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Catawba Alumna's Play Survives Life, Love and Her Death

January 21, 2011

Category: Alumni, Events, Theatre Arts

Grant 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 that are scheduled.

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 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and the experiences of other women she met during her treatments, Wiseman explained.

"In one of the last revisions, she added the mantras, saying they have relative meanings," Wiseman said. "She never wanted to direct or produce and couldn't find anyone to step into that role. 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."

Professor Barnes noted that while the play incorporates many facets and facts about dealing with breast cancer, there is a balance of information mixed with personal experience and anecdote. "The script is touching, humorous, informative, entertaining, up-lifting, and heart-breaking," she said.

Catawba's cast includes Theatre Arts Professor Dayna Anderson; sophomores Katie Carpenter of Hickory, Sydney Carpenter of Mooresville, Dee Clarke of Kannapolis and Sara Coon of Dallas, Texas; freshmen Brianna Gallagher of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., and Jacquelyn Loy of Burlington, and senior Zach Roe of Connelly Springs complete the cast. Junior Mackenzie Westbrook of Charlotte collaborates with Professor Barnes as assistant director.

GrantAfter undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for her original diagnosis, Timoney was declared cancer-free in 2001; however, her respite from the disease was short-lived. She was later diagnosed with secondary breast cancer 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 eight, 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 her graduation from Catawba, she was accepted at the Weist-Barron theatrical school in New York City and she became a resident of Manhattan, the city she called home for more than 20 years. There, she sought roles as a dancer, singer and actress. She appeared in the daytime TV 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 movie starring Steve Martin. She entertained on cruises, including Queen Elizabeth 2's voyages to London, Alaska and Mexico.

In 1993, she married husband 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 doctors' offices.

At Catawba, a scholarship was established in memory of Timoney in 2007, with preference for it 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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