the “rules” of the game as it went. I was determined to establish the ultimate random nature of the IAGO game, which generally occupied the first 30 minutes of the show, but after having convinced the audience that I could do ANY of the monologues that came up, I started giving them the option of having me continue the show with “requests” or with monologues that were MY favorites. (They generally wanted me to do my own favorites.)

In general, I didn’t want to leave any of the performances without a showing of either Julius Caesar or Twelfth Night, as those two were more than double the length of the average monologue and evolved at a different pace than the other “quick hits.” “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…” especially, felt epic in stature. But some other monologues were also becoming favorites among the crowd, including Comedy of Errors, King John and Titus Andronicus.

Occasionally, I would choose to skip monologues, if only because the audience had seen a fair amount of “the obscure stuff” already, but in one instance I heard a bit of a groan going up from the crowd, and discovered that the audience member had actually come hoping, especially, to catch Timon of Athens. And so I went ahead and did that one, and later found out from the grateful patron that he was working on a degree in Shakespearean Studies, and his thesis project was Timon of Athens. (Apparently, my interpretation gave him some ideas for his project.)

A variety of responses were tugging me one way and another about the choices I was making. One fellow performer was disappointed when I would skip material, and didn’t like the audience interactive sequences. Another liked the audience interactive stuff, and was glad to have the sense that he was getting “the good stuff.” My own sense was that I didn’t want anybody in the audience to walk away feeling like they’d seen the show on a bad day, when all of the “wrong” balls came out.

(Illustration by Lee Howard)

Eventually, a 5-star review showed up on line at KCStage.com:

For the last two years, I’ve caught Alan Tilson at the Fringe, and I highly recommend seeing his show this year. This year, he's joined by another outstanding Shakespearean one-man-showman— Tim Mooney of Chicago — whom I also highly recommend.

In fact, how about a double-header: seeing both Mooney’s and Tilson’s shows? Then you can weigh in yourself on the KC Stage site as to whom (if either) you liked better by leaving your rating here.

The energetic and engaging Mooney introduces an element of chance to his show: his program is set by the Bingo balls he draws randomly from a spinning cage containing 38 of them — meaning he has this many scenes ready to go! One woman took away a Lot o’Shakespeare! T-shirt (also on sale) for her luck on the Bingo card we picked up with our tickets, and another took away a CD (also on sale) for her yeoman’s work in volunteering to read a couple of second parts on stage.

Along the way, we all were treated to a 54-minute tour de force comprising no fewer than 19 Shakespeare scenes and sonnets. A couple of times, the entire audience chimed in for a line or two by another character, in addition to the audience volunteer who joined Mooney onstage.

Mooney’s interpretations were outstanding, and not infrequently cast new light on obscure corners of Shakespeare’s work. Why did my high-school English teacher never point out Mercutio’s jealousy of Juliet, as Romeo’s spurned gay lover? Or the flagrant queen’s-ass-kissing in Henry VIII? Or the sexual-harassment element of Angelo in Measure for Measure? Sure would have spurred our adolescent interest in the not-so-boring bard of Avon!

Mooney’s interpretations were introduced by short, but illuminating commentary. Spur yourself over to the Off Broadway theater for this: Friday at 6:30, Saturday at 8 or Sunday at 3:30. Chiam Eliyahu, KCStage.com


In fact, the KC Fringe had chosen a somewhat hard-to-get-to venue, in an idyllic park setting, as their “Shakespeare Ghetto.” Myself and another Shakespeare monologist were in the same space, along with a burlesque show that used Shakespeare plays as a uniting theme. (two other Shakespeare-themed shows dropped out before opening night.) Since this venue had low sales in previous years, they’d hoped that the Shakespeare partnership might bring people out who would stick around to see all of the shows in the venue. They even encouraged us to buy an ad in the local Shakespeare Festival program to promote this event collectively. (This was predicated on the assumption that we, as perhaps competing interests, would actually bring ourselves to work together.)

