Sunday, August 24, 2014

The View From Here #163: Summer, 2014

I last left you, gentle reader, at the end of the Orlando Fringe Festival, and am happy to report that the final two performances of that run sold out!

Pre-show Selfie with Brian Sikorski and Orlando Audience
I was sad to see that some of the high school students who’d come out specially to see my show were not able to get in, particularly as the capacity of the theatre was understated, with always a few empty seats, even in the “sell-outs.” And yet, all in all, I was grateful for a successful premiere.

Keeping the show under the 60-minute limit was always a challenge, and I think I averaged 58:30 for most of the run, though one performance started off with a screw up of the slide show, which set me back about 45 seconds before I even started!

I got to hang out with lots of old and new friends, staying with the Pergande’s once again; this year, they were also putting up Winnie and Brittney from Denver’s “Dangerous Theatre,” (photo, left) and Winnie even set up an engagement for performances in Denver this September!

Young Sam's interpretation of my show...

One of the youngest attendees at the show drew his own interpretive description of his weekend at the theatre, which quotes me at some length… (that's my sword, leaning up against the chair...)

Hanging out with DE Guys...!
With the festival closed, I made a strategic withdrawal to my friend, Jen’s condo, south of Orlando. Jen had relocated to a new job in South Carolina, which gave me the place to myself while diving in on a writing project which would demand a lot of concentration, parked at a desk for perhaps 10 hours a day over the course of two weeks.  

I was going “radio silent,” not even posting stuff on Facebook, while exploring a new version of “The Servant of Two Masters,” a play by the great Italian Commedia author, Carlo Goldoni. Given that Goldoni is about as close as we can get to the style of Moliere, I have long dreamed of doing a “Mooneyized” variation of this script in my usual rhymed iambic pentameter. The folks at the Annapolis Shakespeare Company had indicated an interest in the play, and I wanted to see to see if the rhyming magic would still effectively “cross over” from Moliere to Goldoni.

Michael Windsor & Jackie Madejski in ASC's "Scapin"
Photo by Joshua McKerrow
You may recall that Annapolis Shakespeare did a terrific presentation of my “Tartuffe” last summer, and that they have been working on both my “Scapin” and my “Imaginary Invalid” this year. And while I grappled with my new project, a 5-star review of the Annapolis production of my “Scapin” appeared on the DCMetroArts website:

Returning for their second annual "Comedy in the Courtyard" series, Annapolis Shakespeare Company is back and bringing the laughter to theatergoers of Annapolis. Right in the back courtyard of Reynolds Tavern, The Schemings of Scapin, a Moliere classic comedy, has all the hallmarks of hilarity -- mistaken identities, schemes, high end physical farce and enough 'private' jokes to flood the whole of Annapolis Harbor. An excellent evening out, this production will have you in stitches as the adaptation by Timothy Mooney brings modern rhyming couplets loaded with innuendo into the mix. Directed by the company's Founding Artistic Director, Sally Boyett, the show is high-end hilarity for all who stumble into this zany show... A great production, a fanciful fun evening of laughing all around, this is a brilliant performance to attend when trying to get a giggle from theatre this summer.
Lauren Turchin & Tim Torre in "Scapin"
Photo by Phillip Greenwood
With the wind of this success at my heels, I plugged away, only barely hinting to Sally (the director) that I was putting some work in on the project… not wanting to promise, without knowing that the words would once again achieve their fanciful heights. I set ten-pages-a-day as my goal and forced myself to grind it out, only occasionally running off for groceries or pushing away from the desk to exercise. I occasionally managed to trade e-mails with my good friend, Marcus, from Croatia, who has done a number of the “collage” promos for “Lot o’ Shakespeare” and “The Greatest Speech of All Time.” He was working with the latest pictures from Tisse Mallon, taken at the Orlando Fringe, and ultimately came up with the photo at the top of this blog, as well as this varation:

Photos by Tisse Mallon; Treatment by Marcus Fernando
Presumed author in background...

