Summertime Shakespeare Rom-Com

“To go for it, or not to go for it?” That is the appealing question that drives For the Love of the Bard, the debut novel from author Jessica Martin, which is being published just in time to go to the top of your summer reading list, especially if you’re a Shakespeare nerd. The story involves our heroine Miranda Barnes returning to her hometown of Bard’s Rest, New Hampshire, and helping to run the theater festival run by her parents. But once there, Miranda struggles with her feelings for Adam, the hunky veterinarian who spurned her in high school but also looks great with his shirt off. Martin discusses an early pumpkin-related success led to her passion for writing; how writing gets easier only by doing it; how the book’s fantasy works on so many levels; the surprisingly tricky aspects of writing urban fantasy; how she started writing, how she came to Shakespeare, and how she came to write about Shakespeare; shout-outs to both Robertson Davies’s Tempest-Tost and the Hogarth series of Shakespearean novels; and how people who don’t like Shakespeare puns are sad and to be pitied. (Length 17:32)

Jackie & Me

Louis Bayard’s new novel Jackie & Me tells the story of the courtship of Congressman John F. Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier from the point of view of Kennedy’s oldest friend, a closeted gay man named Lem Billings. It’s a charming and moving imagining of how these events played out that takes us inside the heads and hearts of these real people, and Lou discusses how writing about recent Presidential romance is different from writing about 19th-century Presidential romances; how he embraces the multiverse (and who actually invented it); the fun of Googling while reading; a fascination with closeted love; some great jacket copy; how the types of mysteries he writes about has changed; and an irreverent yet perfect celebration of Pride Month. (Length 25:19)

Christopher Moore’s ‘Razzmatazz’

Christopher Moore’s latest comic novel Razzmatazz is a sequel to his 2018 novel Noir, a wonderfully funny and satisfying novel of reinvention that depicts San Francisco’s seedy but fabulous underbelly in post-war 1940s San Francisco. Chris discusses how Razzmatazz came out of the research he did into the history of San Francisco for Noir; how he manages to find the funny in serious subjects; the fun of jumping around in time; the importance of following Shakespeare’s example by adding comic relief to serious subjects; giving readers a win; the ah-ha! moment of realizing a secondary character in Noir can become a protagonist in Razzmatazz; how not to get bogged down in a consistent point of view; which characters got moxie and which characters don’t; the surprisingly long wait for the perfect synopsis; and the origin (and surprising new definition) of the title. (Length 25:35)

Thing Of Darkness

What if Shakespeare didn’t die on April 23, 1616, and instead sailed to the New World? Novelist Allan Batchelder (the Immortal Treachery series) dives into speculative historical fiction to investigate this very question in his new novel This Thing of Darkness, which imagines the aging playwright creating a new family of outsiders amidst tension between their fellow English settles, the suspicious Powhatans, and a creature out of legend. Allan discusses his novel’s origins; how much of the historical record fuels his imagination; how he dives into and refutes various Authorship theories; how spite is a powerful motivator; how his experience as an actor, educator, former stand-up comedian and Girl Scout (!) influences his writing; how he navigates the dangers of writing from on-high; and the fun of positing a different kind of a relationship between William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. (Length 20:13)

Austin’s Sondheim Tale

Attend the tale!! In 2016, The Sondheim Review published an article by our own Austin Tichenor that discussed the similarities between the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt musical The Fantasticks and the James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim collaborations Sunday in the Park with George and Into The Woods – and Mr. Sondheim was sorely displeased. What follows is a tale of honest curiosity; genuine repentance; possible projection; extreme umbrage; high dudgeon; missed fact-checking; lack of graciousness; sincere regret; and everlasting gratitude. CLICK THROUGH TO READ THE CORRESPONDENCE AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF. (Length 15:54)

Grownup Tiny Tim

Louis Bayard’s novel Mr. Timothy, a sort-of sequel to Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, imagines what happens to Tiny Tim as a grownup. It’s a moving literary thriller, with its own sort of redemption and set in and around the Victorian London underworld, and author Bayard discusses the book’s origins and creation; how A Christmas Carol is a surprisingly angry book; how he realized that Bob Cratchit is not the most reliable narrator; the ways in which Tiny Tim is a Rorschach test; the desperate need to find your own narrative; the struggle of being seen as a symbol, not a person; the importance of purging and exorcizing your demons; not having a good answer to the question of where this sh1t comes from; identifying at least one Dickens descendant (who you may recognize from Game of Thrones); the importance of keeping multiple plates spinning; the fun of finding the story that’s already there; and inside scoop on the upcoming film adaptation of Lou’s novel The Pale Blue Eye, starring Christian Bale. (Length 19:43)

