The Reduced Shakespeare Company, in short, reduces long boring topics into condensed sharp comedies using just three guys on one stage. This year they are touring THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) around the UK and have recently performed at the Nottingham Playhouse: all 37 plays in 97 minutes with 151 sonnets to boot. Matt Rippy, performer meets director meets webmaster, talks to Impact.
1. Describe a typical day in the life of the RSC
A typical day involves travel, lunch, motorways, Little Chef breakfasts, dusty, dirty backstage areas, local pubs… and the whole purpose is for 97 minutes of theatrical magic. We hope. Fingers crossed.
2. How would you describe the Reduced Shakespeare Company to someone who has no idea what it is?
We cleverly reduce 37 Shakespeare plays by taking out all the boring stuff and cutting straight to the sex and the killing. There is a method for our madness. To use scholarly logic, if you look at the Histories it’s full of kings passing the throne from one generation to the next – exactly like American football – only you use a crown instead of a football! Some people say do we need to know Shakespeare? What we like to say is our shows are a rollercoaster ride through the canon. I like to see our show as a gateway drug to lure you into the world of the bard – we’ll start something that you’ll be addicted with and want more and more. If you love Shakespeare – you’ll really like our show; if you hate Shakespeare – you’ll love our show.
3. What are the best and worst things about touring?
I think I can answer for all the guys – one of the reasons we do this is because we love the show, we love each other, we love travelling. For starters you have to enjoy working together; we really just hire other people we can hang out in a van with for 10 months at a time. Highlights are hanging out and doing the show. Lowlights – travelodges and too many full English breakfasts (I long for some good American pancakes).
4. What is it like acting and directing?
I love it. I am an assistant director – I’ve been doing this since 1996, so I’m just around to impart some of my knowledge. I love both roles but mostly I love being an actor; it means I get to run around and throw wigs and wear inflatable balloon breasts and vomit on people – because that’s my own interpretation of most of Shakespeare’s tragic women. They tend to die and vomit.
5. Have you always wanted to work in theatre?
It didn’t start out with that notion of “I want to grow up and be famous”. No. I sort of realised when I did my first play, age 13: “Oh, this is fun, the stage is a playground and you get to play on it and people pay money to see you play! That’s where I want to make my living, on a playground”. All of our eight shows have been with a sense of joy and fun. And I think respect. Some people ask “Are you taking the piss out of Shakespeare?” and we’re not at all because we love Shakespeare; if we’re going to spend years of our lives riffing on a theme we’d better like what we’re talking about. We only reduce things that we love. It’s only out of respect. We bring the bard to the playground. We don’t want the masses to be afraid of Shakespeare because Shakespeare was really just having fun, he was treating the stage as a playground.
Eve Wersocki Morris
For more information on the Reduced Shakespeare Company visit: