Since its pass-the-hat origins in 1981, the Reduced Shakespeare Company has created ten world-renowned 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 off-Broadway, at the White House, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London’s West End, Seattle Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre and Montreal’s famed Just For Laughs Festival, as well as performances in Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, Singapore and Bermuda, plus countless civic and university venues throughout the USA, the UK, and Europe.
In 2016, in honor of the company’s 35th anniversary and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the RSC premieres its tenth stage show, William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged), at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC. In 2013 the “Bad Boys of Abridgment” unveiled The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) –to critical and commercial acclaim at both Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, as well as on national tours of the the USA and UK. The Complete World of Sports (abridged)opened in 2010 at Merrimack Rep and after touring the USA and UK, ran at the Arts Theatre in London during the 2012 London Olympics. In 2011 came the world premiere of The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged)which became Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s best-selling holiday show ever, and the third-best-selling show in MRT’s history and also enjoyed a successful run at San Diego Repertory Theatre as well as multiple tours across the USA.
In 2019, the “other RSC” — in this case, the Royal Shakespeare Company — offered a gender-flipped production of Taming of the Shrew that underscored the play’s issues of hierarchy and power. Austin Tichenor and Dee Ryan saw the production as an NT Live broadcast and are joined by GoodTickleBrain’s Mya Gosling and dramaturg Kate Pitt (who saw the production live onstage in Stratford) and they discuss how the production landed in the two formats. This fascinating book club conversation touches on the play’s wonderful mutability; the comedy of straight male vanity; whether there’s a need to “fix” it; agreeing on the game of the scene; similarities to Henry and Kate in Henry V and other troublesome couples; woman-spreading and occupying space; surprising lack of sparks; transforming modern examples of masculine anger; and how (or whether) the play changes based on how (or whether) Petruchio changes. (Length 31:35)
Heidi Schmidt, assistant director of outreach and resident dramaturg for Colorado Shakespeare Festival, talks about Colorado Shakes’ program (now sadly on hiatus until the end of the COVID pandemic) for bringing Shakespeare into schools and using his characters and storylines as teachable moments. Featuring the dangers (and value) of the escalating pranks in Twelfth Night; the challenge and power of interdepartmental collaborations; the difference between good behavior and powerful drama; how companies gain both empathy and credibility; training actors to be teaching artists; ways of reframing Romeo and Juliet; fantastic quotes; the importance of under-promising and over-delivering; and the responsibility of giving young people (of any age) tools for dealing with crisis. (Length 20:47)
Remember live theatre? Remember when the big story back in late February was the controversial Ivo Van Hove production of West Side Story on Broadway? Daniel Pollack-Pelzner, a professor of Shakespeare, English, and Gender Studies at Linfield College in Oregon, and a contributing writer to the New York Times and Atlantic magazine, wrote an article for the latter entitled, “Why West Side Story Abandoned Its Queer Narrative,” and, in this interview recorded on March 3, 2020, discusses the merits of the van Hove production and his insights into the original narrative. Featuring the peril of picking one’s prepositional poison; how a dorky 50s musical speaks to modern concerns about racism and police violence against communities of color; the struggle for Tony’s body; the problems with “I Feel Pretty;” Jerome Robbins’ lost play; expressing Jewish identity in the 1950s through ethnic minstrelsy; how Arthur Laurents “improved” on Shakespeare in particularly troubling ways; the rightness of questioning problematic aesthetics; the casting controversy in the recent Broadway production; and, most importantly, the feeling that when you love something you want to know and discuss everything about it. (Length 34:51)
Spend an Afternoon with The Remote Shakespeare Company!
A One-Day Only Live Streaming YouTube & Facebook Event
Sunday, July 12, 2020 – Noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/8pm UK
Please join the Reduced Shakespeare Company and Reston Center Stage on Sunday, July 12, 2020 at Noon Pacific/3pm Eastern/5pm UK for a remote live-streaming afternoon of subversive and joyful entertainment: The Reduced Shakespeare Company in An Afternoon with the Remote Shakespeare Company. (CLICK THROUGH FOR LINKS WHERE TO WATCH!)
The authors of POP-UP SHAKESPEARE! Join Jennie, Reed, and Austin TODAY, June 20, 2020, as they chat about the creation of their “stunning” (Huffington Post) illustrated book Pop-Up Shakespeare. They’ll also take your questions! Find them on the RSC Facebook page here. And the RSC YouTube page here. 11am PST / 1pm CST / 2 EST / 7pm BST
We are actors and playwrights more used to making jokes to defuse tension, but these are serious times so we will will be brief: BLACK LIVES MATTER. The Reduced Shakespeare Company stands in support the communities of color who suffer disproportionate levels of violence in this country. Things must change. We must do better. ForContinue reading