Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged) with The Reduced Shakespeare Company

Acclaimed stars of the West End stage, The Reduced Shakespeare Company are back with another barnstormingly irreverent and breathtakingly hilarious celebration of our cultural heritage – as seen through the eyes of three Americans wearing trainers. In a better-late-than-never nod to the Bard’s 400th anniversary, the bad boys of abridgement present this ‘new’ play by the man himself, as discovered in a Leicester car park!

For our latest Inside Swindon Theatres Blog we sat down with Austin Tichenor, co-writer and co-writer of the show.  Read our chat below.


Hi Austin, Thank you for your time. What can audiences expect from the show?

A hysterical evening of Shakespeare-related tomfoolery. If you’ve seen a Reduced Shakespeare Company show before, you can expect the same fast, funny, and physical performance style, but this time in the service of reducing a massive 100 hour long manuscript we found in a Leicester car park (next to some bones that didn’t look that important). We tell a single narrative in which Puck (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Ariel (from The Tempest) revive their ancient grudge and merry war, creating a “sorcerer’s apprentice” level of chaos that sweeps across all of Shakespeare’s plays and includes his most famous characters and speeches.

Reduced Shakespeare 1.jpg

Photo Credit: Geraint Lewis 

That sounds fantastic! Where did the inspiration for the show come from?

In 2010, we were given a private tour of the Folger Shakespeare Library vaults by then-director Gail Paster and Head of Reference Georgianna Ziegler. (The Folger vaults in Washington DC contain the largest collection of First Folios in the world.) Dr. Ziegler told us, in a conversation recorded for an episode of our Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast, “My holy grail would be to find an actual manuscript of a Shakespeare play in his own hand.” Dr. Paster agreed. “That would be so cool,” she said. “So cool.” Because we are nothing but givers, we decided to hurry history along and create the long lost manuscript we all hoped to find.


Photo Credit: Geraint Lewis 

What a great way to get inspiration for a show! What are your favourite Shakespeare quotes?

Oh my goodness, so many. “Toupee, or not toupee…” “I come to marry Kate, not to seize her.” “What thou seest when thou dost wake / Do it for thy true love take. / You’re looking so crazy in love / Got you looking, got you looking so crazy in love…”

How important is Shakespeare today?

He’s better than important — he’s there, all around us. People don’t realize how much Shakespeare they actually know because his language and ideas are embedded in our pop-cultural and intellectual DNA. And he belongs to the world — people in every country on the planet embrace his plays and language and characters as their own.


Photo Credit: Geraint Lewis 

What are your favourite Shakespeare plays?

The Comedy of Errors, because it’s the shortest. Actually, I don’t really have favorite plays but I have favorite productions. The Hollow Crown’s Richard II with Ben Whishaw was definitive. A literally magical production of The Tempest (co-directed by Teller, the silent half of magic-act duo Penn & Teller) at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in 2015. The “other RSC” (Royal Shakespeare Company) production of Pericles with Nigel Terry in 1989. A knockabout commedia version of Taming of the Shrew in the 1970s with Marc (The Beastmaster) Singer.

Reduced Shakespeare 3.jpg

Photo Credit: Geraint Lewis 

And finally, If you could name a brand new Shakespeare play, what would it be?

Much Ado About Something Quite Important, Really

The Real Merry Desperate Housewives of Windsor

Fast Times at Stratford High


The Reduced Shakespeare Company are at the Wyvern Theatre on Fri 3 March.

For more information and to buy tickets please visit:

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