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Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast
22 minutes | Oct 4, 2022
Actor/Singer David Benoit
Broadway veteran David Benoit works all over the country, including the current Chicago Lyric Opera production of Fiddler on the Roof and the recent world premiere musical Bruce at Seattle Rep. David discusses the various paths he's taken to some of his favorite roles; how he considers the audition the job; learning lessons from Susan Stroman; how to partner in the dance between actor and director; the importance of avoiding cutesy pogroms; manifesting roles as far back as third grade; and how Jaws nerdery leads to work! (Length 21:33) The post Actor/Singer David Benoit appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
27 minutes | Sep 29, 2022
‘Owning Shakespeare’ Podcast
The first season of Rob Myles' extraordinary Owning Shakespeare podcast is now available on all the usual platforms, and it's a fantastic collection of six noted Shakespeare actors tackling (in real time) a speech they've never looked at before, and sharing their process, stumbles, and successes with the listener. Rob's a wonderful guide, and he joins us to discuss how the podcast came together; how the RSC's Austin Tichenor was a briefly unwitting test subject; what this and future seasons will accomplish; how he blushes at praise for his knowledge of Shakespeare and skills as a director; the joy of taking both Shakespeare and actors off pedestals; how a rushed rehearsal process led to a kind-of triage of Shakespeare; the importance of demystifying the idea that actors are only using “intuition;” how to avoid "impenetrable babble;" the value of showcasing the new generation of Approved Shakespeareans; and the hoped-for possibility of getting an Avenger on Season Two. (Length 21:40) (PICTURED, clockwise from top left, the six "text detectives" from Season One of Owning Shakespeare: Isabel Adomakoh Young, Austin Tichenor, Miguel Perez, Debra Ann Byrd, Paterson Joseph, and Adjoa Andoh.) The post ‘Owning Shakespeare’ Podcast appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
25 minutes | Sep 20, 2022
Tyla Abercrumbie’s ‘Relentless’
Tyla Abercrumbie is an actor, director, and playwright whose play Relentless was produced by Chicago's Timeline Theatre Company, called "The best new work here in years," by the Chicago Tribune, then subsequently presented by the Goodman Theatre. Relentless tells the story of two sisters who return to Philadelphia in 1919 to settle the estate of their mother and make family discoveries that change their knowledge of the past and will possibly determine their future. Tyla talks about her play came to be; what inspired it but also (more importantly) what motivated it; how her acting informs her writing; her goals for a large canon; the joy of costumes, both wearing them and writing for them; the fun of doing it the way Shakespeare did it; and how disparate ideas come together as if they were meant to be – which they probably were. (Length 21:40) (PICTURED: Ayanna Bria Bakari and Jane Ladymore in the Timeline Theatre Company’s production of Tyla Abercrumbie’s Relentless, at the Goodman Theatre, directed by Ron OJ Parson.) The post Tyla Abercrumbie’s ‘Relentless’ appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
22 minutes | Sep 12, 2022
Adrian’s Alan Adaptation
Two-time Olivier Award winning actor Adrian Scarborough has written The Clothes They Stood Up In, an adaptation of the novella of the same name by Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George, Talking Heads, The History Boys, and The Lady in the Van), about a mild-mannered couple (played by Adrian and Sophie Thompson) who return home from the opera one evening to find their flat completely bare and every single item they own stolen. What happens next is the action of this very funny play, which opens this week at the Nottingham Playhouse, and Adrian talks about about how his adaptation came to be, and how many versions he's had to learn; the challenges of wearing both his actor and playwright hats; his successful preview at The Berko Speakeasy; finding (and imitating) Bennett’s voice; the value of getting microphones in the toilet; the privilege of getting to sit on the other side of the table; and the enormous satisfaction of challenging one's self to come up with the goods. (Length 21:38) The post Adrian’s Alan Adaptation appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
19 minutes | Sep 7, 2022
Ron OJ Parson
Ron OJ Parson is a multiple award-winning director and Resident Artist at the 2022 Tony-winning regional theater Court Theatre in Chicago, where his production of Arsenic and Old Lace opens this Saturday night. Ron’s extraordinary range includes over 30 productions of August Wilson’s plays, musicals, classics, and world premieres, and he discusses how he approaches each script, regardless of genre; how the best direction is collaboration; bonding with Brian Dennehy and formative mentoring from Marion McClinton and Stephen McKinley Henderson; the art of not doing all that much to the play while you’re doing the harder work of just doing the play; how he's one of the folks responsible for it being a golden age of August Wilson in Chicago (and elsewhere); and how believes in the fundamental importance of laughter, not just as entertainment but as catharsis. Can you say #RonaissanceMan? (Length 18:33) (Photo of Ron OJ Parson by Joe Mazza.) The post Ron OJ Parson appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
