Students will decide which is the “greatest speech ever written” when author and performer
Timothy Mooney presents a monologue of historical speeches Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in
the Chapman Auditorium.
On his website, “Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre,” Mooney explained that he enjoys
performing historical speeches because it allows him and his audience to become a part of
influential moments in history.
“I love being able to bring moments of historical consequence, where great deeds hang in the
balance, to immediate and tangible life,” Mooney said.
During the monologue, Mooney will be performing speechesgiven by the following historical
figures: The Philosopher Socrates, Roman Gen. Mark Antony, U.S. presidents Abraham Lincoln,
Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
and civil rights activists Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr.
According to Jon Tuttle, English professor, Mooney’s idea for the monologue came after he
entered the words “greatest speech of all time” into Google in search of material for a new play.
When the search yielded many different results, Mooney decided to create a one-man play from
ten of the speeches.
Mooney described his passion for performing historical speeches as an “impulse in the
human psyche” and a desire to transport audiences to monumental moments in history.
In a press release, Mooney said the impact of each speech is due, in part, to its potential to be
received either positively or negatively by members of an audience.
“Each of the speeches seems to have particular things in common: There is an element of
risk,” Mooney said. “There seems to be some life-or-death stakes surrounding each speech.
There is tension implicit in the process of speaking: somebody may not agree and may need
Tuttle said he believes student would benefit from attending Mooney’s presentation because
it illustrates the importance of courage in the face of adversity.
He referenced the “The Great Man Theory,” a 19th century idea which states the most
profound events in history arecreatedby the actions of great men, to explain.
“According to the Great Man Theory of History, the world has been shaped by dynamic
personalities unafraid of defying conventional thought, people who were smart enough and brave
enough and dynamic enough to stand in front of a crowd and say, ‘Now see here,’” Mooney
said.“This play reminds us that the world changes because certain remarkable individuals have
the will and, most importantly, the words, to change it.”
Mooney is the founder and former editor of theater magazine “The Script Review” and
served as the artistic director of Chicago’s Stage Two Theatre, where he produced nearly 50 plays
in five years.