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Theatre & Dance

“All The Great Books (abridged)”

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March 20, 2003 :: No. 180

Reduced Shakespeare
GREAT LIT’S GREATEST HITS—The Reduced Shakespeare Company (from left Matthew Croke, Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor) performs in “All the Great Books (abridged)”

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Who: PAIR (Professional Artists in Residence) Celebrity Series
   
What: The Reduced Shakespeare Company in the Orange County premiere of “ALL THE GREAT BOOKS (ABRIDGED)”
   
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 19, 2003 (one performance only)
   
Where: Plummer Auditorium, 201 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton
   
Background:

They’ve shortened Shakespeare in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” condensed American history in “The Complete History of America (abridged),” compacted The Bible in “The Complete Word of God (abridged)” and minced The Millennium in “The Complete Millennium Musical (abridged).”

Now the Reduced Shakespeare Company — the so-called “Bad Boys of Abridgement” — are back with their newest show “All the Great Books (abridged)” in its Orange County premiere performance as part of the show’s first national tour.

Following the comic format of their previous opuses, “All the Great Books” purports to reduce all of Western Literature into a single evening’s entertainment performed by the three-member comedy troupe: Matthew Croke as The Student Teacher, Reed Martin as The Coach and Austin Tichenor as The Drama Teacher.

No classic from “Beowulf” to “War and Peace” remains safe from the RSC’s slings and arrows of outrageous parody. The New York Times calls the company’s work “intellectual vaudeville.”

Company member Martin says the show covers “Great Lit’s Greatest Hits”: “We go over every book you should have read in high school, but probably didn’t,” he says.
The trio of clowns will take the audience through 83 great books from “Aeneid, The” to “Zarathustra, Thus Spake.” “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” are combined as a joint sketch called “The Oddity.” “Little Women” is explained in terms of football plays on a blackboard. And Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” becomes a steamy episode of the television soap opera “Port Charles.”

Along the way there are arguments about political correctness, censorship, “the literary canon” and racism, interspersed with lots of props and silly costumes.
Since its inception in 1981 as a pass-the-hat act at California renaissance faires, the Reduced Shakespeare Company has created five stage shows, four television programs and numerous radio pieces.

The Company’s many international performances include stops at the White House, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Montreal’s famed “Just For Laughs Festival,” the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Israel Theatre Festival, extensive overseas tours to Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Israel, Singapore, Bermuda and Great Britain, and countless civic and university venues from Alaska to Florida and Hawaii to Maine.

The company’s first two shows (“Shakespeare” and “America”) are officially London’s longest-running comedies, having played in repertory at the Criterion Theatre in the West End since 1996. In 2003 “The Bible” joined the London rep rotation, giving the RSC more shows in the West End than Andrew Lloyd Webber!
Following this tour of “All the Great Books (abridged)” the Reduced Shakespeare Company will perform the piece for a full summer run at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Critics have hailed the Reduced Shakespeare Company for their “breathlessly paced … slapstick merriment” (The New York Times), “zany, madcap satire” (Chicago Tribune) and “pure fun … a laugh a minute at least” (Washington Post). The Boston Herald called them a “trio of modern Marx Brothers.”

   
Tickets: Advance sales $22.50 & $27.50 ($2-off on advance sales with Titan discount — full time students, senior citizens or CSUF ID). At the door all tickets $22.50 & $27.50.
   
Box Office: Performing Arts Center box office 657-278-3371 (11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Mondays-Fridays) or on the Internet at www.tickets.com.
   
Internet Sites: www.pair.fullerton.edu
www.reducedshakespeare.com
   
Computer Disk: 30-minute show preview/feature available by request.
   
Media Contact: Elizabeth Champion, College of the Arts at 657-278-2434


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