Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The View From Here #156: IL, MO, DC, MN


Alert! CHICAGO AREA PERFORMANCES coming up this fall! “Lot o’ Shakespeare” at Lewis University October 9! “Moliere than Thou” at DePaul October 23 [6 pm; Schmidt Academic Center, Rm 161, 2320 N. Kenmore, Chicago, IL 60614]! I don’t get to do these around Chicago often, and this may be my first local public performance of “Lot o’ Shakespeare,” so come join me!



Here’s the video that I alluded to in my last blog, that was presented to the opening night of the International Thespians Festival. Watch for me at :28 and :45 seconds into the video!

Back in Chicago, for once the American Association of Teachers of French was meeting in my back yard, or, at least… just in downtown Chicago. (Usually I have to travel halfway around the country or even halfway around the globe to get to this one!)

In addition to the usual booth, I was also enlisted to join a panel discussion about booking performers for educational events, which allowed for a wide-ranging discussion, and I was particularly interested in the perspective represented from the panel member from the Ravinia Festival, which seems to be extremely supportive of such events.

I did my usual session showcasing “Moliere than Thou” for these folks, and it went as well as ever. There was a former member of the AATF staff who I’ve been hanging out with socially for about seven years now, who finally got to see my show, if only because she had no obligations to the organization to keep her from attending this year.

I receive post-workshop evaluations in the mail, usually about a month after performing this workshop. This year, they were all along these lines:
“Magnifique!... I thoroughly enjoyed this most entertaining session. What an amazing actor!”
“Awsome performance. Super entertaining.”
“Extremely entertaining. Wonderful way to share Moliere’s work with students of all ages.”
“Excellent! Merci!”
“Fabulous! Truly brings Moliere & his work to life—very engaging!”
“Excellent Bring him back!”
“His usual brilliant presentation...”
Following the conference, I squeezed in a week of follow-up notes to faculty met at International Thespians as well as the Teachers of French, all the while gearing back up for a presentation of “The Greatest Speech of All Time,” this time for a full run at the Kansas City Fringe Festival.

Hosting the "Fringe Binge" (Photos by J. Maino)
In Kansas City, I was staying at the home of a couple that I had run into at three Fringe Festivals in the past: the Montreal Fringe, the Orlando Fringe and the Minnesota Fringe. Between the many times that they’ve changed homes and their proclivity to vacation at Fringe Festivals, we’d found our paths crossing many times. This time, they had moved to Kansas City and, noticing that I was on the schedule, offered up their cozy guest room.

Opening night of this Fringe was their big preview event, and they had opened up the event to all of the companies in the festival… which meant that about 55 companies were doing 5 minute previews. … Do the math. I didn’t get on stage myself (we were drawn by lottery) until about 10:45, when most of the crowd had already gone home. And yet, the initial reaction was still very positive.

Interviewing Katherine Glover
The KC Fringe had grown from past years, and the late night events were much more popular then the handful of out-of-towners who hung out at the makeshift bar. This time a real bar had been established as the Fringe late-night hangout and twenty to fifty people were coming in to hang out each night. I was recruited by the Fringe to host one of the late-night “Variety Shows,” pictured.



Interviewing Phillip Low
The first performance of my show, in a very small theatre (“The Fishtank”) was packed to standing room only. (Actually, it was sitting room only; they had pillows on the floor in front of the first row of seats.) I could feel the enthusiasm radiating from the outset.

Texting late at night...
Given the show’s immediate popularity, I gave myself a break from the relentless flyering that comprises most Fringe Festivals. If I had sold out my tiny house on the first performance, surely the word of mouth would carry me the rest of the way.

In fact, I had good houses for the rest of the run, but I didn’t sell out any more performances. My guess is that my first great audience was from people who had seen me in past years, and/or who saw me at the Fringe Preview. They were making a point of catching me at the outset.