Gradually, the mass of the project grew. Five days into the writing, the first act of the play had been completed, and the second and third acts fell in another four, and three days respectively. Pushing the limits of my tolerance to sit and sit for hours on end (pun intended), I was eager to finish the play before a trip northward to see “Scapin.” I even managed a quick proofread of the play, catching lots of uncoupled rhymes, and unrythmic lines.

A message came through from the folks at the American Association of Community Theatres. Four years ago, with their “WorldFest” coming up in Venice, Florida, they’d asked me to replace a theatre group from Zimbabwe that was unable to make it to United States to attend the festival, and I’d stepped in with last-minute performances of “Moliere than Thou” to fill the slot.

It seemed that lightning was about to strike twice, as they were asking if I might have a show to present this year as well…?

I sent them my recent reviews for “Shakespeare’s Histories.”

I printed up copies of “Servant of Two Masters” and hit the road, dropping in on my buddy, Jon Tuttle, in South Carolina, and pushing on up to Annapolis. With a performance of “Scapin” slated for that night, I popped in on Sally at the ASC office, where I more-or-less dropped the “Servant” script into her lap.

The Cast of Annapolis Shakespeare Co's 
"Schemings of Scapin"
Photo by Joshua McKerrow
I don’t know if Sally was entirely surprised, but she did jump into action rather quickly, running off copies of the script, organizing an impromptu reading for that night, following “Scapin.”

Meanwhile, I was getting the royal treatment in Annapolis, with a huge room at a lovely hotel (the O’Callaghan) , just a few blocks from the Reynolds Tavern, where the performance was happening. The hotel owner/manager was an enthusiastic theatre supporter, and was sending his employees out to see performances of the show. When I went to check in at the front desk, the clerk, who had seen the show the week before, was already singing the praises of the show, not even knowing that I was involved.

The show, itself, was a blast. My only disappointment was that, having played Scapin just a few months before, I didn’t get to play along with this terrific cast, myself.

First ever reading of the new "Servant of Two Masters"!
After the show, Sally gathered the cast to do a reading of my new show, and a bunch of the actors stuck around. I assigned out roles, reading in the role of the servant (“Truffuldino”) myself.

It was lots of fun, with enough laughs to assure me that the “magic” was still there, but by the time we’d finished off the first act, many of the actors were drifting off, and so the following day, Sally and I ended up finishing off the reading with just the two of us trading off between all of the roles.  

Next stop: Charlotte, North Carolina, where Shakespeare Carolina was producing my verion of “The Misanthrope.” My previous drop-in on their rehearsal also included an interview which by now had shown up on YouTube: 

The take on “Misanthope” was quite different, a contemporary setting, with lots of texting and social media in place of the intercepted missives that cause so much trouble in Moliere’s original. The fellow playing the central character, Alceste (which I’ve played twice, now), gave a brilliant performance, supported by another dozen or so committed and devoted actors. The critics liked it too.

Celebrating with Heather Busch, 
director of "The Misanthrope"
After the show, I joined the actors for a quick post-show visit to the bar, but called it an early night, given that I needed to race off early the next morning, getting back to Orlando by mid-afternoon.

The Breakthrough Theatre of Winter Park had offered me the opportunity to do three more performances of “Shakespeare’s Histories” in their venue, as an “extension” of my Orlando Fringe performances. The owner, Wade Hair, was a warm theatre devotee, who really seemed to enjoy my show all three nights of the run. While the attendance was minimal, I could always spot his grin and sense his appreciation from the back of the house, where he was running the lights. He seemed particularly appreciative when I occasionally improvised a spontaneous use of the odd configuration of the platforms that had been set up in the space for their next show.

My last day in Orlando, my friend, and favorite photographer, Tisse, managed to pry me away from work long enough to go for a boat tour of Winter Park. It was a perfect day for it, and we passed a tree, on what seems to be the worlds tiniest island, just as a bird was just taking off, and Tisse snapped a perfect picture.

