Complete Timeline

  • 1981: The Reduced Shakespeare Company begins as a pass-the hat act performing a twenty-minute version of Hamlet at Renaissance Faires outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco where the entertainment slots allow a maximum performance time of thirty minutes. The company develops a fast, funny, and physical performance style to keep their audiences from walking away. It works. Among those in the cast that first summer are the three performers who would come to be considered the “original” RSC – Daniel Singer (whose idea it all was in the first place), Jess Borgeson and Adam Long. Until 1987, the RSC performs only on weekends in the summer months at these faires.
  • 1983: The RSC adds a short Romeo & Juliet to its repertoire at the Renaissance Faires.
  • 1987: The first, one-hour version of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)(written by Borgeson, Long & Singer) premieres and the company performs it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The company thinks that this will be its swan song. Instead, interest in the RSC begins to snowball.
  • 1988: The RSC begins to tour the United States. In order to make Shakespeare a full-length show, audience participation is added in the second act.
  • 1989: The company tours the U.S. and performs at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival and in Melbourne, Australia. Singer leaves the company to become an Imagineer for Disney and is replaced by Reed Martin, a UC Berkeley classmate of Borgeson and former Ringling Brothers clown. Martin contributes additional material to Shakespeare.
  • 1991: With a six-week sold out season at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal, the RSC becomes a full-time gig and the boys finally quit their day jobs. They now make a living with the RSC, but just barely. It only took ten years. The company’s first British tour, and its first London season – a December run at the Lillian Bayliss Theatre.
  • 1991: The company tours to Tokyo and Ireland, as well as Britain and the U.S. They make their New York debut as part of the New York International Festival of the Arts.
  • 1992: The RSC tours the U.S. and Singapore, as well as Perth and Adelaide, Australia. In March, the boys open their second season in London, this time at the Arts Theatre. The show runs eleven months. The boys provide voices for Steven Spielberg’s animated film Balto. Borgeson leaves the company and is replaced by Austin Tichenor, another UC Berkeley grad and classmate of Borgeson and Martin. Because he wears glasses, critics dub Tichenor “the smart one.”
  • 1993: The RSC premieres its second stage show – The Complete History of America (abridged) (written by Long, Martin, and Tichenor). They perform America at Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival, the American Repertory Theatre, and the Serious Fun Festival at Lincoln Center in New York. Tours of the U.S., Britain, and Israel. The boys (Long/Martin/Tichenor) write and perform The Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show – a six-part radio series for the BBC World Service. Nick Graham writes the music. It’s released as a double-cassette (remember those?!) on the Laughing Stock label.
  • 1994: The company makes its first appearance at the Folger Theatre (part of the Folger Shakespeare Library), then performs for eight sold-out weeks at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and also tours the U.S., Great Britain, and New Zealand. The boys become regular contributors to the National Public Radio show All Things Considered, comically reducing news events. Long cuts back on touring to stay in Britain with his English wife and English baby. Matt Croke – a former Ringling Brothers clownmate of Martin – steps into Long’s role. The RSC writes and performs its first TV show – The Ring Reduced (Long/Martin/Tichenor) – a thirty-minute condensation of Wagner’s Ring Cycle for Britain’s Channel Four.
  • 1995: The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) (written by Long, Martin, and Tichenor, with additional material by Croke) premieres in July at the Kennedy Center. Bible and America run at the Kennedy Center for twelve sold-out weeks. Long/Martin/Tichenor write – and with Croke perform – The Reduced Shakespeare Company Christmas, which is broadcast nationally in the U.S. on Public Radio International. It is also released as a CD. The company breaks box office records at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre with a six-week run of America and Bible in repertory. Long heads up a second company, specifically to perform in Great Britain. The new RSC U.K. undertakes a year-long British tour of Shakespeare and America.
  • 1996: Bible is nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. The RSC tours the U.S., Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The RSC performs Bible in Jerusalem. Bible has its U.K. premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In March the RSC U.K. opens at the Criterion Theatre in London performing Shakespeare and America in rep. The script of Shakespeare is published in the U.S. by Applause Books. It is performed by countless professional and amateur companies all over the world, and translated into sixteen languages.
  • 1997: Shakespeare is nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy – seventeen years after its inception. Bible opens for a limited run in London at the Gielgud Theatre in August. The RSC has three shows running in the West End at the same time – only one fewer than Andrew Lloyd Webber. An audio adaptation of Bible is released on cassette on the Magmaster label. The RSC tours the U.S., including two-weeks at the Long Wharf Theatre. The company performs in Japan for the third time.
