Who’s Howard?

This mini biography is complemented by excerpts from my autobiography.

Now a writer and actor, I retired in 2008 from editorial work in online and print publishing at World Book, Chicago. My main creative focus is comedy and drama for theatre, with poetry, short stories, and memoirs along the way.

Chicago is a wonderful breeding ground for new drama, and a fertile area for acting opportunities. At the start of this millennium, the wonderful Chicago theatre family adopted me — heartfelt thanks to the many talented actors, directors, writers, and writing mentors I worked with.

On retirement, I’ve returned to my first theatrical home of Cheltenham, and enjoy the Writers Lab at the Everyman Theatre, acting and singing with the Playhouse Company, chairing and writing with Playhouse New Drama, writing  poems with Cheltenham  Poetry Society, and helping organize Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

Retirement, they say, is one long holiday/vacation. But I’ve never distinguished between holidays and the rest of life, and no longer insist on being paid for work that I love. So retirement simply allows more time to pursue passions in theatre, writing, politics, family and friends.

Early days
Born soon after D-Day (yes, the one in 1944), I was lucky to grow up in Cheltenham, a spa town and cultural centre in the west of England. Cheltenham’s major music and literature festivals surely nourished my singing and writing, which have merged with my dominant passion of theatre.

My stage career started at age 11, in a school production of the opera The Poisoned Kiss by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The great composer attended the last performance, aged 84, and staggered up the steps onto the stage to congratulate the cast. His ascent was made more difficult by us chorus boys lining the steps in awe, but making no effort to help him. From the music director’s telling off afterwards, I learnt the importance of caring for and about the creators of work for theatre. Half a century later, I tried to become one of those creators. Perhaps I’ll be lucky enough to reach 84 and have an opportunity to stagger onto the stage and congratulate the cast of one of my creations.

Will I still inhale, will I still exhale, when I’m eighty-four?             Howard Timms
(Acknowledgments to Mike Rychlewski and the Beatles)

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