Photo by Tisse Mallon
In Venice, Florida, the American Association of Community Theatre’s “WorldFest” was getting underway. This time I’d been put on alert that it looked like the troupe from Togo (in Africa) was unable to get visa clearance, and that I’d be going in for them. And yet, the festival folks wanted to play it close to the chest, not announcing the replacement untl the last possible moment.

Out in the theatre lobby, I was maintaining my vendor booth, this time promoting my books almost exclusively (given that I wasn’t planning to maintain the tour as actively), and quite a number of folks who’d remembered “Moliere Than Thou” four years prior, were coming up to ask if I was going to perform again this year. Caught between wanting to celebrate the good news, and the need to hold back on any actual announcement, I was left teasing them with a vague “could be...!”

With the Venice Theatre's Bartender...
We have a similar colorist...

It wasn’t until the day before my first performance that we made the official announcement, as the genial pre-show host of the events announced that “Shakespeare’s Histories” would be replacing the group from Togo for three performances, and I paraded onto the stage wearing my Shakespearean jester hat, waving to the crowd.

My show was the partner show to a group from Canada, and after they struck their large set, I would proceed to set up my chair, my projector and broadsword. I was performing in the theatre’s small 100-seat studio, and the shows were pretty much “sold out” for the run. That sell-out, however, was for the “block” of performances, featuring the Canadian show and my own. By the time I took the stage for the first performance, the attendance seemed to have dropped to below half. It seems that the audience, originally sold on the notion of going to a performance by those Togolese, were not entirely convinced that “Shakespeare’s Histories” would be that fun.

This trend lessened as the week progressed, and word circulated, but I was always chagrined to see empty seats.

On the upside, however, I was happy to note that my books were selling quite well. There was a time, in fact, that I may have been outselling the Dramatic Publishing booth, right next door to mine.

A portion of these sales stemmed from the “breakneck pace” of my performance. Given that I’d prepped the show to squeeze into a single hour, many of the facts and dates zipped past faster than the average audience could absorb them and, should they want to actually retain these details, the book would be a helpful guide.

Ben Vereen with some guy in a hat
The special guest at this event was the brilliant Ben Vereen, who performed at the opening ceremony, and could be spotted wandering among the crowd most of the week. At one point, I was upstairs visiting my friend, Lisa, at her booth on the theatre’s balcony, and I spotted Ben Vereen approaching my own booth on the theatre’s Mezzanine level. I raced down the stairs and caught up with him before he moved on. The festival’s pre-show host, who was escorting him about, introduced us, and before I got the chance to say it, myself, Mr. Vereen commented that he was “honored to make [my] acquaintance,” and graciously reported that he was looking forward to seeing my show. Of course, I immediately had to post on Facebook: “Ben Vereen told me he was looking forward to seeing my show!” (Which picked up about 150 “likes” almost immediately.)

Alas, he never did, actually, show up to my show, but I did, at least, catch a photo with him (above).

One of the adjudicators at this festival, by the way, was a fellow from Denmark, who was quite impressed with “Shakespeare’s Histories.” His only critique was that he wanted to see me focus on a single Shakespeare play (rather than ten in a single hour), so that I might dive further into the emotional content of the characters. “Well, which did he have in mind?” I asked.

“You know, being from Denmark, of course, I’m rather partial to ‘Hamlet.’”

“Hm. Actually, I had been thinking of King Lear…”

“That’s a good one, too.”

Becky, Ron & I recreate a pose from 4 years ago
We left the conversation there, but the more thought I gave to this, the more I realized that the 80-year-old “King Lear” was a role that I probably still had a few years to work on, but that, perhaps, the clock was ticking on my opportunities to play “Hamlet.”

