Tim Mooney, author of "Moliere than Thou" and "Lot o' Shakespeare," is coming to the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts at West Virginia Wesleyan College on Feb.18 at 8 p.m. to present "The Greatest Speech of All Time," a work of 10 speeches given by Socrates, Frederick Douglass, Abe Lincoln and more.
"I love being able to bring moments of historical consequence, where great deeds hang in the balance, to immediate and tangible life," Mooney said.
"The Greatest Speech of All Time" leads the audience through the words that shaped history as they were being spoken. Mooney's special taste for recognizing and interpreting the shades of irony and hyperbole which informed the oratory, and his ability to untangle the "spaghetti" of centuries-old syntax, recreates these events, enabling the audience to experience the moment when everything hangs in the balance.
We watch Socrates, having been condemned to death by an Athenian jury, giving his famous "Apology," in anticipation of his death sentence. Socrates' bravery, along with the thickness of his irony, is unmistakable as he predicts the dread consequences that will befall his accusers.
Mark Antony delivers "Friends, Romans, Countrymen," addressing the mob at Caesar's funeral, while deftly turning their anger against the "honorable men" who conspired to assassinate Caesar.
Frederick Douglass presents a searing Fourth-of-July indictment of slavery, mounting a "fiery stream" of rebuke for the "revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy" that characterized the American slave trade.
Mooney portrays Abraham Lincoln with Shakespearean gravitas, recreating the Gettysburg Address that Lincoln (incorrectly) suggested "the world will little note nor long remember," even as he reinvigorates the Union, galvanizing them to the "great task remaining before us."
In a comic turn, Teddy Roosevelt, running for President as the leader of the Bull Moose Party, delivers a lengthy address, in spite of the fact that he has just been shot. Over his aides' objections, Roosevelt insists that "the issues at stake in this campaign" are far more important than his own life.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's first inaugural speech, "Fear Itself," delivered in the midst of the Great Depression, sounds startlingly contemporary.
Mooney performs three of Winston Churchill's speeches, from the run-up to Germany's invasion: "Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat," followed by "We shall Fight them on the Beaches" and "This Was their Finest Hour."
Finally, Dr. Martin Luther King speaks to the Memphis Sanitation Workers the day before he is shot, taking his audience on an imaginary journey over time, eerily anticipating his own death in the "I have been to the mountaintop" speech and promising that "we as a people will get to the promised land!"
"The Greatest Speech of All Time" is a free event hosted by Bobcat Entertainment.
For more information, please contact the Bobcat Entertainment Office at 304-473-8104. Information on the Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre can be found at www.timmooneyrep.com.
All Arts Alive! events are sponsored by the 88 Restaurant & Lounge and Bicentennial Inn.