  • 1998: The Reduced Shakespeare Company premieres its newest stage showThe Complete Millennium Musical (abridged). It’s written by Martin and Tichenor, who reunite with composer Graham. Croke takes a break from touring and is replaced by Dee Ryan, a Second City alumna and theatre colleague of Tichenor’s. She contributes additional material to Millennium. The RSC finally has a “female” point of view. Unfortunately, it’s Reed’s. Recordings of Radio Show and Christmas are released in the U.S. on the Audio Editions label. Bible is translated into German, Spanish, and Portugese.
  • 1999: The company tours Millennium to the Kennedy Center for seven weeks and breaks box office records in their six-week run at Seattle Repertory Theatre. A second cast tours Millennium in the UK for twelve months, while yet a third cast tours Australia. The original cast album of Millennium is released on the Laughing Stock label. The America script is published by Broadway Play Publishing.
  • 2000: The Greatest Story Ever Sold, written by Martin and Tichenor, is published by Westminster/John Knox Press. Millennium tours to Israel. The Bible script is published by Broadway Play Publishing. Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor reunite with Adam Long to film Shakespeare for television; RSC founder Daniel Singer makes an anonymous cameo as the Ego.
  • 2001: PBS airs the TV special Reduced Shakespeare. The company has a four-week sold-out run at the Kennedy Center, where Matt Rippy is nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Performance In A Touring Show. Austin and Reed don’t speak to him for years. The RSC also returns to the Pittsburgh Public Theater for the third time to perform Shakespeare & Bible. The boys perform America at Invisible Theater Company in Tucson, AZ and tour Ireland for twelve weeks with Bible. Bible also begins a year-long tour of Britain.
  • 2002: The RSC premieres its fifth stage show – All the Great Books (abridged) (written by Martin and Tichenor, with additional material by original cast members Croke and Michael Faulkner). The show is developed at bang.studios in Los Angeles, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Bible becomes the best selling show in the history of Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Millennium is published under the new title Western Civilization! The Complete Musical (abridged). The boys close out the year performing Books and Bible at Pittsburgh Public Theater.
  • 2003: Bible joins Shakespeare and America in rotating repertory at the Criterion Theatre in London. Once again, the RSC has more shows running in London than Andrew Lloyd Webber. The company takes Books to the Kennedy Center, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, ACT in Seattle, San Diego Repertory Theatre, and The Invisible Theatre in Tucson. Books also begins a year-long tour of Great Britain. Bible is released on CD. The Reduced Shakespeare PBS special is released on DVD. For the fifth time, the company closes out the year at Pittsburgh Public Theater, this time performing America and Bible.
  • 2004: The boys open the year with a successful run of Books at the Cowell Theatre in San Francisco. The Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show is released on CD in the U.S. by Uproar Records and in the UK by Laughing Stock. The RSC closes out the year taking America to Lowell, MA and breaks its own record – America and Bible are the two best-selling shows in Merrimack Rep history.
  • 2005: RSC actor Jerry Kernion produces and directs the filmed DVD version of The Complete History of America (abridged), starring Croke, Martin, and Tichenor. The company performs at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany NY, the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and tours the U.S., Holland and Barbados. A brand new show, Completely Hollywood (abridged) (written by Martin and Tichenor, additional material by original cast member Dominic Conti), begins a year-long tour of Great Britain at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
  • 2006: Reduced Shakespeare: The Complete Guide For The Attention-Impaired (abridged) is published by Hyperion. The RSC spends the month of July performing Books and America at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The company once again tours the U.S., U.K. and Holland. Completely Hollywood (abridged) has its official American premiere at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. The company once again has three companies on the road as it tours the U.S., U.K. and Holland and also has extended runs at Buffalo Studio Arena Theatre and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. In December, the RSC also premieres The Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast, a free weekly audio blog of all things reduced, featuring backstage conversations with the casts and creators of RSC shows, as well as special appearances by guest authors, NPR personalities, comic actors, and actual celebrities like Brian Dennehy, Scott Bakula, David Koechner, Anne Heche, Emmy-winning actor Eric Stonestreet, United States Senator Cory Booker, and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.