The festival in Venice was lots of fun, with many late-night parties, though my need to rehearse the show repeatedly kept me from getting too carried away after dark. The organizers of the festival expressed much gratitude for my willingness to step in at the last second, though I have to admit being quite disappointed that there was no recognition of my contribution to the festival at the closing night ceremony.

From Venice, my friend Lisa and I swung down to Sanibel Island for a bit of fun at the beach, but the lack of functional wi-fi at the hotel, and my own obsession over the workload I was facing kept me from being able to enjoy the holiday, and the next day I raced back up Interstate 75, on a long two-day drive to Chicago.

Sanibel Island
I had about two weeks before I would need to head on to the Kansas City, and the Minnesota Fringe Festivals. I needed to update my flyers and my press releases, as well as the books, themselves, to feature quotes from my Orlando reviews. I finished up the third draft of “Servant of Two Masters,” and began to rework my plans for the coming Fall term.

I’d had just a couple of “nibbles” for faculty positions in the course of my applications, and one of these nibbles led me to question just how much I might actually want to land the position in question. The option that I was anticipating was a good school which had the unfortunate downside of being “in the middle of nowhere.” Given that such a commitment would likely run up to mid-May, 2015, I realized that it would be impossible for me to take an acting job that might go into rehearsal in April. I was awash in ambivalence.

A teaching gig would, of course, have a certain amount of security to it, but was this simply a way of putting off the career move that I actively wanted to throw all of my energy behind? Was I delaying the inevitable risk of surviving on my wits (and my art) alone?

Of course, I’ve mostly been surviving on that alone (with the assistance of colleagues, friends and family across the country), for the last thirteen years… but now I was cutting way back on the one solution that had gotten me as far as it had.

I drew up a new plan.
Sunset over Jimmy Johns

I plotted out one final tour for the fall, which, in my head, I had begun to think of as the “First and Last-Month’s Rent Tour.” (The schedule is below, if you want to book me!) All empty portions of my summer were now filling up with a last second e-mail campaign, offering my shows at a low, low price that I haven’t offered in about ten years! (Again, the schedule is below, if you want to book me!)

I already had some requests on hand for performances and workshops for the coming fall (The Georgia Theatre Conference and Valparaiso and DePaul Universities), but just one more lap out west could bolster my ability to maintain a home wherever I ultimately landed.

And where THAT would be remains an open question. For the moment, the pros and cons have had me leaning toward Chicago and occasionally toward the Baltimore/DC/Annapolis area. (Of course, this last lap could find me falling in love with a whole new place…!)

Meanwhile, I was playing around with Hamlet… current working title: “Something about Hamlet.”

Taking a cue from my favorite TV series, “Slings and Arrows,” I decided to start with the six major soliloquies. (As Geoffrey Tennant says, “You nail those, everybody goes home happy.”)

We generally assume that the soliloquies are the most honest moments of any character, and Hamlet is a particularly difficult nut to crack, given his “antic disposition,” and his tendency to hide his true thoughts from those around him. I might well be able to build an understanding of the character, and eventually, the play, from the inside, out.

I didn’t know where this exploration would take me, or what this might eventually look like as a one-man show, (if it would even be a one-man show), but as I began to absorb the soliloquies, they grew in depth and texture and dynamics. I began to notice trends, understand how they held together, and how individual words contributed to the through-line, or reveal glimmers of character. And, what surprises me almost every time, is that speeches that have bewildered me for years, as they are absorbed into my being, begin to develop a theatrical power, a climax, or even a goofy idea that strikes me as being just right for the moment.

For instance: Hamlet is famously reticent about avenging his father’s death, or even expressing his anger about it, but given the opportunity to articulate his perspective on the theatre, he goes way beyond the bounds of dispassionate aesthetic criticism, and may even “split the ears of the groundlings” and “saw the air with his hand” as he complains about the tendency of the clowns to improvise material that is not “set down for them.” By the end of the speech, I find myself almost roaring out “That’s villainous and shows a most pitiful ambition in he that uses it!”

I'm taller than her, now...
Just a couple days before hitting the road once more, I found myself back at my old grade school, St. James, in Arlington Heights, to attend their production of “Oliver!”, one of the very first shows I ever appeared in, also at St. James, back when I was in 6th grade! Through a series of coincidences, it also happened that my First Grade Teacher (yipes!) was attending this same show! I was reunited with Sister John Marie, perhaps 48 years later!

Back to the tour! Kansas City was next up! Early signs were good, as “Shakespeare’s Histories” was listed in a feature article in the Kansas City Star as “a hit at the Orlando International Fringe Festival in Florida this year.” (Of course, the only way that they knew that was because I’d stressed that fact in my recent press release!) ((Fortunately, they took my word for it.))

From the first performance, ticket sales in Kansas City were brisk. Pitch Magazine, which had given me a very nice review last year, was back again with a summary of the festival which included a review of my show that fit into a single parenthetical remark:
(Speaking of Shakespeare, are you Shakespeare-phobic or lacking background on England's royal past or maybe just forever hungry for the Bard? In Timothy Mooney's Shakespeare's Histories: Ten Epic Plays at a Breakneck Pace, seen Monday, his colorful and concise monologues on the historical plays combine famous Shakespeare text with an animated CliffsNotes take on English royal lineage that transfix, leaving you entertained and feeling smarter.) Liz Cook & Deborah Hirsch, The
And one of the most enthusiastic responders to last year’s “Greatest Speech of All Time” was back to review “Histories” for
Is it possible to experience five centuries of history, literature, and drama in less than an hour? Turns out it’s not only possible, but entertaining and educational to boot. Mooney connects the dots between the plays, reveals the author’s liberties with factual events, and his penchant for having his reality-based characters wildly prophesying on anything and everything. Pillar of the English language and renowned dramatist, yes. Reliable historian? Not so much, but Mooney helps make it clear Shakespeare was trying to provide entertainment and social commentary with his English history plays more than an accurate telling. Mooney [points] out ironies and discrepancies with enthusiasm and determination… delivered with confidence and personality. He slips between narrator and character without missing a beat... There is a staggering amount of material packed into this mere 60 minutes—war, murder, deception, banishment, conquests, family drama, and much more. Mooney respects the audience in that he doesn’t dumb down Shakespeare, but makes it accessible, enjoyable, and fun.  Kristin Shafel Omiccioli,
And, an old friend, and fellow fringer, Robert Hubbard, provided one of my favorite reviews on
“I have seen a medicine/That's able to breathe life into a stone” [Although] this Shakespeare quotation would be more appropriate if it came from a history play, it effectively captures the magical alchemy taking place at the Westport Coffee House… Tim Mooney prescribes a sweet-tasting medicine that resuscitates some majestic old stones… breathing new life into some of the best set speeches in the history of theatre…. One of the most experienced solo performers around, Mooney’s performance soars along at an engaging and thrilling pace… It’s a great show. See it. Robert Hubbard,
As always, I had loads of fun at the KC Fringe, where my good friends, Allan and Sandy, put me up for the course of the fringe. My friend, Cat, a lighting designer, donated some fabric to cover the “throne” for my show (a wing-backed chair). I enjoyed the late-night arts bar gatherings, and was asked to host the late-night show for a couple of nights, the prospect of which used to intimidate me somewhat, but now I just recruit a few performers and sit back and enjoy the conversation.

All in all, my show averaged about 45 in attendance for each performance, which was a definite step up for the KC Fringe Festival, due, perhaps equally, to this being my fourth return to the festival (with good publicity and reviews) as to the festival taking a significant step up in exposure this year.

On to Minnesota! The Minnesota Fringe has likewise been a favorite of mine, and once again I was back at the Bryant-Lake Bowl.