21 minutes | Aug 29, 2022
Chagall In School
James Sherman is a founding member of the Tony-winning Victory Gardens Theater’s Playwrights Ensemble and his new play, Chagall in School, opens this weekend at Theater Wit in Chicago, in a production by the Grippo Stage Company, directed by Georgette Verdin. Chagall in School follows the the young artist Marc Chagall struggling to find his voice amidst political, cultural, and artistic revolution – which, not coincidentally, happened almost exactly 100 years ago – James discusses the impulse that led to the play's creation; how plays like Chagall in School come to be: the mixed message of people encouraging you to become a playwright after seeing you act; how the first draft of any play is simply the author improvising; the relationship between revolutions in painting and revolutions in acting; and finally, how the audience is the crucial – and final – component for a brand new play. (Length 20:37) (PICTURED: John Drea and Yourtana Sulaiman as Marc and Berta Chagall in James Sherman's Chagall In School, directed by Georgette Verdin, Grippo Stage Company.) The post Chagall In School appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
24 minutes | Aug 23, 2022
Playing Henry V
Chicago actor Sam Hubbard just finished playing the title role in the the Michigan Shakespeare Festival production of Henry V, directed by artistic director Janice L. Blixt. Originally scheduled for the summer of 2020, Sam talks about what changed with two additional years to think about his performance; where he got the freedom to let go of the bad ideas; how Henry succeeds (or doesn’t) in rallying his men; the joy of getting to play dream roles; investigating what effective leadership looks like, both centuries ago and now; the richness of adding memorable unspoken moments to Shakespeare; the temerity of imagining a God-appointed king as actually human in 1598; the gratitude of avoiding the “Intern Drop-off;” and finally, the great good fortune of considering doing the Don Knotts version of Henry V – and then rejecting it. (Length 24:25) (PICTURED: Sam Hubbard in the title role of Henry V, Michigan Shakespeare Festival, directed by Janice L. Blixt. Photo by Victor Yang.) The post Playing Henry V appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
33 minutes | Aug 15, 2022
Mr. Javier Muñoz
Javier Muñoz (Hamilton, In The Heights) stars in The Devil Wears Prada, the new musical based on the film and novel, with songs by Elton John and Shaina Taub. Javier plays Nigel (instantly erasing any memories of Stanley Tucci), and discusses how creating a role is less about ego and more about serving the story and character; the challenges of rehearsing changes during the day while performing the existing show at night; how he gave his first Broadway performance of Alexander Hamilton in front of President Barack Obama and his First Lady Michelle; what originating the song “Seen” means to him and his activism (and how precious it is to work with his “Seen” partner); and how debuting a song written by Sir Elton John differs from performing songs written by Sir Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Length 33:05) (PICTURED: Above, Javier Muñoz in The Devil Wears Prada, directed by Anna D. Shapiro. Photo by Joan Marcus. Below, Javier Muñoz, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Leslie Odom Jr, and the cast of Hamilton greeting President Barack Obama backstage, July 2015. Photo by Pete Souza.) The post Mr. Javier Muñoz appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
22 minutes | Aug 8, 2022
Where We Belong
Madeline Sayet's one-woman show Where We Belong tells the story of her journey from discovering Shakespeare as a child to studying him in England and directing him (and others, and opera) around the world. Madeline is a director, educator, and writer, a member of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut, and she discusses her play's origins; how different audiences react to it; how Shakespeare became a part of her normal childhood fairy-tale world; the sometimes thorny challenge of adapting personal relationships to accommodate the art; an uncomfortable reminder about how history works; possible sequel titles; how everybody wants to be in the play now that it’s a success; the art – and importance – of loving a thing and still being able to criticize a thing; and how theatre can also be good medicine. Where We Belong ran at the Goodman Theatre and will play Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in August 2022, Seattle Repertory Theatre and New York's Public Theatre in the Fall of 2022, and Portland Center Stage and Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2023. (PHOTO: Madeline Sayet in Where We Belong. Photo by Liz Lauren.) (Length 21:33) The post Where We Belong appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
26 minutes | Aug 1, 2022
Celebrating Anne Hathaway
(No, not that one.) This weekend is the 399th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway, and to commemorate the occasion we talk to Dr. Katherine Scheil, author of Imagining Shakespeare’s Wife: The Afterlife of Anne Hathaway. Dr. Scheil discusses what drew her to Hathaway as a subject for study; how Hathaway is almost always portrayed in relationship to Shakespeare; what to make of the “second best bed” she received in Shakespeare’s will; the wonderful democratization and liberating opportunities of biofiction; how sex is frequently the default source of Shakespeare’s “inspiration;” a discussion of the relative merits of the films Shakespeare In Love and All Is True, the TV series Upstart Crow, and the novel Hamnet; and ultimately, how biofiction can be a more insightful way of understanding historical figures, and even how sitcoms can reveal greater story and character nuance than drama. (Length 25:59) The post Celebrating Anne Hathaway appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