  • 2007: Hollywood and Bible run in rotating repertory for extended runs in both Chicago and San Francisco. Bible also has a successful month-long run at San Diego Repertory Theatre. Books and America run for a month at Center Repertory Theatre in California. Books tours Ireland for the first time. The RSC MySpace page in unveiled. America and Bible are published in the UK by Josef Weinberger. The company returns to Barbados, this time with Hollywood – which also tours all across the USA. The RSC Podcast is nominated for two People’s Choice Podcast Awards for Best Production and Cultural/Arts. The guys film two television episodes for a TBS pilot called The Week Reduced (written by and starring Martin and Tichenor).
  • 2008: Hollywood tours to Belgium and Holland. The boys return to the Blumenthal Center in Charlotte, NC for the third straight year. The RSC performs America and Bible at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC for five weeks. While in Washington, the RSC produces a segment for National Public Radio and hijacks the NPR “In Character” blogAll The Great Books (abridged) is published in the UK by Josef Weinberger. Books runs for a month at San Jose Repertory Theatre in California. The RSC returns to the UK with a national tour of Bible. The RSC Podcast is once again nominated for a Best Cultural/Arts People’s Choice Podcast Award…and once again loses to NPR’s This American Life. To coincide with the Presidential election, the company tours a “Special Election Edition” of America across the USA, and closes out the year with a critically-acclaimed six week run of Shakespeare at the Arsht Center for the Arts in Miami.
  • 2009: In January the company performs at the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference in Washington DC. The boys conclude their 23 week UK tour of Bible. The RSC gets interactive on Facebook and Twitter, and within a week of their first Tweet, Austin talks with Scott Simon about Twitter on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition. The RSC also creates its first video podcasts and YouTube Channel. They return to San Diego Rep for the third time, this time with America. Austin and Reed write a new TV pilot for TBS. The company tours Shakespeare to Singapore (for the third time) and Hong Kong (for the second time), as well as touring it across the USA. The RSC Podcast is once again nominated for the People’s Choice Cultural/Arts Podcast Award, and in December begins its fourth year of audio reduction.
  • 2010: The company flies to London to film Lost Reduced (the first five seasons in 10 minutes, written by Martin and Tichenor) for Sky-TV and makes its off-Broadway debut at the New Victory Theatre in New York City. The RSC wins a Shorty Award (Cultural Institution category) which honors “the best producers of short real-time content” on Twitter. The company returns to San Diego Rep in June and for the seventh time to the Kennedy Center, this time with Hollywood. In September, the RSC premieres its seventh stage show, The Complete World of Sports (abridged) (written by Martin and Tichenor) at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre.
  • 2011: The RSC begins its 30th Anniversary year with performances of Sports at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, followed by a six-week tour of Belgium and Holland with Shakespeare. In May, the boys take Hollywood on a national tour of New Zealand, followed by a week of Sports at San Jose Repertory Theatre. The company spends its eighth summer at the Kennedy Center, performing Hollywood and Sports for five weeks, and on August 8, celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the RSC’s first performance via a live webcast with founding members Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield. In the fall, the RSC returns to NYC’s New Victory Theater for a three week run of Sports, and in November returns to the Merrimack Repertory Theatre to premiere its eighth stage production: The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged), which sets several box office records (Largest Pre-Sale, Largest Single-Day Sale) and becomes both the Best-Selling Holiday Show and the #3 All-Time Best-Selling Show in the history of Merrimack Rep.
  • 2012: After a spring spent touring Sports around the US (including the RSC’s Oklahoma debut at Oklahoma City Rep, performing both Hollywood and Sports), the RSC returns to the UK for its first tour there since 2008. After opening at the York Theatre Royal, they tour Sports around the UK for five weeks, then settle into a six-week run at the Arts Theatre, coinciding with the 2012 London Olympics. They return to the US for an Autumn tour of the “Special Election Edition” of America, then close out the year with performances of Christmas in Reston VA, Charlotte NC, St. Louis, Fort Worth, Anchorage AK and a month-long run at San Diego Repertory Theatre.
  • 2013: The RSC begins the year by returning to the Bermuda Festival, this time with Sports to packed houses and rave reviews. April sees the beginning of an eight month UK tour of the Shakespeare show. Sports is published by Broadway Play Publishing. The London Telegraph honors the RSC Podcast as its Podcast of the Week (calling it “a bright, breezy, and entertaining affair”) and the boys record a Reduced 4-Minute Workout Podcast for the New York Times. The second half of the year sees the company performing six different shows in five countries on four continents. In July the UK tour settles into a four week run (that gets extended to five) in the Leicester Square Theatre in London, and in October Shakespeare tours to Singapore and Hong Kong. Over the course of the year the company tours the US with Sports, America, Books and Christmas and in November premieres its ninth stage show The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.