While the atmosphere of the “BLB” is really fun, with the audience able to bring their beer (or their dinner) in to the theatre, there’s a funny shape to the auditorium, which places some of the audience perhaps as far as 30 feet away from the stage, while the bulk of floor-level seats are all within about 15 feet. Every once in a while, the loud air conditioning unit will kick on, or a bus or motorcycle can be heard passing by (the street is immediately behind the back wall of the stage). And, every now and then you can, of course, hear a pin drop… from the adjacent bowling alley.

This was the one venue which, all summer long, has had me concerned about timing. Between the distance of the audience, the audio interference, and the anticipated crowd reaction, I was apprehensive about being able to bring the show in under the required 60 minutes. After the KC shows were done, I combed back over the script once more, finding new cuts that I might make into the dialogue: removing twenty seconds of material from two speeches, and another ten seconds out of another… beautiful language, but perhaps repeating or reframing points that had already been made.

I was caught off-guard when my first performance, a 7:00 show on the opening night of the festival, was met by a small audience of only about 15 or so. (Even my opening night Kansas City show had over 40.)

It was hard to get the “pulse” of this particular crowd. Their scattered placement made them less unified in their reaction as the Orlando or Kansas City audiences had been. The one fellow that I was pretty sure was a reviewer seemed to be in a dour mood, and the laughs felt fewer and further between. Having amped myself up to perform to a packed house of perhaps 80, I was “pushing” in ways to which the crowd was not responding.

And yet, the first two reviews that showed up almost immediately, with the Pioneer Press, and with Aisle Say, were extremely good:
If only cramming for an exam were as enjoyable as Timothy Mooney's rapid-fire tour through five centuries of English history. It's an epic in an hour as the Chicago-based actor squeezes together 10 plays about seven kings and creates 23 distinct characters, each employing Shakespeare's sumptuously poetic words. PowerPoint helps with succession charts, but it's best when the exhaustingly energetic Mooney introduces you to rich, complex characters like the existentially conflicted Richard II or Joan of Arc as seen through Elizabethan eyes (the little witch). Mooney brings welcome clarity to what all those wars and words were about. -- Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press (An entirely different Rob Hubbard from the one who reviewed my show in Kansas City!)
Timothy Mooney is a joy to watch in this one-man show, as he flies through the history of the English monarchy from 1066-1533 AD as explained through Shakespeare. It is an awesome thing to see, in the sense that it will fill you with awe -- awe that one person can not only remember all those names, dates, and details, but that he can also remember all those Shakespearean speeches, the different mannerisms and voices for each character, and make it all interesting... Timothy Mooney makes some sharp, witty insights into Shakespeare's choices in writing up his version of English history, and he truly brings the stories to life... If history and Shakespeare are two of your least favourite things, this obviously isn't the thing for you, but if you're even a little bit into either or both, do yourself a favour and go see this show, if only to marvel at Mooney's outstanding performance. -- Liz Byron, Aisle Say, Twin Cities 
Audience reviews were just as good, all four and five stars, with only one 2-star (“A derivitave Reduced Shakespeare Company-esque romp”) and one 3-star review (“There wasn’t enough difference in the presentation of the different characters.”).

My favorite comments:
  • “Cliff Notes on Steroids,”
  • “I’ve never come away disappointed from a Tim Mooney performance, and I surely did not from this one.”
  • “Definitely will be in my top 5 (of the 52 I’ll see…),”
  • “The history teacher you wish you had had in school”
  • “The consummate theater nerd.”
To top things off, I just now noticed that Matthew Everett, who I’ve been promoting my material to since my very first time out to the Minnesota Fringe (in 2004?), did a quick review of the show on his Facebook page:
Shakespeare's Histories - finally saw a Tim Mooney show, and I might finally understand the context of the history plays, 5 stars. -- Matthew Everett
With Doug and Beth Rusk!
As always, I had loads of fun in Minnesota, visiting with people, some of whom had been back to see me for eight different shows by now (such as Nick of the now-famous Nick & Carolyn… a couple who met at the Fringe, now married with a small child)! My old college friends, Doug and Beth Rusk, who I haven't seen in ... many years, came out to see the show! It was great getting to know the new fringe staff led by Executive Director, Jeff Larson, and to hang out at Fringe Central and visit. (Following my 5-days-into-the-Fringe spontaneous addition to the line up last year, I felt that the warmth of the welcome I was getting had grown... or perhaps it’s just a sense of respect for someone who is badass enough to mount a show on a single day’s notice.)