Adam Felber: Memoirist

Improviser, novelist, TV writer, podcast host, panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, and now memoirist Adam Felber is the co-author, with Charles Band, of Confessions of a Puppetmaster: A Hollywood Memoir of Ghouls, Guts, and Gonzo Filmmaking, and he discusses the extraordinary life he’s helped document; how he makes sure his writing is entertaining; his foray into the multi-podcast-verse; how his career has progressed in ways he didn’t anticipate; the futility of thinking one can “win” showbiz; the rewards of jamming with local dads; his ongoing adventures in writing for television; and, ultimately, how a bullshitter knows a bullshitter. FEATURING: a special appearance from Mr. Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me himself, Peter Sagal! (Length 17:09)

Depicting William Shakespeare

It’s William Shakespeare’s Birthday Week! On this milestone 750th episode (!), Nicole Galland discusses the fun and intimidating challenge of making Shakespeare a character in her new novel Master of the Revels, and the chutzpah required to put words in the great poet and playwright’s mouth. Nicole shares which parts of the novel are autobiographical (and to what degree), and how even a genius like Shakespeare had gatekeepers; how Edmund Tilney (Queen Elizabeth I’s master of the revels) was both censor and showman; understanding metrics of success (and then ignoring them); how even the greatest writers — maybe especially the greatest writers — walk around in a daze, lost in thought, figuring out story elements and language choices; and how her novel is, ultimately, a celebration of the countless unsung behind-the-scenes champions of playwrights and artists. PLUS: A special appearance by Gary Andrews, author of Finding Joy, and the artist behind the extraordinary portrait above.

Supporting Independent Bookstores

Robert McDonald is the director of special events at The Book Stall in Winnetka, IL, and tell us exactly why supporting independent bookstores — and all small businesses, including theater companies! — is not only a good but an important idea. Featuring changing landscapes; romantic notions of bookstores, and the ways in which those notions are true (and not); ways to pivot; the importance of learning new skills and finding individuality; parental warnings and regrets; who the true essential workers are (aside from the obvious ones); important social niceties; who Bookshop.org is genuinely helping; and finally, how to measure convenience, and how Amazon is really not convenient and is probably doing more harm than good. (Length 21:39)

The Revels Master

Master of the Revels is Nicole Galland’s sequel to her New York Times best-selling novel The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., and picks up right where that fast-paced adventure takes off. It’s a thrilling tale of time-travel, witchcraft, and Shakespeare, and Nicole describes how the novel came to be; how she dipped into Shakespearean fiction before with her memoir I, Iago; some twisted love letters; how characters evolve from one novel to another; a climax at the very first public performance of Shakespeare’s Scottish Play; and how a years-long passion for Edmund Tilney has resulted in an extraordinary new novel. With a special appearance by (speaking of Shakespeare’s original productions) Ben Crystal. (Length 19:42)

Another Day’s Begun

Author, journalist, and theater advocate Howard Sherman talks about his new book, Another Day’s Begun: Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the 21st Century, a fascinating oral history featuring conversations with over a hundred theater artists talking about productions of this seminal work from Chicago to Miami, from off-Broadway to the UK, and from professionals to students to Kate Powers’ transformative production at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Featuring the two plays that framed World War II; how Howard’s opinion of Our Town changed during the writing of this book; how every production is telling its own story to its own community; how the play prompted dramatic new considerations about the American criminal justice system; and how the community of Grover’s Corners is always populated anew by the community of actors and audience members coming together at every performance. (Length 28:07)

Anthony Clarvoe’s ‘Living’

Anthony Clarvoe’s play The Living takes place in London during the plague year of 1665, and its echoes to our current moment are unmistakable. Anthony discusses how The Living (written in 1990) was inspired by the AIDS crisis of the 1980s; how he discovered his primary play’s sources; how he was galvanized by Daniel Defoe’s 18th-century novel A Journal of the Plague Year; moving descriptions of empty streets; the value of current events; being simultaneously both intimate and epic; loving group protagonists; celebrating the father of population statistics; sharing themes, actors, and a director with Tony Kushner’s Angels in America; how you can order both physical and digital copies; and reference to an ancient and obscure research technology known as “a card catalogue.” (Length 22:06)

