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#89: Decorah, IA; Bloomington, Elgin, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Elmhurst, IL; Grosse Point, MI; Cleveland, OH

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  • Tim Mooney
    First of all, thanks for all the inquiries about my dad. He s doing fine, with the exception perhaps of the bother from all of the tests the hospital put him
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 15, 2005
      First of all, thanks for all the inquiries about my dad. He's doing fine,
      with the exception perhaps of the bother from all of the tests the hospital
      put him through.

      Suddenly the shows race past me, and just as suddenly they come to a halt.
      The last two weeks of the tour were a sprint with barely any time to note
      what was going on. Following a fast weekend in Chicago, I made my way out to
      the northeast corner of Iowa. I forget that Iowa's northern border is
      actually well north of Illinois' border, which meant that I went to Iowa via
      Madison, Wisconsin.

      It's actually a very pretty area, with a varied landscape, particularly near
      the Mississippi River. My cell phone was out of commission for the course of
      this visit.

      They actually squeezed quite a bit into two days, with a workshop for the
      acting students (the usual, classical acting workshop), a workshop for
      French students ("the Life of Moliere" and "Creative Writing" squeezed into
      a 50-minute class), a workshop for a local theatre troupe (more about the
      life of Moliere, but with all the fun monologues I don't usually get a
      chance to explore), a Intro to Theatre class ("My Career in Theatre") and,
      of course, a performance of "Moliere Than Thou."

      I actually performed "Moliere" in an in-the-round setting, but they only
      used one bank of seats, and tucked away most of their set for "Threepenny
      Opera." The volunteer for the "Tartuffe" scene was a youngish girl with
      short-cropped hair wearing a jaunty cap. It fell off at least once during
      the ensuing action, and I helped her back on with it. Then in one of the
      moments of seduction, I got the idea to slowly lift the cap off of her head,
      which seemed to be distinctly scandalous. I could feel a ripple of reaction
      going through the audience, and she blushed as her hair was revealed.

      Back on the road to Bloomington, Illinois, where I performed an April Fools'
      Day show for Illinois Wesleyan University. Getting there, I realized how
      close they were to Illinois State University, and also that the Wesleyan
      French Department hadn't really worked on involving the Theatre Department
      with the show, so I spent the afternoon dashing off e-mails to the two local
      theatre departments, telling them of the show. I don't know if any of them
      eventually came, but it stimulated some conversation which may be beneficial
      down the line.

      The Dean of Students at Wesleyan (my host) was actually a French Teacher, so
      he was a big advocate for my show. I did a lecture for a small French class,
      and he was already suggesting that they'll want to get me back in to do it

      A Bloomington high school brought about thirty kids to the show that night,
      which was on a platform in a somewhat open area of the Student Union. The
      kids were very responsive, and their teacher encouraged them to volunteer
      when those opportunities arose. Afterwards, another of the hosts was
      effusive, saying that she'd never hosted an event where none of the hundred
      or so students walked out in the middle of it. (Apparently, they're
      notorious for walking out after the first hour of anything; even a recent
      visit from Kurt Vonnegut.) Later, the Dean (who actually DID have to leave
      early to sing a part in an opera) sent me this:

      "I have studied Molière for thirty years and have always dreamed of seeing
      him perform. I have seen his plays offered by La Comédie Française and
      other French troupes, but have never before caught a significant glimpse of
      what his own performance may have looked like. That you were able to do
      this so successfully in English is truly commendable. I very much hope you
      will consider coming back to IWU. . I very much enjoyed your master class,
      and know the students did too. I was completely engrossed in your evening
      performance, and inspired to sing my own eight measures in the Magic Flute
      with molièresque gusto! Russell, my son, the budding actor, told me on the
      way home that he felt further reinforced in wanting to explore acting
      because of what he had seen you do. I came away from the day's activities
      convinced Molière would heartily approve of your work. I look forward to
      meeting you again and hosting you on our campus."