Unfortunately, the crowd that comes out to see Shakespeare-themed burlesque, is not actually there for the “Shakespeare” part of the equation. They played to an audience of 100 one night, and I flyered that entire audience on their way out of the theatre, but did not see one of them in attendance at my performance which started a half-hour later. Meanwhile, the other Shakespeare monologue guy was getting even thinner audiences than mine, so the synergy was not happening. Between the cost of the festival entry, the flyers and the ad in the Shakespeare Festival program, I ended up losing money on this one.

A couple of days later, I was off to Minnesota, returning to my stand-up/poetry/ monologue show. This rather personal show is unlike anything I’ve tried before, though it seems to strike a strong chord with a lot of people. I avoid describing the specifics of it at length here, as I feel that I can’t do it justice out of context of the performance, and it may well seem too sensationalized to people who book my other shows.

Once again, I was staying with my friends, Dave and Klee, just a few blocks from the beautiful Minnehaha Falls, where I would go to run my lines almost every day while I was visiting. This year, the Minnesota Fringe seems to have completely recaptured its mojo since its stutter-step several years back with the collapse of the I-35 bridge on the first day of the Fringe. In fact the Minnesota Fringe ended up breaking their previous record with over 50,000 tickets sold, and an 8% improvement over the previous year, but again, venue was everything.

The festival was stretched out around four different neighborhoods in Minneapolis and (for the first time) St. Paul, but clearly the neighborhood to be in was the “West Bank,” where there were at least seven venues within walking distance of each other, as well as Fringe Central, the bar/theatre where everyone wound up at the end of a long night. In particular, shows in the “Rarig Center,” where four auditoria within spitting distance of each other, did very well. Audiences had a natural tendency to want to park their car once for the evening, and then walk about from show to show.

My venue, the Ritz Theatre Studio was in the Northeast quadrant of the city, with only one other venue adjacent to it. I only had sixty seats in my space, which was very intimate and made for a playful connection with the audience, but my audiences were averaging around thirty, even with April coming up to Minneapolis to help me with handing out flyers. Even so, the responses were terrific, and the major thing that this festival does right is organize their website. People check the site obsessively, and new audience reviews are constantly being posted. The Fringe “mascot” is a cartoon “kitty” cat, and the shows are rated by how many “kitties” they received. Out of 33 reviews submitted, I got one “zero kitty” review, one “two kitty” review, seven “four kitty” reviews and twenty four “five kitty” reviews.

Here are some of their comments:

do. not. miss. this. show. By mark milner Rating 5 kitties
remove mooney's glasses, shine a spotlight on the man, and he's a charisma machine… a wry and winning examination... do. not. miss. this. show.

wow. just wow. by Jess Pants Rating 5 kitties
So honest, so out there, so moving...this show really was amazing. I can't even find the words right now to accurately or fully describe what went on--for me--during the show this afternoon… For anyone who missed it, you better hope there is an encore performance of this piece.

Hilarious and provocative by Angela Polk Rating 5 kitties
… Not only was I entertained by Tim's tales, but after hearing them, I couldn't help but feel inspired to ruminate on my own experiences. I'd left them on the shelf to gather dust for years, and suddenly they were brought to light again by Tim's stories. Art that elicits that profound of a response is rare and wonderful, and I am grateful to Tim for taking us on such a journey… It is clear that he is a master of his craft; there is no sentence, gesture, facial expression, pause, or tone of voice that seems out of place. It's all expertly crafted and delivered. At the same time, it never feels like it's scripted or recited by rote, because his delivery is so honest. When Tim was telling his stories, it felt like a conversation with a friend--a friend you feel like you can really confide in, who also just happens to be fantastically witty... There is so much lighthearted charm, silliness, and exuberance in this show that I left with a smile on my face, feeling light, and filled with a certain joie de vivre.

Truly something special by Dave Stagner Rating 5 kitties
The confessional story is nothing new to Fringe... The good ones get past the personal, to the universal, to feelings that we can all understand and relate. Then there's Tim Mooney. Tim is best known as a stellar, professional actor and scholar of the works of great writers like Moliere and Shakespeare. His past Fringe performances have been driven by his rich, emotive, rock-solid acting. But this time, he turned that skill and power on his personal story, and the results are stunning... It feels powerful and brave on his part, and really turns that power back on the audience. And did I mention that large parts of the story are in iambic pentameter? His love and scholarship of the classics, and his skill in reading them, takes this confessional to levels of wit I've never seen in this sort of show before! As far as I'm concerned, it's a must-see, and the only show I've seen this Fringe that I intend to to see again. It's that good.

I've had a Fringe crush on Tim Mooney since seeing Moliere than Thou a few years ago, but didn't remember his name - until I got to the show. Oh boy! His style is entertaining and open, with a joyful, gleeful confessional bent. The stories themselves are perfectly scripted, hilarious and touching, and deeply personal. The kind of raw vulnerability he displays, without the slightest reservation, is rare and creates a sense of trust and confidence with the audience. Excellent and not to be missed. And the iambic pentameter... *fans self* by Bree Nolastnamesontheinternet Rating 5 kitties

Honest, bold and touching... Highly recommend. by kelly C. Rating 5 kitties

…Extremely funny, touching, clever... there was a kind of positive, celebratory energy in the theatre. I truly think Tim is the most energetic actor I've ever seen… Absolutely contagious. by Alina Mostov Rating 5 kitties

…Funny and well-delivered, as I've come to expect. I've yet to see any one-man show… done with as much poise as Tim always seems to have. ... by The Letter M Rating 5 kitties

…A commanding stage presence… Highly recommended. by Kale Ganann Rating 5 kitties

Definitely cathartic and thought-provoking. The perfect end to the Fringe. by Laurel Hansen Rating 5 kitties

What a fun show and so poetic. This was funny and sad, touching and challenging... by Lance Zarimba Rating 5 kitties

Possibly the best Fringe show I've seen in the last several years. Brilliantly written, deeply honest, and laugh-your-ass-off funny. Captivating from start to finish... by Amelie Poulin Rating 5 kitties

Tim Mooney is very funny, yet thought-provoking. The monologue was very tight and poetic, and his delivery is perfect... Go see it! by Tracy Anderson Rating 5 kitties

...This show, more than any other, tests the audiences willingness to - literally - get immersed on a personal level. by daniel taradash Rating 5 kitties


While the attendance in this venue was particularly low, it turned out that mine was the best attended show in the venue, which meant that I got the “encore” performance on Sunday evening of the Fringe. I’d assumed that the encore was going to another performer, and so when they announced this at the Saturday night party, I was really thrilled and gratified, and the excitement for the celebration went through the roof.

I can’t say quite the same for the final performance though. At the end of a long ten days of “fringing,” the audience seemed listless, and while some good friends came back to see the show a second time, this was mostly a quiet denoument to the event.

A quick stop home. Dad was getting closer to his planned move to his planned move out east to join my sister, Maureen. She and her husband, Tim, have found a rental house in Norfolk, Virginia that they are going to be moving to, probably in September/October, and Dad has planned one final party in the old homestead for this Sunday, August 29, starting at 2 pm. Come join us!

Next up: the Indianapolis Fringe Festival, a cozy billet with a couple on the Festival's board of directors in the northern reaches of Indianapolis, and a return to “Lot o’ Shakespeare!” Kathy, the costume designer, had worked a few refinements into the costume during the Minnesota Fringe, and April had updated the IAGO card somewhat, while putting together a sandwich board as an advertisement that would sit outside my venue.

I drove in, arriving just about thirty minutes in advance of a preview performance at the opening night festivities, and I did my All’s Well speech: “Are you meditating on virginity?...” which got some good response from the crowd.

The next day was my tech rehearsal, and the technician was extremely supportive, and able to run the slides, lights, AND sound from his position. It was a small venue, about the size of a couple of classrooms put together. The acoustics were deceptively challenging, as two dividers broke up the room into three sections which inhibited the free passage of sound from one area to the next.

