The Reduced Shakespeare Company Comes The The Broad Stage
In this "tale told by idiots," The Reduced Shakespeare Company weaves all of The Bard's famous characters, greatest lines and magnificent speeches into a brand new Shakespearean smorgasbord. William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged) is a comic misadventure that will feel strangely familiar yet excitingly new, presented by The Broad Stage for two performances only April 5 and 6 at 7:30pm.
The year 2016 marked the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare's passing (and the last American Presidential election), and while performing in England that summer, the Reduced Shakespeare Company uncovered a manuscript that turned out to be the literary Holy Grail: William Shakespeare's long lost first play!
Discovered in a treasure-filled parking lot in Leicester, England (next to a pile of bones that didn't look that important), an ancient manuscript proves to be the long lost first play written by none other than seventeen-year-old William Shakespeare from Stratford.
No, really. They found this centuries-old manuscript in a parking lot in Leicester, England. They are totally not making this up.
Every famous character and Shakespearean plot device come together in a single story so comically outrageous (no fact checking required) it's no wonder the Bard of Avon hid it away. Historical evidence suggests that this manuscript, Shakespeare's very first written work, is so romantically rich, historically accurate, and theatrically overstuffed that in a stroke of genius The Bard decided to break it up into the thirty-seven plays (...or, depending on recent scholarship, 38...39....) that we know today as the Shakespearean canon.
Tickets, starting at $35, are on sale at www.thebroadstage.org or by calling 310-434-3200.
William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged) is the literary holy grail: an actual manuscript in Shakespeare's own hand showing all his most famous characters and familiar speeches in a brand-new story. But because it's one hundred hours long and contains multiple unwieldy storylines, the RSC decides, as a public service, to abridge it down to a brief and palatable ninety minutes and perform the world premiere of this lost masterpiece.
There's method in their madness as the "Bad Boys of Abridgment" reduce this 100 hour masterpiece into a ninety minute minimum opus (the theatrical equivalent of a tweet) filled with ancient grudges, mistaken identities, unsettled ghosts, magical spells, questionable potions, powerful tempests, devastating shipwrecks, men dressed as women, and twins twins twins!
In this strange-yet-familiar narrative, an ancient grudge pits Puck (from Midsummer) against Ariel (from The Tempest) and turns Shakespeare's canon upside-down, creating such strange bedfellows as Hamlet and that master motivator Lady Macbeth, Viola and Richard III, King Lear and the Weird Sisters, and (of course) Dromio and Juliet.
Using questionable scholarship and street-performer smarts, playwrights Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor weave together most of the famous speeches and plot devices of Shakespeare's thirty-nine plays to create a fast, funny, and fictional fortieth, filled with witty wordplay and vaudevillian variety.
"What makes this different from all of our other scripts is 'The Long Lost First Play' tells a single story from beginning to end," said Tichenor in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "The other shows have tended to be sketch shows with a theme. We are usually just looking for laughs, but now we are looking for laughs and for the audience to follow the surprising turns that the narrative takes."
This is the playwright as a newbie - "first-draft Shakespeare," Mr. Tichenor calls him - and he's working out who goes where, or with whom, and what might sound better in another story down the road. Some of those gasp-worthy moments may or may not have to do with the pairings of characters from different works - star-crossed lovers are nothing compared to some of those who cross paths in this play, "which contains every character and every famous speech."
Broadway world said, "An absolute resolute hoot of a bawdy comedy of errors!"
Celia Wren said in the Washington Post, "With the aid of lightning-fast costume changes, multiple wigs, water pistols, a kazoo, at least one puppet and the odd bit of audience-ribbing improvisation, the performers interpret a strange-but-familiar text ... this script conjures up a tale of shipwrecks, incongruous romances, mishap-filled revenge schemes, separated twins, the Forest of Arden-Birnam and a misunderstanding that fleetingly replaces Caliban with the Taliban. Pinocchio puts in an appearance (Shakespeare loved to people his plays with Italians, you know). Falstaff has a fling with a ukulele-strumming Richard III ... with lickety-split pacing, a cheerfully impudent tone and a breezy allusiveness."
About Reduced Shakespeare Company
Since its pass-the-hat origins in 1981, the Reduced Shakespeare Company has created ten world-renowned stage shows, two television specials, several failed TV pilots, and numerous radio pieces, all of which have been performed, seen, and heard the world over. The company's itinerary has included stops off-Broadway, at the White House, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, London's West End, Seattle Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theatre and Montreal's famed Just For Laughs Festival, as well as performances in Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Malta, Singapore and Bermuda, plus countless civic and university venues throughout the USA, the UK, and Europe.
The company's first three shows, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Complete History of America (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) ran for over nine years at the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus. They were London's longest-running comedies, and the RSC had more shows running in the West End than Andrew Lloyd Webber. They were also funnier.
In 2016, in honor of the company's 35th anniversary and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the RSC premiered its tenth stage show, William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged), at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC. In 2013 the "Bad Boys of Abridgment" unveiled The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) - to critical and commercial acclaim at both Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, as well as on national tours of the the USA and UK. The Complete World of Sports (abridged) opened in 2010 at Merrimack Rep and after touring the USA and UK, ran at the Arts Theatre in London during the 2012 London Olympics. In 2011 came the world premiere of The Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged) which became Merrimack Repertory Theatre's best-selling holiday show ever, and the third-best-selling show in MRT's history and also enjoyed a successful run at San Diego Repertory Theatre as well as multiple tours across the USA.
The RSC applied its fast, funny and physical approach to World History in Western Civilization: The Complete Musical (abridged) [original title: The Complete Millennium Musical (abridged)], which toured simultaneously in the US, UK and Australia) and condensed literature into a 90-minute roller-coaster ride in All the Great Books (abridged), which has played to great acclaim at the Kennedy Center, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Seattle's ACT Theatre, and Alabama Shakespeare Festival, as well as Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, and Sweden (in Swedish!). They skewered the 186 greatest movies of all time Completely Hollywood (abridged), which has received critical kudos across the US and UK, as well as Belgium, Holland, Hong Kong, and Barbados.
For TV, the RSC compressed the first five seasons of Lost into a ten-minute film called Lost Reduced, and was a Jeopardy! category in the 2005 and 2006 Tournaments of Champions. They wrote and starred in The Ring Reduced, a half-hour version of Wagner's Ring Cycle for Channel 4 (UK), and reduced the Edinburgh Festival for BBC and the soap opera Glenroe for RTE Ireland. Shakespeare (abridged) aired on PBS and is available on DVD, as is America (abridged).
For National Public Radio, the RSC has been heard on All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, Day to Day, West Coast Live, and To The Best of Our Knowledge. The BBC World Service commissioned the six-part Reduced Shakespeare Radio Show. The Reduced Shakespeare Company Christmas was heard on Public Radio International.
The RSC won the prestigious Shorty Award in New York City and the Delft Audience Award in Holland. They've been nominated for an Olivier Award, two Helen Hayes Awards and the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award.
On April 23, 2014 the company set a Guinness World Record for the Highest Theatrical Performance at 37,000 feet aboad an EasyJet flight from London to Verona.