Miranda In Milan

Author Katharine Duckett talks about her new novella Miranda In Milan, which explores what happens when Prospero’s daughter from The Tempest returns with her father to Milan after the events in Shakespeare’s play. Katharine talks about her influences; how she draws on not only Shakespeare but Mary Shelley; how the novel came out of her reading of the play and found its eventual form; dominant storytelling forms; investigating the unresolved tension of the play; her shared Shakespearean instincts; pronunciation controversies; and her own origins story as a writer. (Length 15:45)

Gary’s ‘Finding Joy’

Finding Joy is Gary Andrews’ book about how he dealt with the sudden and unexpected death of his wife a few years ago. Gary talks about how the book evolved from his regular #DoodleADay ritual; how the grieving process navigates a Shakespearean combination of tones. the fun he’s having producing his web series called Drawing on Shakespeare (co-hosted by Austin Tichenor); the joy of Joy’s funny walks; how we’re all experiencing different forms of grief (loss of life, loss of lifestyle, loss of careers); receiving humbling and moving testimonials; a heat-induced inability to remember one’s own CV; and ultimately how you honor the deceased by learning to laugh again. (Length 20:07)

Chris Interviews Austin

It’s our 700th episode!! And because it happily coincides with the publication of Christopher Moore’s Shakespeare For Squirrels, the New York Times best-selling author turns the tables and interviews RSC co-artistic director Austin Tichenor in an epic un-reduced unabridged almost one-hour conversation. The two Fauxspeareans celebrate the release of Chris’s book by getting lost in the weeds of craft and discussing the importance of inoculating people against Shakespeareaphobia; the value of learning to keep 5-7 year olds entertained; the difficulties of working with living playwrights; understanding who got Shakespeare’s jokes and who didn’t; writing a Hitchcock adaptation for Disney animation; the dangers of unskilled labor; learning comic timing from stand-ups and Gilbert & Sullivan; using a five-act structure; the value of memorizing Shakespeare; the art of capturing Shakespeare’s exquisite mixture of tones; the perfectly understandable struggle to explain Shakespeare’s greatness; plausible explanations for why Shakespeare left his wife his second-best bed; snappy answers to listener questions; and being members in the small club of authors rewriting Shakespeare. (Length 58:17) 

Creating Hamlet’s Adventure

Authors Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor talk about how they’ve created the definitive backstory to Shakespeare’s great tragedy in Hamlet’s Big Adventure (a prequel). Featuring homage to Tom Stoppard, excerpts from the new show’s promo video, the difficulty of hitting moving targets, how the script has evolved from its workshop with Shakespeare Napa Valley, previewing performances at Spreckels Performing Arts Center and the London in Tel Aviv Festival in Israel, fascinating by-products, eliminating framing devices, answering all the unanswered questions you’ve ever asked about the greatest play ever written, milking tragedy for laughs, seeing Shakespeare’s tragedy in a brand new way, and the value of asking important marketing questions early. (Length 23:44)

Glory Of ‘Ensemble’

Mark Larson discusses his wonderful new book Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater, a magnificent (and massive!) collection of first-person narratives from such theatre legends as Alan Arkin, Brian Dennehy, Andre DeShields, Laurie Metcalf, Mary Zimmerman, Michael Shannon, Regina Taylor, RSC alum David Razowsky, David Schwimmer, and literally hundreds more, all explaining both the history and the unique nature of Chicago theatre as they lived and created it. Featuring gratitude to those who came before us; the concept of the Chicago theatre community itself as a massive ensemble; theatre as a civic point of pride; eliminating unnecessary characters (like the author); answering the question of why the concept of ensemble developed such strong roots in this particular city; the biggest surprises from this four-and-a-half year process (and how it relates to podcasting); similarities to Studs Terkel and Tom Wolfe; tales of enormous will and enormous generosity; great white whales who got away; the benefits of being an outsider at the edge of the story; making the reader feel part of the Chicago theatre community; how individuals and institutions assist and mentor others; and ultimately the freedom — the ability, the need — to take risks. (Length 21:45)

