Reduced Shakespeare Company

The Reduced Shakespeare Company is an American acting troupe that writes and performs unsubtle, fast-paced, seemingly improvisational condensations of huge topics. The Company was founded in 1981 by Daniel Singer, who wrote a 25-minute, 4-actor version of William Shakespeare''s Hamlet, to be performed at the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Novato, California. He cast himself as Polonius, Horatio, and Laertes; Jess Borgeson as the prince; Michael Fleming as Bernardo, Claudius, and the Ghost of Hamlet''s father; and Barbara Reinertson as Ophelia and Gertrude. When Reinertson broke her ankle three weeks into the run, Borgeson suggested that school-chum Adam Long fill in for her in drag. A wig was procured, and Long''s performance was described as "uncanny." The show won high praise and developed a large following. Borgeson returned to college in 1983 to pursue a degree in English literature, leaving Singer and Long to continue under the RSC banner. They penned a twenty-minute version of Shakespeare''s Romeo and Juliet, which they performed at Renaissance Fairs, on street-corners, beaches, and at private events. Crowds were amazed to see two men arrive with a small basket of costumes, two fencing foils, two bottles of poison, a rose, a dagger, a wig and a dummy, and proceed to enact the entire story with the zany style of a Marx Brothers movie. Taking the advice of some fellow street-performers, Long and Singer expanded the comedy in the act and solicited for tips afterwards; their solicitations proved generally successful.

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