Since its 1981 origins as a pass-the-hat act in California, the Reduced Shakespeare Company has created seven stage shows, two television specials, several failed TV pilots, and numerous radio pieces – all of which have been performed, seen, and heard the world over. The company’s itinerary has included stops at the White House, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London’s West End, Seattle Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre and Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, as well as performances in Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, Belgium, The Netherlands, Singapore and Bermuda – plus countless civic and university venues throughout the USA, Great Britain and Ireland.
The company’s first three shows, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) ran for nine years at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. They were London’s longest-running comedies, and the RSC had more shows running in the West End than Andrew Lloyd Webber. They were also funnier.
The “Bad Boys of Abridgment” unveiled a brand-new show in 2010: The Complete World of Sports (abridged), which reduces every sport ever played on every continent in the entire history of the world. It’s got balls. They also condensed literature into a 90-minute roller-coaster ride in All The Great Books (abridged), which has played to great acclaim at the Kennedy Center, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Seattle’s ACT Theatre, and Alabama Shakespeare Festival, as well as Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, and Sweden (in Swedish!).
They also applied their fast, funny and physical approach to World History in Western Civilization: The Complete Musical (abridged) [original title: The Complete Millennium Musical (abridged)], which toured simultaneously in the US, UK and Australia, and the Movies in Completely Hollywood (abridged), which skewers the 197 greatest films of all time and has received critical acclaim across the US, UK, Belgium, Holland, Hong Kong, and Barbados.
For television, the RSC compressed the first five seasons of Lost into a ten-minute film called Lost Reduced, and was a Jeopardy! category in the 2005 and 2006 Tournaments of Champions. They wrote and starred in The Ring Reduced, a half-hour version of Wagner’s Ring Cycle for Channel 4 (UK), and reduced the Edinburgh Festival for BBC and the soap opera Glenroe for RTE Ireland. Shakespeare (abridged) aired on PBS and is available on DVD, as is America (abridged). Numerous other TV appearances include NBC’s Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, Entertainment Tonight, CNN’s Showbiz This Week, and New Zealand’s Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (they lost).
For National Public Radio, the RSC has been heard on All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, Day to Day, West Coast Live, and To The Best of Our Knowledge. The BBC World Service commissioned the six-part Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show. The Reduced Shakespeare Company Christmas was heard on Public Radio International.
The RSC won the prestigious Shorty Award and has been nominated for an Olivier Award in London, two Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, DC, the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, and several podcast awards. RSC scripts are published in the US and UK, and translated into over a dozen languages. The RSC Radio Show, RSC Christmas, and Bible (abridged) are all available on CD and from iTunes. Broadway Play Publishing publishes their scripts. The RSC also creates unique entertainments for corporate events, working with such companies as Sky-TV, Time Magazine, Motorola, Citibank, and Rotary International.
Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Readers Guide for the Attention-Impaired (abridged) (Hyperion) is available in bookstores everywhere. And the free 20-minute Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast is available every week at iTunes and here on our website.
In November 2011, the RSC premiered its eighth theatrical minimum opus, The Ultimate Christmas show (abridged), at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA.