NEWTON, NJ – Newton High School students had a visit from Moliere last week. Initially offered to French language students, the program was opened to all English and Drama classes. Timothy Mooney presented a one man show to an attentive, responsive audience of more than 300 students in Newton’s auditorium.
Mooney portrayed Moliere, born Jean-Baptists Poquin, the French playwright and actor in the mid 1600’s. Moliere is widely read by French students to this day and is widely considered one of the great masters of literary comedy.
Mooney had a cast of characters in the form of wigs and hats in a large trunk on the stage. Despite his lack of scenery and props Mooney held the students attention from the very start of his energetic and comedic portrayal. His 85 minute long montage of representative works of Moliere continued without pause. He began each vignette by narrating, providing a brief history of the backdrop against which the play was originally conceived and produced. He then performed a scene, gesticulating, jumping down off the stage and twice recruiting members of the audience.
Julie Nehrings and Austin Kalaydjian were willing participants, being led on stage by Mooney/Moliere to read a scene. Both students perform in the theatrical productions at the school.
At NHS Mooney performed scenes from Tartuffe, The School for Wives, Don Juan, Scapin and others.
Mooney “has written 17 iambic pentameter variations of the plays of Moliere that have been produced around the world,” said the French Teacher Elizabeth Legon in her introduction to the students. “His ‘Doctor in Spite of Himself’ took third place in the Scottish Community Drama Association National Festival and was a finalist in Italy’s San Remo Global Education Festival.”
Newton Pride provided funding to bring this program to the students.
“He was amazing,” said Nehrings. “A true talent.”
Kalaydjian said, “As actors, he was very inspiring to us.”
Once the Moliere program was finished, Mooney offered a brief Shakespeare presentation as well.