Episode 581. Reagan And Gorbachev

The Goodman Theatre in Chicago’s latest production, a world premiere by Rogelio Martinez called Blind Date, chronicles the courtship and ultimate conference in Geneva between American president Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. Chicago actors Rob Riley and William Dick play Reagan and Gorbachev and talk about the challenges and rewards of playing two such seemingly familiar historical figures. Featuring the wonders of YouTube, the dangers of sketch comedy, massive and mostly-read biographies, reboot opportunities, gifts for character actors, the challenges of rewrites, and best-selling Broadway Play Publishing playwrights. (Length 24:08)

Episode 579. Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries

Anne Morgan is the literary manager of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA, which has created the “Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries” project, a ground-breaking undertaking to discover, develop, and produce a new canon of 38 plays inspired by and in conversation with Shakespeare’s originals. Anne sat down at this year’s Shakespeare Theatre Association conference, hosted by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, to discuss the origins of this very exciting project, its ultimate scope, and what’s involved with administrating this wide-ranging, blind-reading, open-application process. Featuring outstanding opportunities for emerging or unrepresented playwrights, the power of embracing Shakespeare’s original staging practices, the importance and value of learning from your actors and learning from your audience, the removal of unconscious bias, and the important difference between dramaturgs and dramaturds. Recorded LIVE at the 2018 Shakespeare Theatre Association Conference. (Length 17:45)

Episode 573. Heminges & Condell

In her new play The Book of Will, Lauren Gunderson imagines what Shakespeare’s fellow actors John Heminges and Henry Condell had to accomplish to publish the First Folio, the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays. In the Northlight Theatre production in Chicago, actors Jim Ortlieb (a veteran of Broadway, TV, and film) and Gregory Linington (whose stage, film, and TV credits across the country include 12 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland) play John and Henry and share insights into what it’s like to create these roles. Featuring research, textual clues, King’s Men actors defined by NBA analogies, the difference between real life and art, the anticipation of 19th century actor/managers, the trick of getting across information, and the absolute fundamental Disney-related difference between these two literary saviors. (Length 22:27) (Jim Ortlieb as John Heminges (left), Dana Black as his daughter Alice, and Gregory Linington as Henry Condell in the Northlight Theatre production of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will. Photo by Liz Lauren.)

Episode 570. Book Of Will

Director Jessica Thebus (Richard III, In The Garden: A Darwinian Love Story) returns to the podcast to talk about the midwest premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, which she’s directing at the Northlight Theatre in Chicago. Jessica talks about her approach to this play, and from where she draws her certainties and insights. Featuring surprisingly little historical fudging, labors of love, illuminating paths, avoiding traps, staying ahead of the audience, and celebrating the creation of a thing that might easily never have happened. (Length 17:51) (l-r, Richard Burbage (Austin Tichenor), Alice Heminges (Dana Black), John Heminges (Jim Ortlieb), and Henry Condell (Gregory Linington) from the Northlight Theatre production of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will. Photo by Liz Lauren.)

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 562. Reframing The Shrew

Ron West, whose adaptation of The Comedy of Errors won a Jeff Award for best adaptation when Chicago Shakespeare Theatre produced it in 2008, is back at Chicago Shakes with a new framing device for Barbara Gaines’ all female production of The Taming of the Shrew. Ron discusses what goes into Read more…

Episode 556. Abridged Too Far?

”We premiered our one-hour version of William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last week, and RSC UK cast members Joseph Maudsley, Matt Pearson, and James Percy discuss the ups and downs of further reduction. Featuring problems with pacing, riding over slumps, totally different experiences, 30-year anniversaries, Read more…

Episode 555. The Improv Nerd

”Jimmy Carrane is an improviser, teacher, and creator/host of “The Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane” Podcast, and last week he sat down with me on a beautiful Chicago morning to chat with me about his improv and performing philosophies. Featuring great teaching tools, the value of details and specificity vs. frantic Read more…

Episode 543. Editing Pop-Up Shakespeare

”Walker Books editor Daisy Jellicoe discusses the joy of editing children’s books generally, pop-up books particularly, and Pop-Up Shakespeare especially. Featuring the marriage of Jennie Maizels‘ images and our text, similarities between editing children’s books and reducing, the importance of reader engagement, keeping many fingers in different pies, the pleasure and privilege of reinventing Shakespeare, 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 539. Encouraging Young Writers

”It’s national Encourage a Young Writer Day! To honor this auspicious occasion, we discuss the old adage “write what you know” with playwright Tom Coash, who shares his experiences struggling with narrative and the importance of procrastination research, the value of networks, the priority of open questions, the need for communication, and Read more…

Episode 536. Discussing ‘Much Ado’

”Austin Tichenor‘s production of Much Ado About Nothing closed its four-performance run last weekend at Pacific University in Oregon, and on opening night, department chair Ellen Margolis conducted a Q&A where they talked about conceptual and dramaturgical choices, the importance of authorial intent, the value of children’s theatre, a weirdly progressive alternative 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 531. Thinking Shakespeare’s Text

