Tim Mooney makes Shakespeare accessible


Tim Mooney performs various monologues from different works by William Shakespeare at the “Lot O’ Shakespeare” event on Nov. 11.

Shannon Beaudry, Staff Writer

The FMU Arts and Lecture series presented “Lot O’ Shakespeare” on Thursday, Nov. 11. The show was presented by the Tim Mooney Repertory Theatre, whose sole member is Tim Mooney. It took place in Chapman Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Before the show began, each member of the rather large audience was given an “IAGO” card. This looked like a regular Bingo card, except that each square was labeled with a different Shakespeare play or sonnet. The name “Iago” comes from Shakespeare’s famous play “Othello.”

After the audience members were given cards and settled in their seats, Tim Mooney took the stage, wearing a traditional Shakespearean costume, complete with doublet, tights, and a jester’s hat. He greeted the audience and prefaced the show by first giving some background information.

He went on to explain his dilemma about how to organize his repertoire of Shakespeare monologues: chronologically, by request, at random. Then, with an obvious flair for the dramatic, Mooney revealed a bingo cage, saying that this was his chosen method to deliver his monologues.

He then explained that his one-man show was also a game that involved audience participation. He would choose a ball at random from the bingo cage and perform the monologue or sonnet written on that ball. The audience would refer to their “IAGO” card and mark off each square that corresponded with the given monologue. The first to mark off a row of four and shout out “IAGO” would win a “Lot O’ Shakespeare” t-shirt.

Mooney then went straight to the monologues, calling off each chosen ball, explaining the back story to the specific play, and performing the chosen monologue. Throughout the performances, lines from the monologue were shown to the audience. At certain points, when another character’s lines were highlighted in yellow, that audience was able to call these lines out.

In fact, Mooney’s performance offered many opportunities for audience participation. He often went out into the front row, using audience members as other characters to make the scenario seem more real.

The audience was very involved and responded well to Mooney’s prompts. Dr. Jon Tuttle, Professor of English and faculty coordinator for “Lot O’ Shakespeare,” was very pleased with the audience’s response.

“My primary impression of the evening was pride in our audience,” said Tuttle. “FMU acquitted itself well that evening because some of our best citizens showed up and made us worthy of The Bard.”

Towards the end of the performance, a girl called out “IAGO!” After checking her marked monologues for accuracy, Mooney handed over her t-shirt with a congratulatory smile. For the rest of the time, Mooney took requests for performances, performing monologues from some of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays.

He performed sonnets, comedies, tragedies and histories. One minute, he was wielding a sword and calling for bravery as the title character of “Henry V,” and the next he was enthusiastically discussing possible sexual exploits as the plump Falstaff in “Merry Wives of Windsor.”

Mooney showed a great deal of memorization, range and overall talent as he moved through monologues.

One student, history major Debra Walters, was thrilled by the performance.

“I was enthralled. My favorite [monologue] was ‘Henry V’,” Walters said. “As a historian, that was my favorite.”

Tuttle also had nothing but good things to say about Mooney and his performance.

“I also enjoy anything Tim Mooney does,” Tuttle said. “He’s such a tireless, generous performer and a good person.”

Mooney told the audience that one of his goals with “Lot O’ Shakespeare” was to show people that Shakespeare is not boring, that it can be understood and enjoyed by anybody. If the audience reaction is any indication, Tim Mooney seems to have accomplished this goal at FMU.