I’d pretty much written this fringe off as an unlikely money-maker (and I still don’t expect to come away with a huge profit), but not knowing anybody in town, at a relatively “young” fringe (6 years old), I didn’t anticipate seeing a lot of people lining up to see the show.

But there, the first night, a good fifteen people, none of whom did I know, had found their way to the theatre. The show was really “on”, and the recent rehearsals seemed to have brought me to the next level with this performance. I was going at the characters more aggressively, putting out a lot of energy, attitude and volume. And the audience was responding. I could hear not only laughs, but also gasps, “wows” and the occasional “bravo!” Which only encouraged me to turn up the volume even more.

The second night, the energy felt just as strong, but the monologues that were popping out were more obscure. I was reminded of how I handled this in Kansas City, and by the third performance (back down to a dozen in the audience on a late Sunday night), I reinstituted the opportunity for the audience to make requests once the t-shirt had been won. They were glad for the opportunity, and started calling out for The Tempest, Macbeth, Much Ado and for The Sonnets. It felt like just the right mix of randomness and audience participation, as there was demonstrably no way I could have prepared for the requests that they were going to make. (I did slip in my own choice of Twelfth Night at one point.)

As it turned out, there was a blogger in attendance that evening (he took this photo with his phone), and his response was enthusiastic:
Lot o’ Shakespeare, by Jackodile (www.jackodile.com)

It’s Shakespeare, lottery style… with a little Bingo thrown in. Actually, it wasn’t really Bingo, but IAGO, named after the villain from Othello.
I have to admit, that I probably haven’t sat through this much Shakespeare since I was a grad student in Virginia and that was a production of Twelfth NightBeach Boys style. Because of my Shakespeare ignorance and a feeling that I needed to give myself a little educational entertainment, I chose to see Lot o’Shakespeare. Tim Mooney, the creator and performer, did not disappoint.

As Mooney explained, the concept for the show came from an idea that he could be ready at a moment’s notice to perform an audition monologue from any of Shakespeare’s plays. What resulted from his work in memorizing hours worth of monologues became the 60 minute show, Lot o’Shakespeare.

At the beginning all audience member are given an IAGO card, which was essentially a Bingo card. As Mooney would spin the lottery balls around one would fall out and that would direct him as to what play and monologue to perform. Then before each monologue, Mooney would give a one sentence explanation of the the scene and character.

The first ball was I18, Julius Caesar. That was a long, long monologue, but Mooney performed it with great passion and skill. Throughout the next 60 minutes, Mooney performed from Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Measure for Measure, King John, and Taming of the Shrew to name a few. Not only were all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in the repertoire, but all of his sonnets too.

After one of the audience members won the game of IAGO, Mooney then opened up the show to requests. I was very impressed that he was ready to dive into the next monologue without any real preparation. As soon as the play was called out, he would jump eagerly into explanation and then monologue. I have to admit that when requests were being shouted, I was tempted to call out Hamlet, but I was afraid that I would look too much like the Shakespeare amateur. So, I went without hearing “to be or not to be.”

Overall, this was a fun show to see. I enjoyed Mooney’s enthusiasm for the material. I also enjoyed the intimate community that was created in the audience as we laughed, applauded and yelled out requests. To sum it all up into one word, I’ll defer to the gentleman who sat in front of me, “Bravo!”

The blogger’s final reference was to a man sitting in the second row who was now in attendance for his third performance. He wanted to catch as many of the monologues as he could, and when I opened up the floor for requests, he asked me to choose the most obscure piece that I could think of… and so I did Two Noble Kinsmen for him.