      The next morning, I was home again, this time for a three-day visit, working
      with my brother, Kevin, on some of the backing tracks for "Karaoke Knights,"
      and finishing off the semi-annual e-mail campaign to French teachers.
      (Bookings for next year are starting to fall into place.)

      Sunday night I attended a celebration of life for Jeff Paige, the leader of
      Pathways, who had died a week before. Jeff had been a great inspiration to
      me, encouraging me to take on the fulfillment of the work that I was doing.
      He was in attendance for the first public performance of "Moliere Than
      Thou," (March, 2001!) and despite the fact that I'd blanked on my lines
      that night, he constantly advocated for the value of what I was doing. When
      I couldn't afford to quit my job to pursue my work full time, he told me
      that I just wasn't ready yet. It may have been his confidence that enabled
      me to BE ready, when the opportunity arose less than six months later. When
      I expressed some concern over the apparent fall-off in bookings in my second
      year of touring, his answer was simple: "Charge more." There were thousands
      of people at the celebration Sunday night, all of whom had received similar
      encouragement from Jeff. His impact will be felt for ages to come.

      On Monday, I had a show in Elgin, Illinois (I was born in Elgin, but seem to
      have missed the commemorative plaque.) While setting up the show, I realized
      that I'd left my pre and post-show music CD back in Bloomington, so I had to
      dig through my CD collection to find something appropriately classical. I
      settled on Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." It was actually nice
      not to have to listen to that annoying harpsichord music for once. There
      were, perhaps a couple hundred students, and later, I visited with my
      cousin-in-law, Judy, who works at the high school library.

      That afternoon, I started packing. I was getting ready for a tour that was
      going to take me out of town for almost three months. But first .

      I had three shows on Tuesday. First thing in the morning, I had a show at
      Buffalo Grove High School, where my old friend Kate (we were in "Music Man"
      together, back in 1979!) brought me in. The kids were mostly Advanced
      Placement (AP) students in French, History and Theatre (with the exception
      of one class that filed in late and left early) and they "got" lots of the
      jokes. This was a fast 45-minute show followed by a quick 20-minute talkback
      session, before I continued on to Hersey High School (which I graduated from
      quite some time ago) for what I thought was a noon performance.

      I was running a bit behind, loading my trunk onto the stage at about 11:15,
      when I noticed that students were filing into the theatre already. I checked
      with my host (and former teacher) Dennis McSherry, and found that the
      performance was actually supposed to start at 11:15!

      I held the fastest technical rehearsal on record, changed into costume, and
      was ready to go by 11:20.

      Denny gave me a warm introduction (as had Kate; both of them had hosted my
      show four years ago, when I was first getting it ready for performance with
      Stage Two), and I dove right in, somewhat grateful for the circumstances
      that didn't allow me any time to get nervous about how well the show would
      go. Afterwards, I had another talkback session, which went very well (Denny
      is talking about bringing me in for a workshop next year), and then back
      home for a final hour of packing.

      With the car fully loaded, I had one final performance of the day at 4:30 at
      Elmhurst College. The French teacher there had seen me perform at the
      Alliance Francaise a year ago, and was already enthusiastic about the
      performance. In fact, she came to me backstage, asking if she could perform
      Elmire in the volunteer sequence.

      This is, I think, the first time that anyone has ever tried to arrange to be
      the volunteer before the show goes on. She had, in fact, run off the pages
      for the volunteer scene from the script that I had e-mailed to her, and was
      planning to carry them onto the stage. I explained that this would make her
      look too much like a "plant," and gently removed the script from her hands,
      while encouraging her back out onto the stage to introduce the play. (Of
      course, since she was making the introduction, she couldn't help but look
      like a plant anyway.) She turned out to be a feisty volunteer, spending most
      of the scene struggling out from my ever-tightening grip.

      Upon completing the THIRD PERFORMANCE OF THE DAY(!), I proceeded to pack up
      the show and get onto the road. I had a drive to Detroit that night, with a
      performance at Grosse Pointe South High School the following morning. I
      pulled into town at about 12:45, and eventually made it off to sleep.