The response was amazing. In each performance, the audience was laughing from the opening video, which I cued up 8 minutes before curtain time. (see below)


And the reviews were near perfect. Perhaps the most quotable items were from two mainstream reviews, this one from KCMetropolis.com:
“Greatest Speech” is a great history lesson 
A video of a passionate yet laughably executed stump speech is projected as the audience takes its seats for Timothy Mooney’s The Greatest Speech of All Time on this year’s Kansas City Fringe Festival. Thankfully, Mooney’s Greatest Speech is very well executed in a delightful blend of humor and history. 
Mooney features eight iconic speeches in his engaging and ambitious hour-long show. Moving chronologically from Socrates to Martin Luther King, Jr., Mooney gives life to words that hold significance in our shared human history. He attempts to examine why these particular orations have transcended eras and how they may affect us now in the twenty-first century. Heady stuff, but Mooney achieves this with charisma, energetic pacing, and interesting anecdotes about each speech and speaker, keeping the audience riveted. Often I felt transported to the times and places of these speeches, aided by historically related images projected behind Mooney. 
Mooney doesn’t cheapen his interpretations of the speakers with exaggerated accents, although he does embody their characters fully and believably. His inflections and projection are strong and clear, and the sheer amount of memorization for Greatest Speech is staggering. Mooney admirably and impressively rises to the occasion.The individual messages of each speech are expressed successfully. The profuse irony in Socrates’ Apology speech, the indignation towards slavery in Frederick Douglass’ The Hypocrisy of American Slavery, and the willfulness and absurdity in Teddy Roosevelt’s The Leader and the Cause (he had just been shot, but insisted on delivering his speech) are unmistakable and tangible. 
The highlights for me, in addition to those by Douglass and Teddy Roosevelt, are the First Inaugural Address by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I’ve Been to the Mountaintop. FDR’s depression-era address is astonishingly timely to today’s political and economic climate in the United States, and it elicited spontaneous applause from the opening-night audience at key moments. King’s inspirational eloquence in Mountaintop, delivered in Memphis the day before his assassination, is a fitting and moving conclusion to the show. 
The opening performance of Timothy Mooney’s The Greatest Speech of All Time was sold out at the door. This show is appropriate for all ages. (Kristen Shafel Omiccioli)
And then, this one from “The Pitch,” culled from a full page article about a lot of plays that the reviewer had caught in the opening weekend of “Fringing”:
I got an earlier start Saturday, beginning with a 6 p.m. show... The theatre filled to capacity for "The Greatest Speech of All Time" edited and performed by Timothy Mooney, who brought historical figures to life, and relevance through their own words. It was a powerful performance, and it proved impossible to top as the high point of the evening. (Deborah Hirsch, The Pitch)


Audience responses that showed up online, included:
Tim Mooney's acting, content, and arrangement were top notch. The entire audience responded with enthusiastic applause at the conclusion of every speech, as well as at the end of the performance. Mr. Mooney's inspiring delivery connected the audience to international historical personalities... His choice of images, displayed on the backdrop while he spoke, kept me attentive and focused on his oratory… A wonderful show for a mature audience of high school or undergraduate students, or people interested in history and/or public speaking.

 Enthusiastically recommend you don't miss this one! (Susanders
Tim Mooney undertook selecting speeches and excerpts from famous speeches that stood the test of time and still play well for today's audience. The amount of material memorized and presented culminates a monumental undertaking as Mooney rapid fire talks for one solid hour, delivering outstanding orations from times past.. The show is well worth seeing, especially for those who may have studied those characters and read or heard some of their speeches. (BobEvans
Great speeches performed by a great orator This is Tim's third year at KC Fringe and probably his best. If you enjoy history and love great speeches, this should be the next play you see. (alanskoalas
Some of the lesser-known speeches are particularly interesting: Frederic Douglas's address to the "women's anti-slavery sewing circle" of Rochester, NY, and MLK's address to the sanitation workers of Memphis still stun today. I wanted to replace all this year's campaign ads on television with FDR's address on the roots of the economic problems of the 1930s and how to fix them.

