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Title: 'The other RSC' : the history and legacy of the Reduced Shakespeare Company
Author: Hatfull, Ronan
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates the history and legacy of the Reduced Shakespeare Company (RSC), a Californian three-man comedy troupe who have created ten stage shows to date, which encompass abridged, fast-paced versions of substantial, serious topics. My focus is on the company’s inaugural source of adaptation and the subject to which they have regularly returned throughout their 37-year existence: William Shakespeare’s plays, life and influence. The ‘other’ RSC have reached a global audience and represent a fascinating American tale of how a small-scale, open-air troupe gradually expanded into a highly successful theatre brand. I will argue that, through their blend of vaudevillian humour, pop culture references, audience involvement, metatheatrical narratives and intertextual use of Shakespeare, the RSC are central to the development of Shakespearean parody of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. I further contend that the RSC occupy a significant locus in the contemporary performance of Shakespearean adaptation, as demonstrated by the longevity of their work and their influence on other companies. As my thesis will demonstrate, their work oscillates between sincerity and irony and is structured around a series of collisions between characters who differ both in ideology and purpose. This research encompasses an account of the company’s history from 1981 to the present day, interviews conducted with the founders and managing partners as well as close-readings of their Shakespearean texts. I explore the company’s origins at Renaissance Faires during the 1980s and examine their development through three case studies: their first play, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) (1987), their 1994 six-part BBC radio series and their most recent work, William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged) (2016). My project represents the first full-length study of this internationally renowned company, whose plays have been translated worldwide and who hold the record for the longest-running comedy play in London’s West End.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater