Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast

Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast

United Kingdom

~ Brevity is the soul of wit. ~


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 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, avoiding extra-textual issues, and the importance of global representation and adding to the conversation. (Length 18:31)

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 crime writer ever! (Hint: It’s not who you think!) (Unless it’s Shakespeare, in which case it’s exactly who you think.) It’s a finale of fun! (Length 23:09)

Episode 512. Touring In/With America  

With just a little more than a month to go before the 2016 Presidential Election, we discuss what it's like to be performing The Complete History of America (abridged): Election Edition across the country. Featuring old friends, big tours, wonderful responses, surprising allegiances, different interpretations, unlikely Hamilton influences, a special appearance by David J. Loehr from The Incomparable Network, and the delight of putting on something so warm and comfortable. (Length 19:52)

Episode 511. Improvising Jane Austen  

  Rachel Parris (right) is one of the performers in Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel, which performs in London, Edinburgh, and around the UK, and she talks about how one goes about improvising this beloved British author. She also discusses creating her one-woman show "Best-Laid Plans" and sheds light on the company's ground rules, her own improvised pedantry, the courage that is born of improv, the reality of Fringe fatigue, the challenges of creating improv for TV, the differences between improv in the US and UK, and how one can make comedy out of a "third-life crisis." (Length 22:36)

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 public radio host, and we chatted recently about how his theatre background informs his journalism. Featuring funny voices, invaluable training, critical thinking, a shout-out to influential professors like Richard E.T. White, an excerpt from our interview on The Frame, and tips on overcoming the surprising challenge of appearing relaxed. (Length 26:14)

Episode 509. ‘The Bugle’ Podcast  

The definitive "Audio Newspaper for a Visual World™," The Bugle Podcast is one of the seminal achievements in the annals of journalism and political satire. Comedian Andy Zaltzman (right) talks about The Bugle's creation and his long-time partnership with co-creator John Oliver, how they put it together it on a weekly basis, and what form it might take in the future. Featuring the value of deadlines, a double-standard when it comes to puns, the art of stand-up, the pull of performance, the influence of ancient Greek comedy, the wonder of cricket, and satire's wonderful ability to provide irony and perspective in troubled times. (Length 24:24)

Episode 508. Tim’s Shakespearean Ancestors  

Actor, singer, improviser, comedian, and radio personality Tim Fitzhigham talks about the connections between some of his ancestors and a young dramatic poet (and possible Catholic) named William Shakespeare. Featuring family connections to both Edward Alleyn and Anne Line, the making of a saint, possible inspirations for Cymbeline and "The Phoenix and the Turtle," the noble art of Morris Dancing, the re-creation of a nine-days’ wonder called The Bard's Fool, bewitched cows, scholarship both wondrous and reduced, a special appearance by Edinburgh Fringestitution™ Mervyn Stutter, and the comic possibilities of a dead dog. (Length 19:17)

Episode 507. Our Edinburgh Favorites  

On this, the last day of the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor, and Teddy Spencer reflect on the favorite shows they saw this year, expressing delight at the highlights and disappointment in the lowlights. Featuring lovely surprises, shows that were difficult to categorize, surprisingly few disappointments, fantastic productions you'll never see anywhere else, and the all-important tally of who saw the most shows. (SPOILER: Teddy beat Reed, 69 to 60 in three weeks.) (Length 22:56)

Episode 506. Shakespeare In China  

In July 2016, we taught theatre workshops and directed a reduced version of Midsummer Night's Dream in Beijing, China. Hosted by Tin House Productions, who is producing our three-week Chinese tour later this year, we worked with a fantastic group of kids as well as (for one night) a large group of grownups, and conveyed the seriousness of games, the trick of timing our translations, the exhaustion of kitties in corners, and learned (once again) about the universality of Shakespeare -- and laughter. (Length 23:44)

Episode 505. Retracing Shakespeare’s Steps  

University of Warwick doctoral candidate Ronan Hatfull returns to discuss the journey he made with his father David along the Shakespeare Walk, the path we think William Shakespeare might have made as he walked from Stratford to London. Featuring an excellent cause (the Lizz Ketterer Trust), recreating 16th century journeys, Chaucerian influences, Shakespearean inspirations, a blight of ne’er-do-wells, ancient photographic technology, the unbeatable example of Will Kemp, a very special tree in a field, and a shocking shortage of blasted heaths. (Length 21:03)

Episode 504. Our Edinburgh Plans  

At the end of the first week of our return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the European premiere of William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged), we confer about how we're going to spend our remaining time here and what shows we're going to see. Featuring pro tips, viewing advice, exotic Scottish cuisine, the number of comedian magicians you care to see, a visit from an old friend, doe-eyed innocence, and the coinage of our favorite new word: “Americanified”. (Length 20:22)

Episode 503. Too Much Parody?  

Is there such a thing? Podcast listener and theatre critic Shannon Friday joins us to talk about this question, and inspires us to reflect on issues of theatrical parody, whether there’s too much of it, its value and its limits, the differences between parody and satire, the fear of changing one’s views, the ability to look at things in a new light, critical confessions, constructive criticism, words of wisdom from the inner circle, whether William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) even qualifies as parody, and the insidious power of laughter. (Length 25:24)

Episode 502. Directing Richard III  

Jessica Thebus directed Richard III for Chicago's Gift Theatre in the spring of 2016, an amazing production that starred Michael Patrick Thornton (right) in the title role. Jessica talks about the impetus for directing this famously challenging play and reveals where the drama gets most focused, the secrets to fantastic fight choreography, comparisons to FDR, stunning coups de theatre as Act One closers, and, most importantly, how to set your lead actor up for success when tackling one of the most famous opening soliloquies in western literature. (Length 23:11)

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 watching old movies, the value of outside eyes, the dangers of getting stuck in acting mode, the beauty of the "showmance", the richness of history, the defiance of easy labels, and the wonders of writing to a specific ensemble. (Length 21:02)

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 book of humor and 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 white fragility, a special appearance by Steve Smith, creative director of San Francisco's Circus Center, a shout-out to Kinky Friedman, and politically correct ways to call someone an ignorant bigot. (Length 22:57)

Episode 498. Year Of Shakespeare  

Director Kate Powers talks about her work on the 400 Dreams Initiative with the Shakespeare Theatre Association and how her work with Rehabilitation Through the Arts led to a production of Twelfth Night in Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Featuring Shakespeare in space, Bard Badges, celebrating Shakespeare in all its forms, the greatness of getting your Bard on, the importance of not giving into Shakesfeare, the pertinence of Twelfth Night in a prison setting, and a slightly random but not totally unrelated shout-out to Harley Granville-Barker. (Length 23:22)

Episode 497. The Folger Theatre  

Janet Alexander Griffin has led the public programs of the Folger Shakespeare Library since 1982 and has been the Artistic Producer of the Folger Theatre’s programming since 1992. She was good enough to include us in the Folger’s festivities surrounding William Shakespeare’s 400th Deathiversary, and she was good enough to talk to us about the relationship between scholarship and art, the challenges of the Folger space, the pitfalls of programming Hamlet, a preview of the Folger’s commission of Aaron Posner’s District Merchants, the importance of avoiding marble boxes, the joys of confidently choosing your collaborators, and the value of valuing both scholars and artists. (Length 19:46)

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 sit down and discuss his novels, perversely dark homages, inspirations for both Valjean and Javert, the importance of starting points, the heroes of English literature, the importance of writing regimens, and the power of being able to imagine anything except not being a writer. (Length 19:52)

Episode 495. Curator Of Manuscripts  

Heather Wolfe is the Curator of Manuscripts and Archivist at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC and the one everyone turns to find out whether a long lost manuscript is authentic. Heather talks about her work and reveals surprising details about ghost stories, swiftly changing technologies, ink recipes, where quill pens come from, what might actually have happened to Shakespeare’s first drafts, the incredible usefulness of hard insect excretions, and the importance of paleography without tears. (Length 20:35)

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