”Scott Parkinson is one of the truly great American interpreters of Shakespeare, and certainly the only one we know personally who will talk to us. While chatting about his recent Writers Theatre production of Julius Caesar (which he adapted, co-directed, and appeared in as Cassius), Scott discussed the method he uses 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 516. The Q Brothers

”The Q Brothers are the creators of Othello: The Remix, now in previews off-Broadway, as well as their previous off-Broadway hit The Bombitty of Errors and other hip-hop interpretations of Shakespeare. GQ and JQ chat about their process of reinvention, and reflect on inventing words, teaching and learning experiences, becoming an industry, embarrassments of riches, Read more…

Episode 515. Baby Wants Candy

”Baby Wants Candy creates a completely improvised musical at every performance based on a single audience suggestion, and Tim Sniffen is one of its featured players in addition to being a playwright and parodist. Tim talks about what goes into creating musicals on the spot, his latest Wagner parody, whether improv Read more…

Episode 514. Streamlining ‘Julius Caesar’

Chicago’s Writers Theatre opened its first full season in its award-winning new performance space with a glorious and timely production of Julius Caesar. Actor, co-director, and adaptor Scott Parkinson (left) discusses the process of streamlining this classic by focusing on its dual protagonists, finding echoes in the current political moment, augmenting the language, losing extraneous characters, 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 456. Broadway’s “Something Rotten!”

Three of the stars and original cast members of the hit Broadway Shakespeare musical Something Rotten! — Heidi Blickenstaff, John Cariani, and Brad Oscar (pictured) — talk about the process of creating an original musical, from casting through rehearsals to last-minute changes right up to opening night. Featuring excerpts from the score, the joys 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 393. Multi-Tasking Actors

Ah, the fun and sometimes the necessity of doing it all! Andy White, artistic director of Lookingglass Theatre Company, and Cindy Gold, Professor of Theatre and Head of Acting at Northwestern University, are both successful and award-winning actors who talk about the other jobs they’ve held and continue to hold. Read more…

Episode 363. ‘Comedy’ Opening Weekend

”Our ninth stage show The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) opened last Thursday night (November 14, 2013) at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and we kept the microphone going before and after the performance. Featuring wild predictions, backstage interviews, post-show impressions, satisfied customers, audience participation, the differences between US and Read more…

Episode 339. Joss Whedon Shakespeare

”Reed Diamond plays Don Pedro in Joss Whedon‘s film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing and talks not only about the process of acting in and shooting one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays, but the specific pleasures Shakespeare affords. Featuring a reduced schedule, how he became part of the Whedonverse, Read more…

Episode 322. Auditioning in London

”We saw some great actors last week when we conducted auditions for the upcoming UK tour of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) . Austin Tichenor, Matt Rippy, and Davey Naylor discuss the process by which we whittled over 1200 applicants down to almost 40 auditioners to 18 callbacks. Read more…

Episode 201. Endings Are Important

”We’ve discussed our writing process before, but this week we talk about designing effective openings and killer endings. Featuring stumbles and fumbles, happy accidents, show construction, meticulous planning, adherence to form, template deviation, and impertinent comparisons to both Shakespeare and the Beatles. (MP3. Length 22:15)

Episode 175. Playwrights Who Direct

”Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin are writing The Complete World of Sports (abridged), which the Reduced Shakespeare Company will premiere in September 2010. But they’re in rehearsals now, directing a non-RSC production in California. They talk about this unusual process, and about the wisdom of playwrights directing their own work. Read more…

Episode 165. We Reduce ‘LOST’

”A post-performance run-down of how the filming of Lost Reduced went and how it came to be. Featuring spoilers about special effects, the various entendres of “brands in hands“, special appearances from both Adrian Scarborough from Gavin and Stacey and Sophie Jones from Sky-TV, and how a hot and bright reduced Read more…

Episode 134. Our Writing Process

”Be a fly on the wall (albeit one with a very bad online connection) as Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor discuss how the writing of The Complete World of Sports (abridged) is going. Featuring insights on our writing rituals, what our preliminary lists consist of, excerpts from The Complete Millennium Read more…

Episode 95. Reduced Rehearsal Process

”Every RSC actor has to do it: learn our shows in a ridiculously short amount of time AND submit to a podcast interview. Jeff Marlow tours America this fall in The Complete History of America (abridged) and talks about the differences between our rehearsal process and that of a REAL Read more…

Episode 83. Notes For Dustin

”Poor Dustin Sullivan. After performing All The Great Books (abridged) in St. Louis, Ireland, and Ithaca (New York), he’s now performing in San Jose, California with the script’s two authors as his co-stars. Featuring insight into a reduced rehearsal process, the difference between acting and vaudeville, Dustin’s role-winning joke, and Read more…