One man managed to single-handedly, not to mention successfully, perform several 17th-century plays in front of a crowd of high school students on the University of Central Arkansas campus Wednesday morning.
French, English, drama and oral communications students from across Arkansas, including Conway High School and St. Joseph High School, attended Timothy Mooney's one-man play, "Molire Than Thou."
Mooney has been performing this act for over six years across the country in order to share the plays of Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molire, starring as none other than the French comic playwright himself.
The play was set in 1671 and began as Molire introduced himself and explained his solo performance by saying the rest of the cast was confined to bed for 24 hours due to bad shellfish. He added he had the foresight to order the chicken.
Mooney acted as several different characters who starred in comedies ranging from "Tartuffe" to "Don Juan" and had the high school crowd erupting with laughter the entire time.
According to Melinda Francis, an English teacher at St. Joseph High School, her students were very impressed with Mooney's interpretations of Molire. She added the students she brought to the performance just finished their senior play and said they felt a connection to Mooney.
"They just finished learning all their lines and they realized how hard that is and were really impressed that this guy does it all on his own," Francis said. "And we just had juniors and seniors there, and they were able to really get the humor of the performance."
One of Francis' senior students, Caleb Seiter, was one of the two contributing actors Mooney, as Molire, chose from the audience to assist him with his act.
"I was so proud of him to get up there," Francis said. "And after he was finished, he said he wasn't nervous until he got up on stage and looked out to see the audience staring back at him, but we think he did a great job."
Francis said Seiter is one of the school's own actors and recently starred in the senior play, "Medium Rare," so she knew he would be willing to jump on stage.
Although the students at St. Joseph High School don't study Molire in their classes, Francis said she thought it was important they were exposed to his work.
"When kids think of the Renaissance period, they automatically think of Shakespeare and not any of the other playwrights at that time," Francis said. "So the other English teachers and I just wanted the kids to see that it is not just Shakespeare out there."
Francis added several of the students who attended the play are interested in studying drama and she felt it was a good opportunity for the students who were curious about one-man acts see one brought to life.
A.J. Spiridigliozzi, an oral communications teacher on the east campus of Conway High School, brought a group of drama students to the performance Wednesday, and he said they loved every minute of it.
"I knew a lot of the kids didn't know Molire, but they still got something out of it and because he had a lot of gusto, the show was very attractive to them," Spiridigliozzi said.
Another group from both campuses of Conway High School were the French students who were excited to see the works of the French playwright they had been studying in their classes.
"The students really enjoyed it and they are all hoping he will come again next year," Stephanie Lamar, French teacher at Conway High School East, said. "They thought he was hilarious and were telling their friends about it all day long."
Lamar added although her lower-level high school students have only studied aspects of Molire's life, students on the west campus have been reading "The School for Wives," which was one of the plays presented. She added the students were excited to see what they were reading brought to the stage.
"I also really appreciated the translations he did and I thought they were very authentic," Lamar said. "It's always difficult to translate things like theater and plays that rhyme into another language while making it still appealing to the audience."
Mooney's performance, held at UCA's Reynolds Performance Hall, was sponsored by the World Languages Department at UCA and the Cabot High School French Club.
(Staff writer Jessica Bauer can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)
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