 I’d been hoping for an Indianapolis Star review, as I was sure that would boost attendance, but there seemed to be none forthcoming (if one shows up, I’ll tack it on here). I did, however, get some exposure on Tuesday morning, as the local Fox Morning News affiliate featured performances from three groups that day, including two features from me, in the 7 am hour and the 9 am hour. The anchors, who I couldn’t hear from the venue where I was performing, seemed fairly clueless, but the reporter who was interviewing me was a nice guy, and the exposure seemed to have increased my attendance on Tuesday night. Of course, that might also have been the review from Jack Odile, or it might well have been a couple of other reviews that were showing up on-line:

First up was Lot O' Shakespeare. Timothy Mooney from Arlington Heights, IL. does Shakespeare monologues from every play and about 10 sonnets. The selections are different every performance and are dictated by numbered balls that come out of a LOTTO/Bingo dispenser. This is a great show and you actually play a form of BINGO renamed IAGO. I got a double IAGO and got a CD from one of his other shows. I do wonder if he's related to Mooney The Magnificent from the Ren. Faire circuit. I'll have to ask him. Taylor Martin


Great show. Should be a "must see" on your IndyFringe dance card. Don't miss it. Kevin B


Tuesday’s show was better than ever. I spotted a “laugher” in the audience before I even started, and I knew that it would go well. The first half dozen or so ping pong balls were all obscure ones, but even so I found myself attacking each one with a new sense of commitment and verve, never “surrendering” my hopes for the success of any given monologue, but reminding myself of the dramatic impact that originally drew me to it, however obscure the source might have been. Julius Caesar broke the succession of obscure monologues, and I’ve begun to introduce that one as perhaps “the greatest speech of all time.” This, of course, sets the bar pretty high for my performance, but if the audience is trusting my judgement by then, it gets them to listen with a renewed commitment. I could feel that paying off in the latter half of that monologue, and I could feel them “with me” in a breathless series of moments. As that piece concluded with Antony’s piercing call to “MUTINY!” one audience member actually stood up at her seat to give that monologue its own standing ovation!

With the audience choice phase of the performance, the loud laugher (who was practically reciting some of the lines along with me as I proceeded), insisted that I go back and pick up the Richard III monologue that I’d set aside when it came out the first time (I’d already done a Richard speech from Henry VI, Pt. 3.) And so, I followe through on that one, as well as Measure for Measure, As You Like It and a couple of Sonnets, before winding things up with Puck from Midsummer Night’s Dream. This time around, after the show I sold two extra t-shirts and a copy of my Misanthrope to an eager fan. At least one attendee was a Shakespeare scholar who’d recommended the performance to her students. And a couple of different local venues were starting to chat with me about booking several of my shows in their theatres!

Two more audience reviews showed up on line:

Caught his 6:00 show on Tuesday and what a fantastic show. Tim is extremely engaging and a true performer. My head is still reeling over his Antony speech from Julius Caesar. Definitely a must-see. Ryan Powell

Tim_Mooney_Kicks_Bottom. Tristan


And a couple of less universally positive reviews. I don’t agree with the conclusions that they reach, but I’ll resist the desire to comment:

Tim Mooney has memorized 40-plus Shakespeare soliloquies and sonnets with a promise to perform a surprise mix every show according to the whims of his spinning bingo cage. Even delivered out of context, the speeches of Richard III, King Lear and lesser-known Timon still stir our admiration for how the Bard's words jump and play. Unfortunately, Mooney is too steadily playful. His thin voice dips and rises and his hands fly, as if punctuating syllables hard will translate Elizabethan phrasing better and faster. Lot o' Shakespeare would be better if we got less and felt more. Josefa Beyer, Nuvo


With a monologue from each of Shakespeare's plays and some sonnets, Timothy Mooney invites audiences to play IAGO (his version of BINGO) randomly deciding what and when he performs. Mooney's feat of memorizing such a vast amount of language is no doubt impressive. His handle on Shakespeare's text makes for a completely accessible performance from beginning to end, regardless of the obscurity of the chosen monologue. Yet as he moves from character to character, Mooney's readings begin to run together as he fails to find unique qualities for each mask he dons. His readings seem rote, with little wiggle room from performance to performance. Yet when simply speaking a sonnet, Mooney drops any "actory" pretense, finally sharing a moment of honesty and truth. Regardless, he is clearly an entertainer at heart, and worth seeing for that alone. Katelyn Coyne

Two more performances yet to go, Thursday night at 9:00 and Saturday afternoon at 4 pm. These should be prime opportunities to sell out, if the “buzz” keeps up!