History of Vaudeville

To paraphrase Ken Burns, the story of Vaudeville is the story of America. And as we head into the 4th of July holiday weekend, it’s the perfect time to talk with performer and author Trav S.D. about his fun and highly readable book No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous. Trav talks about how his early love of TV variety shows led to his lifelong interest and discusses how conservatory training leads to working for the Big Apple Circus; how vaudeville resembles English music hall; narrow platforms and the benefits of only having three channels; shout-outs to both Stephen Holden of the New York Times and Chuckles the Clown; the appeal of a funhouse mausoleum as a final resting place; and a warning about terrible parents who don’t introduce their children to classic comedians and performers. (Length 18:35)

Fighting Writers Block

Mya Gosling is the creator and artist behind GoodTickleBrain, the world’s greatest (and possibly only) three-panel stick-figure Shakespeare web comic. The issue of writers block is something we all deal with, and Mya shares with us how she wrestles with it, and frequently utilizes it as a theme in her comics. Featuring getting over speed bumps, the futility of changing one’s digital nibs, determining the distinctions between so-called “classic” writers block (and its related forms: “new” writers block and “cherry vanilla” writers block), the struggle of getting the marble elephant out of the marble block, making use of and exorcising your own struggle, the dilemma of having to create the thing itself before you can see what the problem is, and finally realizing the necessity of letting go of perfect. (Length 19:59)

Courting Mr. Lincoln

Louis Bayard is the author of such novels as Mr. Timothy, Roosevelt’s Beast, and The Pale Blue Eye, the former recapper of Downton Abbey for the New York Times, and the author of the New York Times obituary for William Shakespeare which appeared on the front-page of the April 23rd, 2016 edition, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. HIs new novel Courting Mr. Lincoln is funny, poignant, and fascinating comedy of manners, and Lou discusses the impulses that led to this writing the novel, influences ranging from private letters to the novels of Jane Austen and Henry James, catching Mary Todd at her best, performing rehabilitative acts, spawning (and creating) clickbait-y articles, the glories and challenges of writing on spec, the fun of digging into primary sources, discovering further eerie and ironic Booth/Lincoln interactions, and the privilege of being the novelist who steps in where the historical record falls silent. (Length 26:03)

Shakespeare Cult Blueprints

Samuel Taylor is the co-founder of the Back Room Shakespeare Project, the author of My Life with the Shakespeare Cult, and now its two-volume followup, Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult, which explains how you too can embrace and replicate the work of the BRSP in your own city or country. Sam talks about BRSP’s origins and its twin inspirations, the glories of having very little rehearsal, the difference between being actual and real, replicating late-night whiskey-soaked debates and the more sober morning-after conversations, great taglines, the difference between good chaos and unhelpful chaos, how you can order your very own copy of Blueprints for a Shakespeare Cult by going to Kickstarter.com, and how you can be part of this growing international movement. (Length 26:54)

Jasper’s ‘Early Riser’

New York Times best-selling author Jasper Fforde returns to talk about his new novel Early Riser, a comic thriller set in a world very much like ours — except here, humans hibernate. What happens during the cruel winter months is the subject of this gripping and funny book, and Jasper reveals much about the process of creating it, his ongoing fascination with all things Welsh, how he accepts narrative dares and creates Ffordian Middle Earths, why and when he has to spread textual jam, his ongoing effort to make ‘scribernation’ happen, the promise of sequels, and how creativity is both the angel and the devil sitting on a writer’s shoulders. Also featuring Jasper’s unsolicited (and totally delightful) praise for the Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show (available on Audible and iTunes)! Calling all editorial sherpas! (Length 25:25)

Episode 629. 2018’s Top Podcasts

Happy New Year! We kick off 2019 with excerpts of the Top Ten Most Downloaded Episodes of the RSC Podcast from 2018. Featuring novel excerpts from novelist Christopher Moore; testimonials regarding the efficacy of prison theatre programs; reviews of our favorite Broadway shows; the challenges of working on a new play about Mikhail Gorbachev; love for and from retired National Public Radio broadcaster Robert Siegel; actors from the Prague Shakespeare Festival; affection for Slings and Arrows; new plays inspired by Shakespeare’s plays and practices; confessions from an actual Lady Macbeth; and — finally! — an answer to the question, “What is Shakespeare’s greatest play?” Listen to the excerpts then click through to hear the entire episodes! (Length 23:03) 

