RSC to Present THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (abridged) at Cincinnati Playhouse, 11/9-12/29
The Reduced Shakespeare Company (RSC) is pulling out all of the comedy weapons in its oversized arsenal to set off a laugh riot at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. The RSC, which has been rapidly reducing expectations since 1981, is premiering its ninth stage show, THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (abridged), from Nov. 9 to Dec. 29 in The Playhouse's Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre.
The show is a look at the evolution of comedy from cavemen telling "rock-rock" jokes all the way to Chris Rock and everything in-between. You can expect the entire shebang from the rule of threes to falling down, vaudeville to silent movies and commedia to stand-up in this fast-paced production.
RSC managing partners and performers ReEd Martin and Austin Tichenor team up for the eighth time to write and direct THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (abridged). They have discussed the show and its development in episodes of their weekly podcast, touching on everything from their research on humor to their writing process and why they think the art of comedy is underappreciated.
People seem to think that everyone can be funny, but that's not the case. "Comedy isn't brain surgery; you can learn brain surgery," Tichenor said. "You can't learn comedy. You've either got it or you ain't!"
THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (abridged) is unlike previous RSC shows in that the subject does not define the structure of the production. In The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), content was divided according to the Old Testament and New Testament; in The Complete History of America (abridged), it made sense to organize chronologically. But comedy has no innate organizing principle. This show gives Tichenor and Martin an enormous amount of freedom to play with the order of the sketches and create a rhythm.
This is the third time the RSC members have visited The Playhouse. Their first visit was in 2002 to workshop All the Great Books (abridged), and the second was in 2005 to perform The Complete History of America (abridged) and All the Great Books (abridged) in the Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre. The Playhouse has also produced its own versions of several RSC shows, including The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (abridged) has been rehearsing and workshopping since mid-July at the Napa Valley Playhouse in California.
In classic RSC fashion, the play will consist of three characters - the archetypes of the intellectual, the enforcer and the man-child. Martin and Tichenor will be joined onstage by Dominic Conti, who appeared in The Playhouse's productions of The Complete History of America (abridged) and All the Great Books (abridged).
Martin says, "People should come see THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (abridged) because tickets cost less than a day at the amusement park, but you'll come away with the same feeling of nausea and motion sickness. This show is a high-speed, roller-coaster type condensation of the history of comedy and is not recommended for people with heart ailments, back problems, inner ear disorders or who are humor-impaired. The Reduced Shakespeare Company cannot be held responsible for expectant mothers." The show is recommended for adult and teenage audiences.
The creative team for THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (abridged) includes costume designer Skipper Skeoch, puppet designer Barbara McFadden, lighting designer Catherine Girardi and sound designers Zach Moore and Joe Winkler. Jenifer Morrow is the production stage manager. The production is sponsored by Clark, Schaefer, Hackett & Co. The design sponsor is Stable Two Financial, LLC.
Prices for THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF COMEDY (abridged) range from $30 to $75, depending on seat location. Prices are subject to change, and patrons are encouraged to buy early for the best seats at the best prices. Teen and student tickets are $25 each. Previews are at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9; 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13. The official opening night is Thursday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m.