His excerpts of one of Teddy Roosevelt's one of campaign speech for the Bull Moose Party brought moments of humor to an otherwise serious and moving experience. Highly recommended. (“badbarbie”)
I now had sufficient “content” to promote the plays. I talked my Fringe Friends, Katherine and Phillip into videotaping my show, in exchange for tickets, and spent my final days in Kansas City assembling some video to put up on YouTube, and dropping it onto my promotional DVD, along with my clips of Moliere and Shakespeare.


West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle
I raced across the middle of the country to Washington D.C. and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. Once again, I had a booth in the lobby, and was handing out flyers, stickers and DVDs as well as selling a few books. I was meeting a lot of people who have been receiving my e-mails over the years, and catching up with people I knew by reputation, though I’d never met them in person.

"I Heart...?"
At one point, I stopped in the gift shop of the hotel I was staying at and noticed this particular key chain. I can’t help but think that maybe it doesn’t quite send the same message as the designer of this particular trinket intended.

From there, it was on to Minnesota and the second weekend of the Minnesota Fringe Festival. My lottery number had not been drawn when the Fringe slots were chosen, so I didn’t have a full play at this festival, but a Fringe Friend was producing a collection from “Fringe Superstars’” short pieces that couldn’t sustain a full hour-long performance, called “Fringe Orphans.” He invited me to join them, but I’d already given up and scheduled myself for ATHE. Still, he was willing to incorporate me into the show just for the final weekend, and so I shared a short story that I had written: “The Dog that Doesn’t Bark.”

Even with my very limited two appearances, I got some nice responses:
“This was my first exposure to Tim Mooney. I thought his monologue was captivating… (Mark Mikula) 
“There were the stellar bits, with Tim Mooney, phillip low, and Jesse Richards/Jena Young…” (Publius McGee) 
The big, wide, Mississippi
“…However, the standout was Tim Mooney, and if you still haven't seen Fringe Orphans, you owe it to yourself to see the last performance.” (Cato Brutus)  
“…My favorite was Tim Mooney's monologue "The Dog That Doesn't Bark". As if a salesman at a business conference he talks about how the political game is played through manipulation and cash. Brilliant!” (David Rust)

One guy approached me at the closing night party saying, “Your monologue was like one big rolling-pin massage of truth!”

And yet, filed under “you can’t win ‘em all”…
“The biggest let down was “The Dog that Doesn’t Bark.” Just couldn’t completely grasp the point being made here… “The Dog that Doesn’t Bark’s” message was lost in a sea of long-winded-ness. I felt like I was in the middle of a college professors preaching rant.” (Will Taylor)
But you can judge for yourself:


The good part is that even though I was just coming in for a couple of days, I still go to go to the closing night party with all the fun people.

BWJ, KG & AM

Back in Chicago, I was working out of April’s basement (or mostly on her dining room table), and working through yet another e-mail campaign.

Somewhere in there, Dad broke his wrist while playing tennis! I found myself making the occasional trip over to “The Moorings” to check in, and help him with some of his left-handed activities.

Somewhere in there, Isaac started college! (U of Michigan!)

Somewhere in there, Amber started college! (SIU!)

Somewhere in there, a bunch of my old grade school friends held an impromptu reunion!

St. James Survivors
While I usually restrict myself to two e-mail campaigns each year (Dec/Jan and May/June), I suddenly found myself with these great reviews in hand, and a new show that nobody really knew about yet. I decided that it was time to get the word out. Meanwhile, I knew that teachers were just now getting back to school; perhaps a big changeup in schedule could catch some of them as they were starting to think of content for their classes.

My Webmaster, Bruce, had supplied me with some content feedback that his wife, a school teacher had provided him, pointing me exactly to the “Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy.”  It was clear that those standards applied almost directly to my new show. I copied them into a long footnote at the end of my letter to teachers and got to work.

Lot o' Shakespeare at Central Lakes College
(Photos: Dwayna Paplow)
In addition to my promotional work, I was continuing my ongoing project of Shakespeare’s “The Henriad,” Shakespeare’s tetralogy of “Richard II,” “Henry IV, Parts 1&2,” and “Henry V.” I discovered that I was able to edit an act or two each morning while riding the exercise bike, and I managed to do three passes through all four plays, carefully trimming and sculpting them down to the tightest shape I could get them into. While they started out, collectively, at 164 pages, over the past year I have trimmed them to 100 pages, 90 pages, 80, 70 and, now, 60 pages.

