Catawba to perform play about breast cancer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Simone Grant Timoney, a 1983 alumna of Catawba College, died in November 2005 after a six-year battle with breast cancer. Her thoughts and words will live again on Feb. 3 and 4 on campus when theatre arts students at her alma mater perform a reading of Timoney’s original play, “Tough Titties: Surviving Life, Love, and Death.”
Catawba Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Missy Barnes is directing the readings of Timoney’s play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, and Friday, Feb. 4, in Tom Smith Auditorium of Ketner Hall. These performances are free, open to the public, and will run around an hour and 15 minutes with no intermission. Those who plan to attend on Thursday, Feb. 3, should be aware that parking on campus near Tom Smith Auditorium will be challenging that particular evening due to evening classes.
The original play was completed and copyrighted in December 2002, but Timoney revised it several times before her death in 2005, according to her aunt, Sylvia Wiseman of Salisbury. It was staged as readers’ theatre several times in New York City but has never been offered as a full stage production.
The one-act drama focuses on experiences of breast cancer victims. Timoney used her own experiences following her diagnosis in 1999 and the experiences of other women she met during her treatments, Wiseman explained.
“She never wanted to direct or produce and couldn’t find anyone to step into that role,” Wiseman said. “She hoped to produce the play for public television.
“I thought the play had humor mingled with serious, thought-provoking dialogue,” Wiseman continued.
“Simone and I discussed presenting it similar to ‘Our Town,’ with women in a simple setting, talking while sitting, standing occasionally, walking a little, restless as they speak — pausing for impact. She did not want to use names, only colors and costumes that would follow that idea.”
Barnes noted that there is a balance of information about breast cancer mixed with personal experience and anecdote. “The script is touching, humorous, informative, entertaining, uplifting, and heartbreaking,” she said.
Catawba’s cast includes theatre arts professor Dayna Anderson; sophomores Katie Carpenter, Sydney Carpenter, Dee Clarke and Sara Coon; freshmen Brianna Gallagher and Jacquelyn Loy; and senior Zach Roe. Junior Mackenzie Westbrook of Charlotte collaborates with Barnes as assistant director.
After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for her original cancer, Timoney was declared cancer-free in 2001; however, her respite from the disease was short-lived. She was later diagnosed with secondary tumors in her brain. Timoney’s last visit to Salisbury was in May 2005 and by August of that year, she was in critical condition and never recovered.
“I want people to remember her courage to go through this,” Wiseman said. “When she was in remission, she was performing and working. She never gave up and she always looked forward to the next thing. In the final months of her life, she was looking forward to performing on the Queen Mary and to being in a movie.”
A native of Rowan County and a 1979 graduate of Salisbury High School, Timoney majored in theatre arts and speech at Catawba. That major allowed her to pursue a passion she realized at an early age. At age 8, she had a role in the musical, “Hello Dolly,” and at 10, she appeared in a production of “The Innocents.” Although she appeared in musicals, drama captured her heart and she “always longed for a featured role in a TV series,” Wiseman said.
After graduation, she was accepted at the Weist-Barron theatrical school in New York and became a resident of Manhattan, which she called home for more than 20 years. There, she sought roles as a dancer, singer and actress. She appeared in the daytime drama, “Loving,” on ABC and performed with the New York City Opera. She was a frequent performer with Murder Mystery, Inc., and did voice-overs for Japanimation. She appeared in several movies, including “Stay” and “The Pink Panther” starring Steve Martin. She entertained on cruises, including Queen Elizabeth 2’s voyages to London, Alaska and Mexico.
In 1993, she married Michael Timoney of New York City. Until her death, she was assistant manager of Westside Theatre, where she helped design costumes and sets. Independently, she created hand-painted ties, annual Christmas and Easter greeting cards, and special designs for corporate and medical offices.
At Catawba, a scholarship was established in memory of Timoney in 2007, with preference being given to students majoring in theatre arts. Memorial contributions to the scholarship by classmates and friends continue to be welcomed. Contact the Catawba College Development Office at 704-637-4394.
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