Tim & Bill
My old friends Bill and Susan Wilkinson, who’d followed me ever since I hit the road back in 2002, drove in from Wisconsin to see the show. And my playwright-friend, Claudia Haas posted, “Ending MN Fringe with Tim Mooney because he is fearless and if you’re doing Shakespeare’s histories – you should be! Meanwhile, during the day I was pretty obsessed with running lines. (This time, the performances were averaging 59:30.)

When I wasn’t running lines during the day, I was promoting my late-announced tour.

The very last performance of the run in Minnesota may have been the best. Though not a packed house by any means, they were responding very actively. My opening speech from King John found me speaking to a “Hubert” perhaps two rows into the audience, shaking his hand while making it clear that he is to assassinate the 15 year-old Prince Arthur. And while I usually pick some helpless victim out of the audience to nod towards as the target of this intended murder, there were two boys, perhaps 10 and 12 years old in the front row, and, nodding in their direction, the horrifying weight of King John’s cruel intentions resonated through the audience, a shock which gave way to a macabre laugh.

Toward the end of the play, when Richard III informs Queen Elizabeth that he intends to wed her young daughter, and that she should “Make bold her bashful years with your… experience,” the woman that I directed the speech towards in the front row got so creeped out that she was writhing in disgust. In fact, she tried to squirm her way behind the pole that she was sitting next to.

Somewhere in there, the Annapolis Shakespeare Company production of my “Imaginary Invalid” opened, and got 4 ½ stars in 

Back in Chicago, I was delighted to see that my friend and mentor Sue Paige had finally released her terrific "self-help" book, "Paiges of Wisdom." I'm a little prejudiced on this one, since I helped Sue design the cover and wrote a blub for the back of the book, but I highly recommend picking up a copy! Sue is the founder of Pathways, the group that has given me so much inspiration over the years. If you want a taste of what Pathways is about, this is a great place to start.

With the vast e-mail campaign now largely behind me (and at least ten bookings on the schedule for the coming fall), my point-of-focus shifted, in what felt like a subtle, but profound manner.

As ever, I have about a dozen projects either in immediate development, or planned for some time in the future, but rather than envisioning the endless chase of bookings as my immediate challenge (a black hole that never seems to fill to any satisfaction), I was starting to see my creative work as the end-in-and-of-itself.

These days, I find myself waking up in the morning and asking myself (or the voices in my head), “What do you want to work on today?”

In the audience at "The Schemings of Scapin"
And usually, my head, or my voices, have an answer.

And while much of most days is still filled with memorization (I’ve scheduled six entirely different one-man shows over the course of the coming fall!), I find myself challenged in other directions every day. 

Projects currently on my itinerary (some of which I have yet to get into gear on), include:
  • Improving my voiceover production quality, reading “The Encyclopedia of Voiceover” by Kate McClanahan, and “ivoiceover” by Erik J. Martin.
  • Creating a mini-voiceover studio, through an ingenious arrangement of foam baffling in a box.
  • Rereading Stanislavsky… (Still seeking out his passage on Richard’s “I can change colors with the chameleon…” from “Henry VI, Part III.”)
  • Writing/editing “How do you Remember All Those Lines?”
  • Chasing down a literary agent.
  • Scoping out the audition resources in Chicago.
  • Memorizing “Hamlet”. (Ten major speeches memorized already!)
  • Compiling a new “Shakespeare’s Histories” promo video. (NOW CREATED, SEE BELOW)
  • Doing the “Audiobook” version of “Acting at the Speed of Life; Conquering Theatrical Style
  • Doing the “Audiobook” version of “Shakespeare’s Histories; Ten Epic Plays at a Breakneck Pace!” (My attempts to record a “live” version during the KC Fringe Festival suffered from technical breakdown.)
  • Doing “Kindle” versions of all of my books.
  • Sending out resumes to the major Chicago theatres.
  • Re-introducing myself to the Standardized Patient community. (Actors who play patients in med schools.)
  • Doing the next draft of “Currency”  (My self-help book)
  • Doing the next draft of “Servant of Two Masters.”

