Everything Is Theatre

Richard ET White is the former artistic director of the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, Wisdom Bridge Theatre in Chicago, and the outgoing and longest-serving chair of the Cornish College of the Arts Theatre Department in that institution’s 103-year-old history. Richard was also an acting and directing teacher at the University of California Drama Department where many RSC members got their early training. RSC co-artistic director Austin Tichenor talks with his former professor about how theatre can be anything and everywhere; how comedy about serious issues from the San Francisco Mime Troupe became life-changing; the influence of Richard Schechner and the Performance Group; sneering at prosceniums; what people forget about Brecht; the value of immaturity; the immediacy of improv; the storytelling and performance art of stand-up; being both expansive and inclusive; the value of sharing your lived experience; and how you want theatre to have the visceral impact of a great rock concert. (Length 24:06)

Appreciating Viola Spolin

Aretha Sills discusses her grandmother, the legendary Viola Spolin, who invented an entire discipline and whose book Improvisation for the Theater is a fundamental text for generations of theatre artists. Viola’s son (and Aretha’s father) Paul Sills took Viola’s teachings “to the world,” where they became the foundation for more than sixty years of American acting and comedy. Aretha discusses Viola’s early training with Neva Boyd at the Jane Addams Hull-House in Chicago and with the Group Theatre in New York; early exposure to opera from her policeman father; how Viola’s work inspired the Playwright’s Theatre, the Compass Players, and Second City; the value of Spolin’s theatre games in de-colonizing authoritarian teaching methods; and the importance of understanding and honoring the origins of this work (play). (Length 22:47) (Photo courtesy of the Estate of Viola Spolin, www.violaspolin.org.)

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)

Theatre Communications Group

Theatre Communications Group exists to strengthen, nurture, and promote professional theatre in the U.S. and globally and Kathryn M. Lipuma is the Chair of TCG’s Board of Directors. A past executive director of New York’s Tony-winning Signature Theatre and current executive director of Chicago’s Writers Theatre, Kate talks about her work for TCG, how she ended up in Chicago theatre, how the lessons learned locally can be shared nationally (and vice versa), gives a shoutout to Michael Halberstam’s taste in kicks, reveals her Chicago roots, discusses the importance of the shared experience and establishing communities, how theatre connections can be made at sporting events, the rise of American Theatre (our industry’s journal of record) and its companion website, how theatre contributes to the country’s culture, and what theatre does as it approaches the crossroads of people’s shifting relationships with the arts. (Length 23:50)

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 510. Theatre-Trained Journalist

”John Horn (left) is the host of KPCC’s The Frame, a daily chronicle of creativity in film, TV, music, arts and entertainment. Trained in the theatre at the University of California at Berkeley, John was a showbiz journalist for the Associated Press, Premiere magazine, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times on his way to becoming a Read more…

Episode 450. Oregon Shakespeare Festival

”The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon celebrates its 80th anniversary this season and Cynthia Rider is its new(ish) Executive Director. Cynthia took time out from her incredibly hectic summer schedule to talk about both the history and the future of OSF; the futility of grand plans; the luxury (and Read more…

Episode 402. The Pleasance Courtyard

”LIVE! (ish) from the Pleasance Courtyard, the throbbing hub of theatrical activity here at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, comes this collection of pitches from people selling some of the more than three thousand shows being performed this year. Featuring our reduced tribute to Robin Williams, rules for doing sh*t-faced Shakespeare, denizens Read more…

Episode 328. Our Reduced Workshops

”In addition to performing our shows around the world, we teach theatre workshops in many of the various communities where we appear. This week we talk about the various workshops we offer and discuss the importance of listening, how you can book a Reduced Shakespeare Company Workshop in your community, Read more…

Episode 237. San Jose Repertory

”Now in his third year as Artistic Director of San Jose Repertory Theatre, Rick Lombardo reflects on the institution he inherited, his evolution from grad student to free lancer to artistic director, and the cultural differences between New England and Silicon Valley. Featuring the cutoff point for being a wunderkind and Read more…

Episode 198. Merrimack Repertory Theatre

”“Small but excellent” is the rallying cry for Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA where we recently premiered The Complete World of Sports (abridged). Artistic Director Charles Towers and Executive Director Tom Parrish talk about the creative and business decisions that led MRT to retire significant debt, flourish creatively, and Read more…

Episode 197. ‘Sports’ Opening Night

”The Complete World of Sports (abridged) had its official RSC premiere this weekend at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA, so we kept the microphone on backstage, during our walk home, and at the cast party. Featuring tongue fumbles, theatrical tricks, mild nausea, and expert testimony as to how stage Read more…

Episode 105. Matt Rippy: Crimestopper

”RSC Webmaster/Actor/Director by day, crime-fighter by….alternate days? Matt Rippy tells a tale of troubled youth and the knightly warrior who changes the course of two young lives. (Unless, he doesn’t.) Featuring the power of an active citizenry, the transformative nature of theatre, very dramatic music, and a special appearance by Read more…