Episode 619. Critic Chris Jones

Chris Jones is the chief theatre critic and Sunday cultural columnist for the Chicago Tribune, has also been recently named a reviewer for the New York Daily News, and has just written Rise Up! Broadway and American Society from Angels in America to Hamilton. Despite this hectic schedule of seeing and writing about theatre, Chris made time to chat about the role of the critic, how criticism has changed over the years and are a necessary (and valuable!) part of the ecosystem, what most great plays are about, examining not whether a play is good but what it means, an addiction to living in make-believe worlds, what happens when critics screw up, how writing about theatre is writing about life, the reality of complex relationships, the value and drawbacks of moving on to the next show, the nature of ensemble, the greatness of pre-Broadway tryouts, the democratization of critical voices, how ambition is devoutly to be wished, and what’s been the most fundamental change in criticism in the last 20-30 years. (Length 27:29)

Episode 596. Nicole Galland’s D.O.D.O.

Friend of the podcast, novelist Nicole Galland (I, Iago), has co-authored (with Neal Stephenson) a wonderful sci-fi time-travel thriller-comedy called The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., which the San Francisco Chronicle calls “a high-stakes techno-farce with brains and heart!” D.O.D.O. is now out in paperback so Nicole returns to talk about the book’s creation, the difficulties of describing your characters, how she met Neal Stephenson, the burden of having too many interests in too many places, the rarity of authorial rebranding, rewriting during the editing stage, how the authors’ writing partnership informed the relationship between the two main characters, some tantalizing clues about the sequel, and how one transitions from an historical to a sci-fi novelist. (Length 18:53)

Episode 592. Christopher Moore’s ‘Noir’

Christopher Moore, the author of such wonderful comic novels as Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal; Fool; The Serpent of Venice; The Stupidest Angel; Bloodsucking Fiends; Practical Demonkeeping; Sacre Bleu, and many others, has a new novel out called Noir, and it’s wonderfully comic, weird, and surprisingly poignant, all of which are hallmarks of a Chris Moore novel. Chris talks about this new novel’s inspirations which, it turns out, are varied and many. Featuring San Francisco history, film and literary precedent, surprisingly Shakespearean inspirations, weird connections to Roswell, loving language, shout-out to Damon Runyon, the joys of touring (and how to train for it), teasing future novels, and the Top Secret First Thing They Teach You at Famous Author School. (Length 21:18)

Episode 591. I Was Cleopatra

Dennis Abrams has written the new YA novel I Was Cleopatra, the fictional memoir of John Rice, a boy actor in the King’s Men, Shakespeare’s acting company, who played many of Shakespeare’s signature female roles, including Lady Macbeth, Cordelia, and Cleopatra. I Was Cleopatra was just published last week and its author discusses the creation of his novel, the amount of research he did, the wonder of being surprised by your main character, the supplemental reading he recommends, how we know when Shakespeare wrote his plays, the fun of deconstructing Shakespeare’s texts, and the ultimate joy of all: annoying Oxfordians! (Length 21:18)

Episode 584. The Comedy “Plantation!”

Kevin Douglas’ new play Plantation! is having its world premiere right now at the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, in a production directed by Lookingglass founding member David Schwimmer and starring eight phenomenal actresses. It’s a family comedy that deals with race and legacy and family and atonement, and in addition to its many laughs, some of which are definitely uncomfortable, its ending takes audiences absolutely by surprise and bring them to tears. Kevin discusses his creative process, explaining why he decided to create a comedy in the first place, and features the danger of clinging, the benefit of listening to actors, the value of a spoonful of sugar, and how Kevin’s next play will solve all the world’s problems. (Length 25:05)

Episode 574. The Stupidest Angel

’Tis the season! Christopher Moore, the author of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal; Fool; The Serpent of Venice; Sacre Bleu; The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove: and the upcoming Noir, talks about his “heart-warming tale of Christmas terror” The Stupidest Angel, how it came to be written, how it fits with the rest of his oeuvre, and also what’s coming next. Featuring a return to Pine Cove, the fun of playing with existing characters, purposely misleading cover art, inclement weather, writing the thing you want to read, the secret to writing moving or funny novels, and how one creates a wonderful celebration of — and antidote to — our favorite winter holiday. (Length 22:45)