19 minutes | Jul 25, 2022
Counting ‘Zero Zebras’
Children’s book author (Great Estimations, The Beastly Feast) Bruce Goldstone discusses his new book Zero Zebras: A Counting Book About What’s Not There, an adorable way of introducing the idea of nothing (and everything!) to a young audience...and maybe even you. Bruce explains how zero’s possibly the most powerful number, and shares inspirational childhood delight from Hughes Mearns’ “I met a man who wasn’t there;” how divisions and categorization are our enemy; a previous collaboration with the world’s most famous (and surprisingly talkative) mime; his fondness for the absurd; the theatrical nature of children’s picture books; mixing classics with vaudeville; how he's introducing children to the concept of seeing and imagining things that aren’t there; and how – as in jazz – it’s all about the zebras you don’t count. (Length 19:22) The post Counting ‘Zero Zebras’ appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
24 minutes | Jul 18, 2022
Celebrating ‘Lookingglass Alice’
David Catlin is a founding Ensemble Member, actor, writer, director, and former Artistic Director of the Tony-winning Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago, and, whose adaptations and productions, which include Moby Dick and The Little Prince, “has sculpted the Lookingglass aesthetic.” David discusses the origins of Lookingglass Alice and the art of combining multiple skillsets; how the show is reshaped to the specific skills of its cast members; how David’s less of a director and more of an air traffic controller; the challenge (and joy!) of creating theater that shatters boundaries and explores possibilities; a proposed title for a new reduced version of a Herman Melville classic; and how Lookingglass is one of several models of college kids forming a theater and making a go of it. (Length 23:57) The post Celebrating ‘Lookingglass Alice’ appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
22 minutes | Jul 11, 2022
Starling Shakespeare Company
Heron Kennedy (left, below) and Jessie Lillis, the founding artistic directors of Starling Shakespeare Company, discuss the company's origins, plans for the future, and the rewards and challenges – both artistic and practical – of performing Shakespeare with only five people. FEATURING: Exploring different institutional models; inspiration from Actors From The London Stage; the definition and comic possibilities of “extreme casting;” the importance of a playful rehearsal room; how they’ve added touring dates and educational residencies; and how, ultimately, Starling Shakespeare provides both an excellent focus on Shakespeare's text – and a remarkable showcase for actors. (Length 21:40) The post Starling Shakespeare Company appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
19 minutes | Jul 4, 2022
Jack And Louise
Two-time Olivier Award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig has written Dear Jack, Dear Louise, a funny and charming romantic comedy that won the Helen Hayes award in 2020 for Best New Play and opens this week at the Northlight Theatre in the suburbs of Chicago. Dear Jack, Dear Louise depicts the unlikely courtship of Ken's parents during World War II, and he discusses the origins of a play that is both right in his wheelhouse and a departure from the rest of his oeuvre; the joy of discovering subject matter that’s both freeing and always surprising; the wonder of actors becoming new people who also have his parents’ essence; whether it’s easier to think of your parents as real people or as characters in a play; how he’s writing a brand-new jukebox comic opera, using music by Rossini, called Tenor Overboard; a shout-out to the Chichester Theater Festival; and how Dear Jack, Dear Louise is ultimately a love letter to Ken’s – any maybe all – parents. (Length 18:45) (PICTURED: Casey Hoekstra and Sarah Price as the title characters in the Northlight Theatre production of Dear Jack, Dear Louise, directed by Jessica Fisch. Photo by Greg Inda. The post Jack And Louise appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
18 minutes | Jun 27, 2022
Summertime Shakespeare Rom-Com
“To go for it, or not to go for it?” That is the appealing question that drives For the Love of the Bard, the debut novel from author Jessica Martin, which is being published just in time to go to the top of your summer reading list, especially if you’re a Shakespeare nerd. The story involves our heroine Miranda Barnes returning to her hometown of Bard’s Rest, New Hampshire, and helping to run the theater festival run by her parents. But once there, Miranda struggles with her feelings for Adam, the hunky veterinarian who spurned her in high school but also looks great with his shirt off. Martin discusses an early pumpkin-related success led to her passion for writing; how writing gets easier only by doing it; how the book’s fantasy works on so many levels; the surprisingly tricky aspects of writing urban fantasy; how she started writing, how she came to Shakespeare, and how she came to write about Shakespeare; shout-outs to both Robertson Davies's Tempest-Tost and the Hogarth series of Shakespearean novels; and how people who don't like Shakespeare puns are sad and to be pitied. (Length 17:32) The post Summertime Shakespeare Rom-Com appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