  • 2014: The year begins on a controversial note when the Council in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland decides to cancel the first performances of our UK Bible tour. After an international outcry (dubbed “The Kerfuffles” and recounted by theatrical blogger Howard Sherman here), including votes of support from (among others) Amnesty International, Richard Dawkins, Tim MInchin, and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the board reverses its decision. The two Newtownabbey performances sell out within hours and the resulting press leads to one of the most successful tours in RSC history, with two weeks of additional Ireland performances added to the end of the tour. In March the RSC plays the Laguna Playhouse for the first time with a month-long run of Books. In honor of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday in April, the guys set a Guinness World Record for Highest Theatre Performance by performing Shakespeare on board an EasyJet flight from London to Verona in honor of the attempt to make Shakespeare’s birthday April 23rd a UK national holiday. Representatives from Guinness were actually on board to verify both the performance and the altitude (37,000 feet). Also in April, Broadway World ranks the RSC Podcast #9 on its list of Top 20 Podcasts For Theatre Fans. In April and May the boys perform Comedy at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, and they return there in June to perform the specially commissioned “Complete History of MRT in Ten Minutes (abridged)”. In August, they return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to perform the European premiere of Comedy. In September, Reston Center Stage in Virginia hosts “The Complete Works of the Reduced Shakespeare Company (abridged) Extravaganza”: seven of the RSC’s nine stage shows performed over two weeks. October sees the RSC travel to Wuzhen, China to perform Shakespeare, and they finish the year by returning to Marin Theatre Company with a month-long run of Comedy.
  • 2015: After such a hectic and acclaimed 2014, the RSC is relieved to embark on an acclaimed (and non-controversial) six-month UK tour of Comedy as well as tours across the USA of both Comedy and Christmas.
  • 2016: In addition to being the 400th Anniversary William Shakespeare’s death, 2016 is also the 35th anniversary of the Reduced Shakespeare Company’s very first performances. To commemorate both these occasions, the RSC returns to its Shakespearean roots by unveiling its tenth stage show – William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) – at the prestigious Folger Theatre at the Folger Shakespeare Library in April in Washington DC.
  • 2017: 2017 kicked off with a command performance of Long Lost Shakes at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in Baltimore, MD as part of the Shakespeare Theatre Association annual conference, followed by a 50-city UK tour that lasted until May. That tour culminated in a return to the Edinburgh Fringe, this time at the Gilded Balloon, for a special month-long run of a one-hour version of Long Lost Shakes. The fall saw us return to Hong Kong and Singapore with performances of Shakespeare, and more US dates for Long Lost Shakes and what has become our annual holiday tradition, Christmas. But the big news of 2017 was the international publication in September of Pop-Up Shakespeare, a gloriously illustrated (by Jennie Maizels) book for children-of-all-ages that includes all of Shakespeare’s life, his plays, and his poetry. After an interview with Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition, the book temporarily sells out and is rushed into a quick second printing. It’s on sale worldwide.
  • 2018: The tour of Long Lost Shakes continued in the first half of 2018, with welcome returns to off-Broadway (the New Victory Theatre in New York City) and the Pittsburgh Public Theatre in June. Long Lost Shakes is also published in the UK by Josef Weinberger and in the US by Broadway Play Publishing, and Tichenor begins blogging monthly for the Folger Shakespeare Library.
  • 2019: The RSC begins the new year by making its debut at Pennsylvania’s famed Bucks County Playhouse, then spends the spring workshopping its 11th stage show Hamlet’s Big Adventure! (a prequel). HBA! subsequently has its international premiere at the London in Tel Aviv Festival, the company’s first return to Israel in 19 years. Fittingly, that same week, the RSC Podcast celebrates its 13th birthday, finally becoming a man. Martin updates and expands Books for a larger college cast. Shakespeare continues to tour, and the company closes out the year giving four performances of Christmas in Phoenix, courtesy of Southwest Shakespeare Company.
  • 2020: The first half of the year sees Comedy return to the repertoire, while Martin updates and expands Hollywood for a larger college cast and Tichenor begins his third year of contributing monthly essays to the Folger Shakespeare Library. The global COVID-19 pandemic shuts down theaters around the world for at least four months, forcing RSC performances to be postponed and rescheduled, and the RSC’s debut at the Hartford Stage Company (with Comedy) pushed until October. The fall also sees the return of America, newly updated and re-branded for Election 2020.

To be continued…

The Complete History of the RSC (abridged)

Our First Live Webcast!