I got all four plays down to one hour each. Plays that tend to run over ten hours collectively, could now be performed in the course of four hours total. This could work for a Shakespeare festival, for a college, or as individual one-hour events for high school performance. (If anybody wants to read a copy, drop me a line!)

And, now that I’ve done that, I can hear the other “tetralogy” (“Henry VI, Parts 1-3,” and “Richard III”) calling to me, and now that these plays are finally coming within my grasp, all sorts of other possibilities are presenting themselves to me, including a one-man show focused on the History plays. (“Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits: The History Cycle”)

Lot o' Shakespeare: "King John"
It’s been a lean summer, without a lot of money coming in, but I’m gearing up to set out on the road again in a couple of days, with a busy Fall, featuring a succession of performances that should have the ship righted fairly quickly. And, given that I’ve just completed yet another big mailing, there are all sorts of new performance opportunities presenting themselves. When will I get to work on all these new projects? Perhaps Winter break will present me with a whole new set of possibilities.

Miles on the Escape: 121,000

Discoveries: I have barely scratched the surface of the networks of support that are out there and available! * Never take audience turn-out for granted. Selling out the opening night only means that you have sold out opening night. * Changing up the anticipated rhythm of mailing campaigns catches some people in moments when they might be more amenable to chasing down a booking.

Temperature: Following the hottest summer ever, with every day of the KC Fringe festival hovering near or over 100 degrees, we’re now back to highs in the comfortable mid-60s. (Pack long sleeves, Tim!)


On the night-table: “The Iliad,” “Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare,” “The Trial of Socrates.”

On the TV: “Leverage” and “Flashpoint

Next performance: University of Central Oklahoma (Sept 25), Valparaiso University (Oct 1), Lewis University (Oct 9)

Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre Tour Schedule

(Available dates in CAPITAL LETTERS; Already-booked dates in GREEN; Pending bookings in PURPLE; Festival opportunities in RED)
MTT = “Moliere than Thou”; LoS = “Lot o’ Shakespeare; GSAT = “Greatest Speech of All Time”

FALL, 2012                                                                                                                        
12/3     Elon, NC: Elon University (Workshop)
12/2-5  NEW ENGLAND / NEW YORK / PENNSYLVANIA / NEW JERSEY
12/6     Proctor Academy, Andover, NH (GSAT)
12/9-12  OHIO / MICHIGAN / INDIANA / ILLINOIS / IOWA / KENTUCKY / WISCONSIN / MINNESOTA