21 minutes | Jun 20, 2022
The Understudy Bookstore
Chicago will soon get its own Drama Book Shop in the form of The Understudy Bookstore, and founding owners Adam Crawford and Danny Fender talk about their ultimate pandemic pivot and how it's already become a project the entire Chicago theater community is enthusiastically supporting; how Chicago is like one big college theater campus; how difficult it is (and how privileged they are) to be able to realize this beautiful dream; how it’s possible to have a theatrical career in Chicago; how they learned lessons from fellow small business owners; give a shout-out to Scenes, Chicago’s previous theater bookstore; and The Understudy's fantastic motto: “Good Books, Fresh Beans, & All The Drama.” (Length 20:47) The post The Understudy Bookstore appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
21 minutes | Jun 14, 2022
Harlem’s Classical Theatre
Ty Jones, the producing artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem, talks about how CTH has survived the pandemic; continues to provide theatrical productions and theatre-based educational and literary programs for free or at little cost to Harlem residents, businesses, schools, community-based organizations and all who seek Harlem as a cultural destination from around the world; and is trying to create a permanent home for not only itself, but all of Harlem’s classical institutions. FEATURING: how we define classics; unintended consequences of the last two years; the difficulty of keeping the drama on the stage; the possibility of transforming lives, especially for children; creating a sustainable organization; the importance right now of doubling down on support for theater; how costs have skyrocketed post-pandemic; connections to Steve Harris and The Practice; getting the tools, and then sharpening them; the challenge of creating a home for the arts while also bringing the arts to where the people are; adhering to the motto of "go big and get a home!"; and a hugely important push-back on the idea that a parent has failed if their child goes into the arts! (Length 21:00) The post Harlem’s Classical Theatre appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
25 minutes | Jun 10, 2022
Jackie & Me
Louis Bayard's new novel Jackie & Me tells the story of the courtship of Congressman John F. Kennedy and Jackie Bouvier from the point of view of Kennedy’s oldest friend, a closeted gay man named Lem Billings. It’s a charming and moving imagining of how these events played out that takes us inside the heads and hearts of these real people, and Lou discusses how writing about recent Presidential romance is different from writing about 19th-century Presidential romances; how he embraces the multiverse (and who actually invented it); the fun of Googling while reading; a fascination with closeted love; some great jacket copy; how the types of mysteries he writes about has changed; and an irreverent yet perfect celebration of Pride Month. (Length 25:19) The post Jackie & Me appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
25 minutes | May 30, 2022
Michael Chiklis’s Red
Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor Michael Chiklis (The Shield) plays legendary Hall of Fame coach, president, and general manager of the Boston Celtics Red Auerbach in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (now streaming on HBOMax). Michael discusses why the role is so special; why he has a permanent resistance to typecasting, even (and especially) in grad school; the power of actors; the terror of complacency; tales of impulsive behavior in TV audition rooms; the dangers of stinking up the room; the joy of nothing going ‘snap’; a tease about his upcoming project; and how he manifested reinventing himself from “roly-poly affable guy” to someone who's "adult, hard-hitting, smart…and has something to say.” (Length 24:40) The post Michael Chiklis’s Red appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
18 minutes | May 23, 2022
Shakespeare In Detroit
Sam White (left) is the founding artistic and executive director of Shakespeare In Detroit, currently presenting the African-American Shakespeare Company production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) , directed by Reed Martin. On their first opening night in years, in their new home at Marygrove Conservancy, Sam sat down to discuss the history of @ShakesInTheD; her own origin story; how she has a new appreciation for King Lear after caring for aging parents; the important distinction between loving Shakespeare’s works and loving Shakespeare the man; the dangers of taking Shakespeare too seriously; the importance of changing the idea of who Shakespeare is for; how the best actors are funny; the crazy delight of becoming BFFs with Margaret Atwood; and how the pandemic has enriched and deepened our understanding of Shakespeare’s plays. (Length 18:15) (PICTURED: Tre Tyler, Lijesh Krishnan, and Gabe Ross in the Shakespeare In Detroit / African-American Shakespeare Company co-production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) , directed by Reed Martin. Photo by @chuknowak.) The post Shakespeare In Detroit appeared first on Reduced Shakespeare Company.
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