      The tech director had arranged to meet with me at 11 a.m. to go over the
      show, but it turned out that the show didn't actually go on until 1:30.
      Somehow, in the last two days, I had badly misjudged the starting times of
      two shows. (I guess it's time to be done with this for a while.) The show
      went great, in a beautiful auditorium with a professional lighting/sound
      crew. The French teacher promised to tell other local teachers about the
      event. At one point, I realized that she'd overpaid me. The school had put
      down a deposit many months ago, but didn't deduct that amount from the final
      payment. Reluctantly I pointed this out and refunded the difference. (They
      were, at least, impressed with my honesty.)

      With the conclusion of this show, I took a break, spending five days
      visiting with Isaac in Detroit. He played hooky from school one day, and
      another day we went to his swimming tournament. (He was racing in the
      butterfly, the breast stroke and the freestyle.) It made for a long day, and
      afterwards we got a hotel room and watched TV.

      The next morning, when we went down for our "continental breakfast", I
      discovered that there were a few dozen people from the American Association
      of Community Theatre's regional conference staying at our hotel. I grabbed
      some flyers and business cards out of my car (Again, I think that was Jeff
      Paige's voice in my head, telling me to take advantage of this opportunity)
      and schmoozed through an extra cup of coffee, while Isaac went back to the
      room to read. (Most of the performers had noticed my "MOLIERE" license

      And finally, it was on to Cleveland. Monday night was the first rehearsal
      for "Imaginary Invalid," and once again, the cast was amazing. This is the
      first show that I've directed since 2001 (not counting directing myself),
      and the talent level is incredible. I'm just as amazed that they are so
      responsive to the things that I have to say, and that I actually have stuff
      to add to the process. We're into the early stages of "blocking" now, and I
      find myself stopping about every other line to choreograph this moment and

      For the time being, while waiting for the "interludes" to have music
      composed for them, the cast is inventing tunes to them, and occasionally
      falling into old familiar melodies which seem to fit some of these songs all
      too well.

      They're putting me up in one of those studio-apartment hotels while I'm in
      town, and for the first time in years, I actually went grocery shopping with
      a list. Suddenly I had to get ketchup, mustard, sugar, cream, bread,
      margarine .

      It's been a busy couple of days in Cleveland, putting together a rehearsal
      schedule, meeting with scene and costume designers, taking care of a bunch
      of preliminaries that I probably should have done before the first
      rehearsal. Things are pretty well up to speed now, allowing me a morning to
      collect my thoughts, here, and I'm gradually getting back to work on
      "Karaoke Knights." All of the songs are now written, and my brother Kevin
      and old friend Greg Cruz are putting together new arrangements to three of
      them. My friend Lee, from Tacoma, has created an illustration. Now it's up
      to me to make the show work.


      Temperature: Mid-50s
      Miles on the Vibe: 135,500
      Attendance: 20 + 8 + 10 + 50 + 70 + 7 + 100 + 170 + 70 + 150 + 50 + 200 =
      Reading: The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov
      Listening to: The Who's Greatest Hits, which had little stickers on the
      package advertising "Includes 'Who Are You' as heard on the hit TV show CSI"
      and "Includes 'Bargain' as featured in the Nissan commercial." -- Also:
      Isaac has developed a fondness for an Electric Light Orchestra CD he found
      in my car, so we listen a lot to "Mr. Blue Sky" and "Don't Bring Me Down."
      Discoveries: Having done the show for four years now, I've begun a cycle of
      revisiting schools that had me in before, as students who were Freshmen back
      then have now graduated. * Having worked with Moliere for about eight years
      now, the hosts are starting to introduce me as "One of the foremost experts
      on Moliere in the United States." (Funny thing is: I never saw myself as an
      expert on anything, so much as a director with a lot of strong opinions on
      how things ought to go.) * Long remembered lessons from Jeff Page: Honor
      what people say they want to create in their lives, and respond to them
      where they are, rather than where I think they should be.
      Next Show: Orlando, FL (Preview of Karaoke Knights) 4/25, Cleveland, OH
      (Imaginary Invalid) 5/20, Orlando FL ("Karaoke Knights") 5/21-29.

      WINTER '05
      4/9-5/20 The Beck Center (Cleveland, OH) (Available for NE Ohio bookings)
      5/20-29 Orlando Fringe Festival ("Karaoke Knights, a one-man rock opera")
      6/1-12 Cincinnati Fringe Festival
      7/7-10 Am Assn of Teachers of French, Quebec City, Quebec
      7/14-17 Thunder Bay Fringe Festival
      7/20-30 Winnipeg Fringe Festival
      8/4-14 Saskatoon Fringe Festival
      8/18-29 Boulder Fringe Festival
      9/8-18 Vancouver Fringe Festival

      FALL, 2005
      9/19-21 Available WA, OR, ID, MT
      9/22-23 Available ID, UT, NV
      9/24 Available AZ
      9/25 Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
      9/26 U of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
      9/27 Available AZ
      9/28-29 Las Vegas Academy of International Studies and Performing Arts
      (Las Vegas, NV)
      9/30-10/3Available S. CA
      10/2-3 Available N. CA
      10/4-6 Available UT, CO, NM
      10/7-10 Available CO, WY,
      10/11-15 Available ND, SD, NE, KS
      10/16-20 Available OK, TX
      10/21-22 Available LA, MS, AL
      10/23-25 Available TN, KY, MO, IA
      10/26-28 Available MN, WI, IL
      10/29 "Criteria" Illinois Mensa Convention (Arlington Heights, IL)
      10/31-11/2 Available IN, MI
      11/3 Interlochen Academy (Interlochen, MI)
      11/4 Available MI
      11/5-8 Available OH, WV, PA, NY
      11/9 Available New England
      11/10 Bowdoin College (Bowdoin, ME)
      11/12-13 Available New England
      11/14-15 Available NJ, MD, DE, VA, NC, SC, GA
      11/16-17 Florida Community College at Jacksonville (2 noon shows)
      11/18 Polk County Schools (Bartow, FL)
      11/21-22 Florida Community College at Jacksonville (2 noon shows)
      11/19-23 Available FL, GA, SC, NC, VA
      11/24-27 Thanksgiving
      11/28-30 Available FL, SC, NC, VA, TN, KY
      12/1-16 Open for suggestions

      Jan 1-March 1, 2006 Available for extended run/residencies/Conferences

      (Jan 10-15: ACTF Illinois State)
      (Jan 18-22 (last year's dates): ACTF Fargo, ND)
      (Jan 21-24: Arts Presenters Conference)
      (Jan 25-29: TETA: Austin, TX)
      (Feb ____: SCOLT Conference, Orlando, FL)
      (March 1-4: SETC: Orlando, FL)
      (March 9-11: Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages,
      Chicago, IL)

      SPRING 2006
      3/5-12 Available GA, FL, TN, VA, NC, SC
      3/13-15 Available AL, MS, AR, LA
      3/16-21 Available MO, KS, OK, TX
      3/22-26 Available NM, CO, UT, AZ
      3/27-30 Available NV, S.CA
      3/31-4/4 Available N.CA, OR
      4/5-8 Available WA, ID, WY, MT
      4/9-11 Available ND, SD, NE, MN
      4/12-14 Available IA, WI, IL
      4/15-19 Available IL, IN, MI, OH, KY, WV
      4/18-19 Carbondale, IL (Southern Illinois University) (Criteria)
      4/20-27 Available PA, NY, New England
      4/28-5/5 Available NJ, MD, DE, VA, NC, SC, TN, AR
      5/7 Richardson, TX (AATF North Texas)
      5/6-5/10 Available LA, MS, AL, GA
      5/11-18 Available FL
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