Shakespeare

Podcast Rec No. 3: "The Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast"

RSC PodcastWhen I was 21 years old, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the DVD recording The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). I was a theatre major who spent her spare time watching Kids in the Hall and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, so this comedy was a perfect mix of my interests that showed up at just the right time. Years after that, my friend Sue told me about the existence of the Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast, hosted by Austin Tichenor. The topics cover the range of comedy and theatre with a bit of science fiction nerdiness thrown in there. I highly recommend this podcast (as well as their recorded shows) to everyone with at least one out of three of these interests. What episode to start with: It’s a tie! “Creating Improv Zombies” and “May the Fourth.”

This was a tough choice, because I really do love all of the episodes and they’re so brief. In “Creating Improv Zombies,” RSC member Reed Martin discusses developing the Improv Zombies from Hell as “a story that can pair The Walking Dead with Whose Line is it Anyway.” It was performed at Napa Valley College, running November 13-22, 2015. Improv and sketch performers and writers might find the conversation enlightening in their own practices from Martin’s use of improv, games, and “stupid human tricks” to build a show.

And the episode “May the Fourth” features writer/podcaster David J. Loehr as well as arts advocate and former director of the American Theatre Wing, Howard Sherman. The trio focuses on the pop-culture phenomenon that is Star Wars, the power of sagas, and the difference between the influence of Star Wars versus Star Trek. They also briefly touch on one of my favorite topics, which is science fiction-based plays and musicals and what is their future. I have my own theories about why and how this could work, but that’s a whole other blog.

Running time: Each episode runs between 15 to 30 minutes. Trust me when I say there is plenty of material here for some serious podcast binging. After all, there’s eight years of it.

For more about the theatre company and the podcast, visit www.reducedshakespeare.com.

KC Ryan is currently a Level Three student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

What We're Loving: Man-Phone Love, The 1st Amendment, Self-Fulfillment, Reconfigured Shakespeare, and Eternal Presidents

dch_what we're loving_02_14_2014Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ashley Bright becomes a better person,  David Allison demands that you drop everything, Julia Cotton ponders what it means to be an adult, Nick Scott suggests a new take on a classic play, and Ryan Callahan takes a trip above the 38th parallel.

Her-Theodore

I will admit that before I saw Her, the plot did not at all interest me. But with the lure of an afternoon movie with an old friend and the cushion of the name Spike Jonze, I went to see it. And I'm grateful that I did. Some may call it hyperbole to say things like, "it changed me" or "it made me a better person" to describe a movie experience, and maybe it is. But this movie certainly stuck to my ribs. About halfway through watching it, I thought to myself that it was one of my new favorites. I didn't care about the plot or how it ended; it was beautiful and that was enough. Afterward, I was comforted to hear my friend express all of the goofy thoughts that I was having. We were both in great moods and spouting off nutty phrases like how we felt more alive and refreshed. Her made me think about how I experience the world and the people in it. Our encounters make us who we are. If you're not into gorgeous cinematography or all of the hippy dippy mumbo jumbo I threw up above, there's a sassy video game character that'll make you laugh enough to make watching Her worthwhile. - Ashley Bright

imagesThis past week, you might’ve heard about a stunt in LA known as Dumb Starbucks.  Someone went through and created a carbon copy of a Starbucks, complete with the exact same drinks options, sizing, signage, everything.  The only difference?  They put the word “dumb” in front of every word so that they would be protected under the laws of parody.  It was pretty great. When I first heard about it, I just thought it was a fun idea.  Then, news quickly broke that it was perpetrated by Nathan Fielder.  Fielder was the mastermind of Nathan for You, one of my favorite shows of last year and created Dumb Starbucks for a segment we’ll see in season two.  If you haven’t checked out the first season of Nathan for You, then drop everything you have planned this evening (Unless you’re going to a show at the Dallas Comedy House!) and check it out for free on Comedy Central’s website. Nathan For You takes the standard concept of highlighting a struggling small business and bringing in a savior to fix everything, and puts a comedic twist on it.  Fielder’s ideas are the perfect combination of absurd, but still kinda sorta not bad and his commitment to them is astounding. - David Allison

judd-apatow-hints-at-girls-season-3-renewalContrary to what you may read or hear about HBO’s Girls, it is not a show about Lena Dunham walking around naked in the name of “girl power”. To me, it’s a show about four “girls” trying to understand what it means to be an adult. Lena is indeed sometimes naked, but I never found it an effort to tackle the whole body image issue as much as an artistic way to express the raw vulnerability that comes with youth and inexperience. I relate to this show because, I, even as a 32-year-old mother of two, always feel like I’m trying to know how to be a grown up. I’ve never felt like I’ve ever made the full adult transformation. In this series about early-20-somethings, I see a lot of late-20-early-30-something Julia.

In the pilot, we meet 24-year-old Hannah (Lena Dunham) living the life I assumed I would be living right out of college: NYC apartment with best friend. Internship that will surely lead to the dream career. Frequent sex with a dude who could have sex with ANYONE, but chooses to have sex with me. Parties with a cool friend who has a british accent. You know-- being a young adult. It is also in this pilot, however, that Hannah’s parents hit her with the all too familiar phrase of impetus: “We are cutting you off.” That phrase that makes one realize that all of these years you thought you were ascending towards becoming a human being all on your own, you’ve actually been dangling from an invisible umbilical cord yet to be severed. Sure being able to financially support yourself is the most obvious thing we have to deal with, but adulthood cannot be summed up to paying bills. Throughout the series, we watch Hannah and her friends try to understand what life is when you are in charge of yourself for-realzies. Along the way, they irrationally destroy relationships, fumble with career goals, mishandle health issues, “inappropriately” cope with death, and of course, deal with boys. "Another Man’s Trash" (S2) is probably my favorite episode because Hannah gets a look at what she thought adulthood meant only to realize how much her own self fulfillment is important to her.

In the level 5 class I TA at DCH, a student brought up that he was watching shows and realized that there are seasoned performers who sometimes don’t do all of the things that he’s been taught in class. He then rationalized, “... everyone is always learning, I guess.” There is no true adult transformation that happens. You don’t graduate college and *poof* get, maintain and excel at a job. You don’t have a baby and *poof* know all it takes to be a parent. You don’t go through an improv training program, perform in troupes and *poof* never an improv blunder make. This show presents the idea that the real goal is not simply to be an adult, but more to become a complete person, and that that is an ongoing effort. Perhaps understanding that concept... is what makes you an adult. - Julia Cotton

51zhJDXzNXLThis week I started making plans to see one of my top five favorite authors, Christopher Moore, speak on his new book, The Serpent of Venice, when it releases in April. The Serpent of Venice is the sequel to what is generally agreed as Moore's best work, Fool, which I am making my "What We're Loving" pick for this week. Every other book Moore writes is a work of historical fantasy. He famously filled in the lost years of Jesus Christ's life in Lamb and more recently revealed what was "really" happening behind the scenes in the late 1800's French art scene in Sacre Bleu. With Fool, Moore takes readers in the world of King Lear, Shakespeare's famous king that is slowly losing his mind, and tells the story from the perspective of King Lear's court jester, Pocket. The book is incredibly well-researched, and Moore expertly blends in other Shakespeare stories and characters. The book is Moore firing on all cylinders: historical references, literature references, vivid characters, and emotional core (Pocket is a jester because he had a terrible life), and dick jokes. So many dick jokes. Also, there are fuck-stockings, which were turned into a real-life product for purchase on his website. - Nick Scott 

Pyongyang-CoverI moved this week. One of the many joys of moving from one apartment to a slightly larger apartment in the same complex is rediscovering favorite but forgotten books, or books that I couldn't live without but haven't read, or books that I had no idea that I owned. Okay, packing and unpacking the books was the only joy of moving. Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea is a graphic novel from 2005 by Québécois illustrator Guy Delisle, and one of those favorite but forgotten books. I picked up Pyongyang years ago at Comic-Con, based entirely on its cover and subject matter. I am fascinated by all things North Korean. That that a country that sounds like the home of a supervillian from a rejected Matt Helm script commands so much power on the world stage, that such a county even exists, fills me with a combination of joy and terror. This book came about after Delisle traveled to North Korea to supervise an animation project  for a French television station. From the moment he steps off the plane and into an airport so dark that he can't see his guide's face (there is barely any light in North Korea, and no bulbs over 40 watts,) Delisle is brisked away to "admire" the highest point in the city, a 22 meter bronze statue of Kim il-Sung, Hero of the People, Father of the Nation, and, despite being dead for 20 years,  Eternal President for Life. From there, the absurdities and contradictions pile on for Delisle: the mandatory photos of Kim il-Sung and Kim Jung-il in every room on every floor of every building, the mandatory Kim Il-Sung pins every citizen is required to wear, the inability to go anywhere without a guide or translator, the ban on outsiders taking pictures of garbage, which would damage the image of North Korea as the most beautiful place on Earth. Pyongyang is a perfect example of truth in comedy. Delisle doesn't have to make any wacky choices, or tell silly jokes, or create bizarre situations. He just has to be present and observe.  The book could have easily been preachy or pandering, but Delisle's touch makes the absurdities of life in the most isolated country in the world all the more amusing, and the atrocities and oppression that exist right beneath the surface all the more chilling. - Ryan Callahan

Fun Fighting

You'll often find yourself during your improv career arguing on stage. It's an easy scene to get into because we naturally like to prove we're correct about something. Also, we feel that by giving a scene conflict, we're making it more interesting to the audience. Most of the time, though, it's not interesting to them. In fact, it's quite tiring watching people argue on stage. But there's a way you can handle conflict and make it fun. It's called the Shakespeare Insult Kit. Just use this handy guide the next time you want to argue on stage with someone, and you'll immediately make the scene more interesting and fun for you, your scene partner and the audience.

Shakespeare Insults