‘A tale told by idiots’

Laramie will host The Reduced Shakespeare Company: “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged)” before it heads to Broadway in New York.

Photo courtesy of Reduced Shakespeare Company

The University of Wyoming will host “William Shakespeare’s Long lost First Play (abridged)” — a play ultimately bound for Broadway this weekend — before anyone in New York has a chance to see it.

Janelle Fletcher, director of UW Presents, said productions head the opposite direction, more often than not, and often miss smaller markets such as Laramie in favor of places such as Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles.

“This is a brand-new work,” Fletcher said, adding even she had not seen it. “Laramie will see it before it heads to New York, (where) it will play on Broadway at the New Victory Theatre this spring. So, Laramie sees it before New York, and that’s a rarity.”

The Reduced Shakespeare Company — a comedy troupe of three, who describe their genre as “new vaudeville” — wrote the play opening in Laramie today.

The company has written several short, sharp comedies, which dig into widely varying topics, including “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” and “The Complete World of Sports (abridged).”

The company’s newest play brings the trio back to Shakespeare, where they combine elements of the bard’s many stories into an irreverent concoction.

“It’s definitely a comedy,” Fletcher said. “The company calls it a ‘tale told by idiots’ and basically, they take all of Shakespeare’s famous characters, his greatest lines and speeches and they weave it into a smorgasbord of Shakespeare.”

UW Presents, which is sponsoring the play, is the recently reimagined UW Cultural Programs.

“UW Presents was formerly known as Cultural Programs and we went through a name change and rebranding in this last year in order to sort of better describe the broader scope of events that we are bringing in,” Fletcher said. “We really are broadening our scope to include what is relevant and what is vogue in the world of performing and touring arts today.”

Cultural Programs was founded roughly three decades ago and remains committed, under its new name, to bringing high quality acts to UW, Fletcher said.

“UW Presents is comprised of nationally and internationally known touring acts,” she said. “These are acts that are usually on their way from New York to Los Angeles. They are extraordinarily talented, A-level artists for whatever they are doing within the worlds of their own genres.”

The sold-out first showing begins at 7:30 p.m. today, but tickets are still available for a second showing that starts at 2 p.m. Sunday. There is no Saturday showing.

“We’ve left Saturday open for a little bit of a sheep beatdown, if you will,” Fletcher said. “The actors themselves are actually going to go watch the football game on Saturday as well, so they can’t possibly be entertaining Laramie when they also are cheering for UW at the Border War.”

Tickets at $20 for the public, $17 for seniors and $10 for students. They can be purchased at the Performing Arts Box Office or at www.uwyo.edu/finearts. Call the box office at 766-6666 for more information.

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