Episode 569. Playwright Lauren Gunderson

Playwright Lauren Gunderson is the most produced playwright in America, and has been near the top of that list for several years now. Her play Silent Sky was recently produced at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, she’s a resident playwright at Marin Theatre Company, she’s written a Shakespeare Cycle consisting of three Read more…

Episode 567. Sir Stanley Wells

For the length and breadth of his scholarship and writing and editing and teaching, Sir Stanley Wells is our greatest living Shakespearean, and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, might well be the greatest Shakespearean of all time. Generously granting us a brief (reduced) audience, Sir Stanley discusses the many Read more…

Episode 566. Captain Picard’s Autobiography

David A. Goodman (author of Federation: The First 150 Years and The Autobiography of James T. Kirk) returns to talk about his new book The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, the definitive chronicle of Starfleet’s most inspirational captain. David discusses how his television writing helps address the challenges of writing Star Trek fiction, and gives a Read more…

Episode 560. Water Will Come

Jeff Goodell (left, shown touring Alaska with President Obama) is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and the author of “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World.” In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey (last week), Irma (this week), and José (next week), Jeff Read more…

Episode 559. Technical Theatre Textbook

As students and teachers head back to school, it’s the perfect time to talk to Tal Sanders, assistant professor of theatre at Pacific University in Oregon, who has written a new textbook about technical theatre — and it’s absolutely free! Tal discusses the strengths and limitations of the books currently Read more…

Episode 554. Curtain Call Online

”John Schwab talks about how Curtain Call the book (left) has become Curtain Call the online community, a place for theatre professionals and fans where the shows live on after they close, built for theatre people by theatre people. Featuring celebration and connection, weird love children that catch the theatre bug, Read more…

Episode 542. Writing Pop-Up Shakespeare

”Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor discuss Pop-Up Shakespeare, the beautiful illustrated book they created with artist and wily pop-up book veteran Jennie Maizels. Featuring plays and stories, poems and pictures, realistic price points, multiple incarnations, individual journeys, Shakespeare’s grave spoilers, favorite bits of text, extraordinary visuals, extreme Shakespearean vetting, accurate depictions Read more…

Episode 535. What’s A Play?

”Last summer, while performing William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we saw all sorts of theatrical events that led us to ask, “What’s a play?” Over drinks at the pub after a performance, we discussed this question as well as the fundamental qualities that make theatre unique Read more…

Episode 534. Writing About ‘Veils’

”Playwright Tom Coash has written Veils, the story of a culture clash between two Muslim women — one American, one Egyptian, both college students — and how their friendship is tested by their different expressions of faith. After six professional productions, Veils recently had its college production premiere at Pacific University in Oregon Read more…

Episode 533. Matt Croke’s Memoir

”Old friend Matthew Croke discusses his newly-published memoir Yes, And…: A Journey of Hope Through Tragedy, which begins with the discovery that his wife Lisa’s cancer has returned while she’s pregnant with their third daughter. During this time, Matt kept a journal which became an up-close and personal account of what friends and family said Read more…

Episode 529. Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation

”Author, actor, director, and producer Ben Crystal tells us about his work researching, performing, and teaching Shakespeare’s words in their original 400-year-old pronunciations. Featuring the evolution of language and pronunciation, how accent affects movement and behavior, the king of rock and roll as an Elizabethan data point, the value of cutting Read more…

Episode 513. Writing Crime Novels

”Novelist Russel McLean (right) talks about his new novel And When I Die and reveals both surprising influences and his fascination with extended families with dark secrets. Featuring Glasgow’s answer to the Corleones, shifting perspectives, early submission problems, the similarities between crime novelists and a certain criminal mastermind, and the identity of arguably the greatest Read more…

Episode 501. Thaddeus And Slocum

”Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure is a great new comedy by Kevin Douglas having its world premiere at the Lookingglass Theatre Company in an amazing production directed by J. Nicole Brooks and Krissy Vanderwarker. Kevin talks about the inspiration for this new work and reflects about a misspent youth Read more…

