On January 10, 1975 I was born the youngest of four children to John and Patricia Toomey. I was the youngest by eight years. Later when I asked my Mother if I was a mistake her reply was and is still to this day “You were an unexpected blessing.“ My home was a very tiny, very loving Irish Catholic family. When I needed space I locked myself in the bathroom (the only room with a lock that only worked sometimes) to read for hours. When I wanted attention I entertained. I remember always playing with the gang of kids from the neighborhood. Most of them either named Michael or Jason. My education was in the hands of the Catholics. Thirteen years in total St Mary’s Annunciation and St John’s Preparatory School. Nuns, Priest, Monks and Lay people. It was here that I discovered my love for language, my love for myths, my love for stories and my love for Shakespeare.
In 1998 I began my work with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox MA. Starting as a trainee, I was quickly hired to work in the award winning, nationally acclaimed Education Department. It was here that I learned the basics of directing and teaching Shakespeare to all ages. I spent six years working year round as an Actor and Director, living, breathing, studying and playing with Shakespeare. I trained for three years as a fight Chorographer under Fight Masters Tony Simotes and Kevin Coleman. I got to work with amazing artists like Tina Packer, Jonny Epstein and Jonathan Croy. It was at this time that people started to notice my skills in physical acting and Clowning, though I wasn’t sure what people were responding to.
A Physical Awakening
In January 2003 I was involved in a major car accident only two blocks from my company housing. I spent a week in the ICU at the local Hospital. With no health insurance and no ability to work I returned to my family home to recuperate. As I was slowly getting back on my feet, first shuffling down the street then returning to the gym, I became curious about why people were commenting on the physical aspects of my work. That November I moved to London England to attend the London International School of Performing Arts. LISPA. I was in the first class of a new School founded by Thomas Prattki. It was a wild time of off-balances, discoveries and finding the craft of physical theatre. This was two years studying the work of the late Jacques Lecoq and two years of finding my voice as an Artist. I received my Master of Fine Arts from Naropa University in cooperation with LISPA. While in London I became a Founding Member of Split Knuckle Theatre an internationally touring physical theatre company that devises new works.
Returning to the United States I decided to again work for Shakespeare & Company. It was then that I met a young actress named Sarah Brown and quickly fell in love.
A Life in Art
It was at this point that I became interested in the question of what it means to be an Artist. What if my Art work was no longer limited to acting on stage or directing or even teaching but what would happen if I looked at my life as a work of Art. What would it mean to look at my relationships, my home, the way I eat, how I treat people, everything? What if I looked at everything in my life as a means to practice my Art? What if I considered my life a continuous work of Art?
Over the past several years I continue to play with these questions as I perform and tour across the globe. I continue to teach and direct, at regional theatres and universities across the U.S. In 2012 Sarah and I were married and moved to New York City where I co-founded a new studio called the Humanist Project, which looks at the very question of what it means to bring our entire Humanity to our Art, our Lives, our Work and our Play.