Com­edy based on Bard’s works set to make Bei­jing de­but

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By CHEN­NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

It has been al­most 30 years since the US com­edy troupe Re­duced Shake­speare Com­pany’s show, The Com­plete Works of Wil­liam Shake­speare (abridged), made its de­but. It has been run­ning in Lon­don for al­most 10 years, mak­ing it the long­est run­ning com­edy in the city’s theater his­tory.

Now, the troupe of direc­tors and ac­tors Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin and Dan Saski, is bring­ing the show to Bei­jing for the first time.

In 2014, the show was per­formed at the sec­ondWuzhen Theater Fes­ti­val, an an­nual in­ter­na­tional event in the town ofWuzhen in East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

The au­di­ence adored the show, and like those who have seen the show in 14 coun­tries they were laugh­ing, sur­prised and de­lighted.

Writ­ten by the found­ing mem­bers of the troupe, Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Win­field, the show is a 97-minute com­pos­ite of 37 Shake­spearean plays like Romeo and Juliet, Othello andMac­beth.

“I think the show works very well. It’s an ir­rev­er­ent cel­e­bra­tion of Shake­speare. It’s silly and funny and smart. We like to say that if you like Shake­speare, you’ll like the show and if you hate Shake­speare you’ll love the show. To be hon­est, you don’t need to know any­thing at all about Shake­speare to find the show ab­so­lutely hi­lar­i­ous,” says Martin, who joined the troupe in 1989.

Each of the three mem­bers plays about 12 to 15 char­ac­ters in the show so there are a lot of quick cos­tume changes. Some­times mis­takes hap­pen and this is usu­ally pretty funny for the au­di­ence. If some­thing goes wrong, they just keep go­ing and make a joke about it.

The au­di­ence is, col­lec­tively, the fourth mem­ber of the troupe. The ac­tors come into the au­di­ence and ask them ques­tions. They get the au­di­ence to help in the telling of the story.

“Our goal is to be funny but ... we like to have a se­ri­ous mo­ment to show the au­di­ence that we could do it se­ri­ously ifwe­wanted to. We try to high­light the most fa­mous plays and char­ac­ters from Shake­speare — the parts the au­di­ences are most likely to be fa­mil­iar with,” Martin says.

Since the show tours glob­ally, the troupe also in­cor­po­rates lo­cal ref­er­ences into the script.

For ex­am­ple, at theWuzhenTheater Fes­ti­val two years ago, they had 7:30 pm, Nov 25; 2:30pm and 7:30 pm, Nov 26. Tian­qiao Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, 9 Tian­qiao South Street, Xicheng district, Bei­jing. 400-635-3355 Reed Martin, Ham­let mak­ing the fa­mous “to be or not to be” re­mark in Chi­nese. Au­di­ences loved it.

Since the troupe was founded in 1981, it has been known for tak­ing

7:30 pm, Nov 25; 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm, Nov 26. Tian­qiao Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, 9 Tian­qiao South Street, Xicheng district, Bei­jing. 400-635-3355. It’s an ir­rev­er­ent cel­e­bra­tion of Shake­speare. It’s silly and funny and smart.”

long, se­ri­ous top­ics and turn­ing them into short, sharp come­dies, such as The Com­plete His­tory of Amer­ica, The Bi­ble: The Com­plete Word of God and Com­pletely Hol­ly­wood.

Ac­cord­ing to Martin, the troupe first started by per­form­ing out­doors and do­ing short ver­sions of Ham­let and Romeo and Juliet and usu­ally asked the au­di­ence to do­nate­money at the end of the show.

“That’s how our fast, funny and phys­i­cal style de­vel­oped. We had to hold the au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion at all times be­cause if they walked away be­fore the show was over then they would not be able to give us any money,” Martin says.

The troupe re­cently pre­miered their 10th show, Wil­liam Shake­speare’s Long Lost First Play in the United States.

“We like to call Shake­speare ‘Amer­ica’s great­est liv­ing play­wright’ even though he’s not alive and not re­ally Amer­i­can. His plays con­tinue to live. Shake­speare truly be­longs to ev­ery coun­try,” saysMartin.

di­rec­tor, Re­duced Shake­speare Com­pany

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Re­duced Shake­speare Com­pany is tour­ing China with a com­pos­ite play in­spired by the play­wright’s many works.

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