What this represents to me is the beginning of taking these projects as ends in themselves. And, perhaps concordantly, of their value to the universe in-and-of their own right. In other words, the book promotion is not simply a kabuki dance to enhance my cred to increase my bookings (though it may well do that), but it could, and should, be a major income source. Especially with “Shakespeare’s Histories,” I think I’ve created something that can be a major contribution to our cultural understanding of some of our most important literary works.

Now it’s up to me to make that case.

"The Schemings of Scapin" in the Reynolds Tavern Courtyard
Photo by Joshua McKerrow

Temperature: Gradually descending into the 70s after a summer of 80s and 90s, with the sun going down earlier and earlier.

On Netflix: “Firefly” and “Serenity”.

On the I-pod: Anything by Caro Emerald, and “Everything is Awesome”

Ashlyn Thompson & Briana Manente in ASC's "Imaginary Invalid
Photo by Joshua McKerrow
Discoveries:  The “magic” is still there, when I take the risk to invoke its return. * Whether or not I have a show to push, just selling my books at conferences and festivals is worth the effort. * It helps that I’ve fashioned the perfect show for post-show book sales. * In chasing down “security,” am I simply putting off the career risk that I know that I need to take? * However bewildering or intimidating a project might seem to be, the very process of memorizing and absorbing it shows me the path for bringing it to theatrical life. And, thereby, perhaps the farther I stick my neck out in attempting impossible projects, the greater the upside when I find that life. * However certain I might be that the show is not going over with a given audience, I’m usually wrong. (The reverse is also true.) * Mounting a show with a single day’s notice is a kind of a badass thing to do. * All this creative work might well be an end in itself. And, perhaps, my most effective choice is to chase the thing that inspires me on any given day.

Next performance: At the Dangerous Theatre in Denver, September 5-13.

Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre Tour Schedule

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

FALL, 2014
9/2-3    IOWA / NEBRASKA
9/4       COLORADO
9/5-6    Dangerous Theatre, Denver, CO (LoS)
9/11-13 Dangerous Theatre, Denver, CO (LoS)
9/14-15 COLORADO
9/16-20 IDAHO
9/24-26 OREGON
9/27     Linfield College, McMinville, OR (Shakespeare’s Histories)
9/30     Verde Valley School, Sedona, AZ (Workshops: Classical Acting/Life of Moliere)
10/3     Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth, TX (Shakespeare’s Histories)
10/6     John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR
10/9-11 Georgia Theatre Conference, Columbus, GA (Criteria)
10/13   Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN (LoS)
10/16   DePaul University, Chicago, IL (MTT)
10/19-20  MINNESOTA
10/21   Central Lakes College, Brainerd, MN (GSAT)
10/22   ILLINOIS
10/24-26 MICHIGAN / OHIO
10/28-29 St. Ann’s, Virginia
10/31-11/4 MARYLAND
11/5     DELAWARE
11/6     NEW JERSEY
11/8-11 NEW YORK
11/12-14  NEW ENGLAND
11/13   AATF-Connecticut, Southbury, CT
11/15-16  MARYLAND
11/17   VIRGINIA
11/20   GEORGIA
11/21-23  FLORIDA
11/24   GEORGIA