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

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,

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 (

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: 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