Episode 500! Playwright Ken Ludwig

Ken Ludwig (right) is the prolific American comic playwright responsible for such Tony- and Olivier-award winning shows as Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy For You, Moon Over Buffalo, Shakespeare In Hollywood, Baskerville, and almost two dozen more plays and musicals that have been produced in more than 30 countries in over 20 languages. For this special milestone episode, Ken talks about his work, his process, his new book How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, future projects, the importance of being in touch with Twelfth Night, the difference between farce and muscular comedy, the contrast between prose and poetry, the power of comic engines, and the all-important value of romance. (Length 31:22)

Episode 499. On Political Correctness

”James Finn Garner is the author of the classic satire Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, its various companion volumes, and the Rex Koko Private Clown series of comic mysteries, and he talks about the values of political correctness in both life and art. Featuring the evolution of inclusion, linguistic kerfuffles, the dangers of Read more…

Episode 496. Novelist Louis Bayard

”On April 23, 2016, the New York Times published an obituary of William Shakespeare as it might have appeared when he actually died in 1616. The obituary was written by novelist Louis Bayard, who we had the pleasure to meet on that very same day, and who was gracious enough to Read more…

Episode 493. Good Tickle Brain

”Mya Gosling is the creator and artist of Good Tickle Brain, the definitive three-panel stick-figure Shakespearean web comic, and we got to chat about Shakespeare and comics (and musicals and Gilbert & Sullivan) when our paths recently crossed at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Mya explains her comic’s origin story and discusses early Read more…

Episode 492. The Shakespeare Guardian

”Everybody loves a detective story, and a detective story involving a genuine Shakespeare artifact is irresistible. Former DC cop and NEA fellow Quintin Peterson is a crime novelist and stage door guard at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. His novel Guarding Shakespeare imagines a Shakespearean heist set against this Read more…

Episode 490. Shakespeare And Burlesque

”Richard Schoch is Professor of Drama at Queen’s University in Belfast, and the author of “Not Shakespeare: Bardolatry and Burlesque in the 19th Century.” Richard was working at the Folger Shakespeare Library during our first week there and wrote a blog post about the history of Shakespearean parody. Spoiler alert: The Reduced Shakespeare Read more…

Episode 485. The ‘Curtain Call’

”Long-time RSC actor John Schwab and photographer Matt Humphrey have created the beautiful new book Curtain Call, an invaluable collection of photographs and interviews celebrating the amazing variety of London theatre in the year 2015. The book is both a handsome collectible and an invaluable piece of theatre journalism, and John talks about Read more…

Episode 473. Meet Aaron Posner

”Playwright and director Aaron Posner (Stupid F*cking Bird) talks about his celebrated production of The Tempest at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, his upcoming production of Midsummer at the Folger Theatre, and his ongoing exploration of the classics using both reverence and irreverence. Featuring the importance of populism, the fun of making plays you want to see, the gift Read more…

Episode 464. Writing “Almost, Maine”

Playwright John Cariani (who’s also an actor from the original Broadway casts of the musicals The Band’s Visit and Something Rotten!) talks about writing his play Almost, Maine, one of the most popular and widely produced scripts in the U.S. Among many surprises, John reveals love stories for character actors, F. Read more…

Episode 458. Captain Kirk’s Autobiography

”Writer David Goodman (Enterprise, Futurama, Family Guy, Federation: The First 150 Years) discusses his fantastic new book The Autobiography of James T. Kirk, which he “edited” from the actual papers of Starfleet’s greatest captain. Featuring much dot-connecting and blank-filling, writing in voices, carrying on traditions and storylines established fifty years ago, woefully Read more…

Episode 444. The New Pages

”Authors Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor talk about the development process of their ninth stage collaboration William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged), and reveal the joys and anguish of the writing process, shuffling of ideas and scenes, the five stages of writing, the pleasures of research, the discoveries of rehearsal, Read more…

Episode 437. Back Room Shakespeare

”Chicago actor and now author Samuel Taylor chronicles the origins of the Back Room Shakespeare Project in his new book My Life With The Shakespeare Cult. Part cri de coeur, part call to arms, Sam’s book is a brief and inspiring manifesto about restoring life to Shakespeare performance. Featuring the Read more…

Episode 435. Nerd Noir Novelist

”Ian Tregillis has quite possibly created a new genre with his recent novel Something More Than Night, a murder mystery detective novel with an angel protagonist set in Thomas Aquinas’ vision of Heaven. Ian talks about his supportive writers group (featuring a promising newcomer named George R. R. Martin), the struggle of describing Read more…