Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
View:
Article
Article

William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (Abridged)

Director Tom Massey reveals a brand new Shakespeare play has been discovered in a carpark in Leicester amid some unimportant old bones.

Text size
Text size
Category: Theatre
Book Now
Add to favourites

Great Shakes

Date: 8 Jan 2021

I first saw – and fell in love with – the original Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) when the Reduced Shakespeare Company brought it to the Seymour Centre in the late 90s.

I found myself caught up in the action as the actors stole my programme half way through the show and ripped it apart. I still have that torn up programme, a treasured memento. My girlfriend at the time even took to the stage briefly during that performance to provide Ophelia’s scream.

Years later, I had the great privilege of directing that play for the Genesian Theatre Company in 2015. It was such a joy to take the wheel of such a well loved work and we had a lot of fun bringing it to the stage. We even toured it to the Theatre Royal, Hobart.

When I saw that the Reduced Shakespeare Company had written a new play, William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged), I was thrilled and tremendously keen to direct it as an Australian premiere.

This new play in has even more Shakespeare in it. The writers – Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor – have very cleverly delved into the depths of their central conceit – the discovery of a brand new Shakespeare play buried in a carpark in Leicester amid some unimportant old bones. Written when the Bard was a spotty 17-year-old in Stratford, this manuscript seems to include the first drafts of all of his later body of work that we are familiar with today, all jumbled together in a 100-minute play.

Puck and Ariel battle it out in quest of the title of Best Fairy. Cleopatra falls for Eeyore’s Bottom. Hamlet finds that Lady M is great at motivating him to be more of a ‘to be’ Hamlet rather than a ‘not to be’ Hamlet, while Lear’s three daughters the weird sisters predict, incant, and prepare potions on a Scottish moor…

We even take time to investigate some of the more puzzling stage directions from the Bard: Where, for example, is the coast of Bohemia, as sighted in The Winter’s Tale?

“Does Bohemia have a coast?” cries one of our mariners, Cardenio, aboard a tempest-tossed pirate ship.

“It does not, but I know a guy who knows a guy,” assures our pirate captain, Pompey.

And we do indeed see the famous bear pursuit mentioned in stage directions from that same cold tale, though in our production it plays a little differently, and with more honey …

This show is a joyful celebration of the magic of Shakespeare vigorously mixed with a splash of fun. The people on stage have a genuine (if sometimes confused) love of Shakespeare’s plays and language, and they want to share this love with you. On the whole I hope the mood is “Yay! Shakespeare is awesome, let’s celebrate and have fun”, as we explore what happens if you put all of his characters and scenes into the one amazing play.

And now, I’ve just seen that the Reduced Shakespeare Company have released another new Abridged Shakespeare …

Content
The Apologists: Married to the Job
Add to favourites
TheatreOld 505 Theatre, Newtown, Sydney 20 - 31 Jan 2021

The Apologists: Married to the Job

Gabrielle Scawthorn and Hugo Chiarella had been married for 18 months when they decided to collaborate on an entirely original piece of theatre.

H.M.S. Pinfore: Wave Hello
Add to favourites
ArchivedRiverside Theatres, Parramatta, Sydney 13 - 23 Jan 2021

H.M.S. Pinfore: Wave Hello

By saying goodbye to patriotic flag-waving, H.M.S. Pinafore offers a message to all those lost at sea, writes director Kate Gaul.

Shakespeare for Teenagers: Blessings in Disguise
Add to favourites
Conversation 25 - 25 Jan 2021

Shakespeare for Teenagers: Blessings in Disguise

Shakespeare had huge faith in the young actors who gave us the original Juliet, Lady Macbeth, or Rosalind and Viola. So why don't we, asks George Kemp.

See More

More to see

View All
Ching Chong Chinaman
Add to favourites
ArchivedChippen St Theatre, Chippendale, Sydney 14 - 23 Jan 2021

Ching Chong Chinaman

Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman is a brash, outlandish exploration of identity, race, assimilation, and what it means to be a family.

Hamlet: Prince of Skidmark
Add to favourites
ArchivedThe Playhouse, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point 4 - 21 Jan 2021

Hamlet: Prince of Skidmark

A side-splitting extravaganza for kids shatters the fourth wall and glues it back together with silliness.

Queen Fatima
Add to favourites
ArchivedRiverside Theatres, Parramatta, Sydney 7 - 16 Jan 2021

Queen Fatima

A heartfelt comedy about celebrating our differences, from acclaimed Western Sydney writer James Elazzi.

Rent
Add to favourites
MusicalDrama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point 27 Dec - 31 Jan 2021

Rent

A hit at the Hayes Theatre in 2015, Shaun Rennie's production continues to chime with a new generation.

Top