How did the idea for the RSC’s concept of abridged plays come about?
The company originated a long time ago in 1981. The original gang members were pass-the-hat street performers at renaissance fairs in California. They had 20-minute slots to perform in and started off doing short versions of Hamlet. They thought that if they could do two of Shakespeare’s plays under an hour, then surely there was the potential to expand a lot more.
What are some of the challenges of putting on such a large-scale show with only three people? We hear costume changes can be quite tricky.
That’s so true! We play more than a dozen roles in each of the shows we do. The biggest challenge of all is having a group you like working with. In this case we’ve got a nice bunch of people. RSC is very careful about who they hire. They only hire people who are easy to travel with. Sometimes that takes priority over acting ability.
Can everyone relate to your shows?
We try to make sure our shows acceptable to all audiences and we try to write them in such a way that if you don’t know anything about the subject matter, you will still find it funny. You will still be able to enjoy it. The thing we’re most fond of hearing about our shows is that if you know something about it, you’ll love it. If you don’t, you’ll love it too. You don’t have to be a history or movie buff. There is plenty of good stuff for everybody.
Have you gotten into trouble for any of your works?
Well, we use water guns in our show occasionally. Every once in awhile, someone might say, “Hey why are you squirting my wife with a water gun?” It’s all in good fun. Anyone who’s going to get upset about this stuff is taking life too seriously. We’re all just out there to have a good time and make people laugh.
What are some highlights we can look forward to from the Hollywood bit of your show?
There is a climatic, powerful ending to the show. Look out for our staging of upcoming movies that can be quite funny. We also do a combination of movies. Some of them are Snow White and the Seven Samurai and Singing in the Rain.
Get ready to laugh out loud with The Reduced Shakespeare Company through Nov 7, 9-14, 3pm, 8pm. Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Rd., 6412-1335. $58-118 from Sistic.