WINTER / SPRING, 2013
1/5-7    Available for Kansas Thespians
1/10-12  Available for Missouri Thespians (St. Louis, MO)
1/11-12  Available for Tennessee Thespians
1/7-12  FLORIDA
1/13-14 GEORGIA / SOUTH/NORTH CAROLINA
1/15     Newberry College, Newberry, SC
1/16-18 GEORGIA / ALABAMA / MISSISSIPPI / LOUISIANA / TENNESSEE / ARKANSAS
1/19-21 LOUISIANA / TEXAS
1/22     Laredo Community College (MTT)
1/23     TEXAS
1/24-27 TEXAS (TETA) (Houston)
1/28     Hill College, Hillsboro, TX (LoS)
1/29     N-TEXAS
1/30-31 NEW MEXICO / ARIZONA
2/1-2    NEVADA / S-IDAHO / UTAH
2/3-4    WYOMING / COLORADO / NEBRASKA
2/5-6    NEBRASKA / IOWA / MISSOURI / KANSAS
2/7       Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS
2/8       MISSOURI / OKLAHOMA / KANSAS
2/9       Newman University, Wichita, KS (LoS)
2/10-13 MISSOURI / S-ILLINOIS / W-KENTUCKY / TENNESSEE
2/12     Geneva High School, Geneva, IL (MTT)
2/14-15 INDIANA / KENTUCKY / OHIO
2/14-15 Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
2/16-19 WEST VIRGINIA / VIRGINIA / D.C. / MARYLAND / DELAWARE / S-PENNSYLVANIA
2/20-24 NEW JERSEY / PENNSYLVANIA / NEW YORK / NEW ENGLAND
2/25-26 OHIO / INDIANA / MICHIGAN
2/27-28 ILLINOIS / WISCONSIN / MINNESOTA
3/1-2    NORTH/SOUTH DAKOTA / MONTANA / NE-WYOMING
3/3-4    MONTANA / IDAHO / WASHINGTON
3/5       WASHINGTON / OREGON
3/6       OREGON / N-CALIFORNIA
3/7-12  CALIFORNIA (Rogue Performance Festival 3/7-9)
3/13     Sacramento State, Sacramento, CA
3/14-15 NEVADA / UTAH / SW-COLORADO
3/15     Snow College, Ephraim, UT (GSAT)
3/16-17 COLORADO / OKLAHOMA / ARKANSAS
3/18     OKLAHOMA / N-TEXAS / ARKANSAS
3/19     LOUISIANA / MISSISSIPPI / ALABAMA
3/20-23FLORIDA (Available for Florida Thespians)
3/24-27 FLORIDA / GEORGIA / TENNESSEE
3/28-29 MISSOURI / IOWA
3/30-5/12 GUEST ARTIST OPENING
4/18-21World Health Organization: Croatia

SUMMER, 2013
5/15-27 Orlando Fringe Festival
6/18-23 International Thespian Festival, Lincoln, NE
7/11-14 AATF, Providence, RI
7/18-28 KC Fringe Festival
8/1-4    ATHE, Orlando Florida
8/1-11  Minnesota Fringe Festival

FALL, 2013
9/3-7    WISCONSIN / ILLINOIS / INDIANA / MICHIGAN
9/8-9    MICHIGAN / INDIANA / OHIO
9/10-14 PENNSYLVANIA / NEW YORK
9/15-19 NEW ENGLAND
9/20-23 NEW YORK / NEW JERSEY / PENNSYLVANIA
9/24     MARYLAND / DELAWARE / D.C.
9/25-29 VIRGINIA / WEST VIRGINIA
9/26-30 EdTA Conference, Minneapolis, MN
9/30-10/2  NORTH CAROLINA / SOUTH CAROLINA
10/3-8  GEORGIA / FLORIDA
10/9-12 SOUTH CAROLINA / GEORGIA / KENTUCKY / TENNESSEE
10/13-15  ALABAMA / MISSISSIPPI / LOUISIANA / AKANSAS
10/16   Texas Wesleyan University, Ft. Worth, TX (GSAT)
10/17-21  TEXAS / OKLAHOMA
10/22-24  NEW MEXICO / ARIZONA / COLORADO
10/25-28  UTAH / NEVADA / CALIFORNIA
10/29-11/2  CALIFORNIA
11/3-5  OREGON / WASHINGTON
11/6-10 IDAHO / UTAH / MONTANA / WYOMING
11/11-13  NORTH DAKOTA / SOUTH DAKOTA / MINNESOTA / WISCONSIN
11/14-16  IOWA / MISSOURI / NEBRASKA
11/17-20  WYOMING / COLORADO / KANSAS
11/21-27  OKLAHOMA / ARKANSAS / TENNESSEE / KENTUCKY
11/28-12/1  THANKSGIVING BREAK
12/2-4  NORTH CAROLINA / SOUTH CAROLINA / GEORGIA / FLORIDA
12/5-7  Seminole State College, Orlando, FL (LoS?)
12/8-9  ALABAMA / MISSISSIPPI / ARKANSAS / LOUISIANA
12/11   TEXAS / OKLAHOMA / KANSAS
12/12-14 COLORADO (Available for Colorado Thespians)

SPRING, 2014
1/3-5/10  NO TOUR. AVAILABLE FOR GUEST ARTIST/VISITING PROFESSOR RESIDENCIES!

SUMMER, 2014
July:     International Community Theatre Festival, Venice, FL

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