Speaking of Buzz, here's a late entry of a review from a fellow fringe touring artist:

Chances are, due to scheduling conflicts, I'm not going to get the opportunity to see Tim at Indy Fringe this year--but I still adore him and I'm not going to let that stop me from encouraging others to see him! I was lucky enough to catch Lot 'O Shakespeare during the Kansas City Fringe Festival this year and...well, I'll just say this: Tim's performance of the Saint Crispin's Day speech from Henry V is incredible--even better than Kenneth Branagh's Oscar nominated turn in the role. It gave me chills. Furthermore, I'll never be able to read or hear my favorite speech in all of Shakespeare--Marc Antony's from Julius Caesar--without thinking of the performance Tim delivered. There isn't much else to say, other than: I heart Tim Mooney. See Lot 'O Shakespeare. Lydia Ballard

And another:

I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Mooney's "Moliere Than Thou" back when I was in college. It was interesting, entertaining, funny, unique, and, if one were to let down their guard, educational. The same can be said of this new show. The selection process is random, so don't come in expecting a perfunctory "Shakespeare's Greatest Hits," but Mooney's performances will more than make up for the potential absence of some famous favorites (but do you really need to hear Hamlet's soliloquy for the hundredth time?). If the opportunity arrives to make requests, I would recommend asking for his Titus Andronicus. -- Randy Cox
Whoops! We're not done yet! Now we've got TWEETS coming in! Yes! For the first time ever, The View From Here is quoting TWEETS! What are we coming to?

"Lot o Shakespeare" is a treat. Thrilling to hear many famous speeches & sonnets live for 1st time. #indyfringe

I won a t-shirt in Iago Bingo & wept over Antony's speech over Caesar's body. Lot o Shakespeare. #indyfringe #Indy #theatre

Not a tweet; an on-line review:

Wow...as a sometimes-dabbler in the Bard's works, I was thrilled to see the speeches I knew worked by such a great performer. Even more exciting though, were some I was less familiar with: sonnets and especially the monologue from King John. Go see this show! -- Pesky


Temperature: From 100+ in Kansas City, down to a manageable 75 in Indianapolis.

Miles on the Escape: 34,000

On the I-Pod: “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz

Discoveries: The Sonnets are the closest we can get to hearing Shakespeare’s actual “voice.” * People resent having the “rules” of the show change on them, unless you’ve set up that likelihood at the outset. Even so, they may have attachments to pieces that I might assume that they DON’T want to see. * Some of the discoveries or observations that I may make offhand about these Shakespeare works may be genuine revelations to people who didn’t instinctively come to those same conclusions. * Artificial groupings of play themes don’t necessarily result in increased attendance. The opposite may well be more likely. * Venue probably impacts sales by 50-100%. * Once I have clearly established that the spin of the cage is, indeed, random, taking requests keeps the audience engaged and happy. * Never “surrender” the likelihood of any monolgue’s success. Attack each one as if it were the best ping pong ball that the cage could have spit out at that particular moment. * The audience is as interested in what it is that draws ME to the monologue as they are in the plot description.

Next performances: “Moliere Than Thou” at The Chicago Fringe Festival, 2003 S. Halsted (Pilsen Neighborhood) September 1-5: Wednesday, 9/1, 8:30; Thursday, 9/2, 7 pm; Friday, 9/3, 5:30 pm; Saturday, 9/4, 2:30 pm; Sun, 9/5, 4 pm

The View From Here #171: Summer, 2017

I began my summer heading south, with the last performance of the year’s “school tour” at the Christel House Academy in Indianapolis. ...