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TBA Online: News & Features: October 2014

Proud to Be Part of the Queenie Moon Conspiracy

Wednesday, October 15, 2014   (0 Comments)
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By Alan Kline

How do you get 1,000 theatre artists, passionate patrons and community members onto their feet before a word is spoken? Bring out Queenie Moon!



Joan Mankin (center) in Counter Attack at Stagebridge, 2012.

Photo: Mitch Tobias,

The initial standing ovation was one of several for Queenie Moon (a.k.a. Joan Mankin) at "The Queenie Moon Conspiracy Show," a benefit held on October 5 at ACT's Geary Theater. I was lucky enough to be present for what Mankin's daughter Emma called "a coming together of her extended family." Mankin was recently diagnosed with ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig's disease) and frontal temporal dementia—and "The Queenie Moon Conspiracy Show" successfully raised $45,000 to help with her care.

More than just a fundraiser, the show was a retrospective and celebration of Mankin's life. Jael Weisman's "Keeping Up With the Joans" hilariously recounted Joan Mankin running away to San Francisco and joining the San Francisco Mime Troupe. It was only natural she'd join the Circus soon after. Her subsequent work with the Pickle Family Circus, Lilith Women's Theatre, and dozens of other companies in the Bay Area has lasted for more than 40 years.

The evening highlighted Mankin's talent, kindness, hilarity and spirit. The story of her goading the Lilith company through the debris of then-exploding Mount St. Helens to reach their next tour stop, as told by company member Reno, had the audience cheering. And no celebration of Mankin would be complete without performances by artists with whom she's worked. From the clowns greeting guests—many of them Mankin's former students—to acts by luminaries Geoff Hoyle and Bill Irwin, the performers all donated their time. And they are just some of the many, many people Mankin has influenced.

Perhaps more than anything, the evening showcased the wonderful community to which Mankin has dedicated her life. That initial ovation was not just for the breadth of her work, it was for a lifetime of teaching, supporting the community, bringing art to the people and spreading joy wherever she went. On this night, the community gave that love and laughter right back. We were all proud to be a part of Joan Mankin's family, and you could see how much it meant in Mankin's smile.

The Queenie Moon Conspiracy is still accepting money to help with Joan Mankin's care. If interested, readers can donate at



Alan Kline is Marketing Resource Manager for Theatre Bay Area.