New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Have you ever met a stranger and knew, almost immediately, that they'll be a part of your life for a long (lost) time? Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor first met when they were young, collegiate actors in an absurdist play. Now, professional performers, directors and writers, they're slightly older, but their work is no less absurd. Get to know these two co-writers, co-directors and performers before catching them (and third member of the company, Teddy Spencer) in William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged)!
Austin and Reed Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin

1. What's the one Shakespearean character you'd want to play? 

Austin Tichenor: I play Falstaff briefly in William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged), but I'd love to play him for real in either parts of Henry IV or The Merry Wives of Windsor!

Reed Martin: Scar from The Lion King. That counts right? It's based on Hamlet!

2. Tell us how you first met (abridged)!

RM: Austin and I met as students in the Drama Department at the University of California at Berkeley around 1981. We performed in a couple of shows together and stayed in touch over the years. 

AT: I think our first meeting was in a very absurd college production of Ionesco's Jack, or The Submission around 1981. My dad's question after the performance was, "Now why would you want to be in something like that?"

RM: I joined the Reduced Shakespeare Company in 1989 and when there was a cast opening in 1992, I suggested that we ask Austin to join the company.


Austin Tichenor Austin Tichenor as Falstaff
3. How do you create work together? Do you live near each other? 

AT: We both grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and were in the University of California at Berkeley's drama department together. While Reed still lives there, I live in Chicago, but I still visit my family out there.

RM: We spend a fair amount of time together on the road. We're in contact almost every day via email, phone, FaceTime or Skype. When we're creating a new show we spend a lot of time trying to settle on the subject matter. It needs to be something that we are both interested in and passionate about. The subject also needs to appeal to all the places to which we tour, both in the USA and around the world. 

We outline the show together and then write the scenes separately. We come together to read the new material, usually when we're on tour together. Then, we sometimes rewrite our own material and other times we rewrite each other's material. After about nine months and many drafts we have a version of the script that we bring into rehearsals. We rehearse for about six weeks, making changes and doing rewrites every day. And then we put it on its feet in front of an audience. The audience is like another collaborator. We listen to how the audience responds and make changes accordingly.

4. Describe what it's like to juggle so many characters. Do you ever wish you could trade with each other? 

RM: When we start to rehearse a new show sometimes the characters aren't very distinct, but over the rehearsal period they become clear. The toughest thing is all the quick costumes changes. There's a fascinating, fully-choreographed show backstage involving props and costume changes that the audience never sees.

AT: Part of the fun is the juggling! Making each character distinct and funny is a great challenge and one of the reasons I wanted to be an actor. 

RM:  I wouldn't want to trade parts with Austin. He has to play the ukulele onstage every show and I know how tough that is. I have played the accordion in a number of Reduced Shakespeare Company shows. If you stumble over a line you can usually cover it, but everybody can hear when you play a sour note.


Reed Martin Reed Martin as Puck
AT: I usually don't want to play Reed's roles because he's very physical and I'm very lazy. But we both play Falstaff in this production—audiences can decide #WhoWoreItBetter.

5. What is the strangest space you've performed in? 

RM: One time we performed an excerpt from our Complete History of America (abridged) at The White House on the Fourth of July. It was surreal and awesome.

AT: I played the Prince of Aragon in a production of The Merchant of Venice in a bar in Chicago. The audience had been drinking, so they heckled me. I had to change my lines to deal with them and they all applauded me on my exit. It was fantastic.

6. You've been at The New Victory a few times now, what makes you excited about this particular go-around? 

AT: It's always exciting to be back at the New Vic! The history of the building is so amazing, it's a privilege to be speaking Shakespeare's words—even his long lost first words—on this stage!

RM: This is our third time at the New Vic and we love it! The reaction to William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged) around the world has been spectacular and we can't wait to share it with the audiences at the New Vic. The show is a love letter to Shakespeare, to theater and to first plays by all young playwrights.

Photos: Teresa Wood
Long Lost First Play Thumb That's right, the "Bad Boys of Abridgement" are back! Uproarious and rapid-fire, the Reduced Shakespeare Company makes sharp, short comedy in their latest sendup, spinning the Bard's 39 plays into a fast, funny and fictional 40th. Get your tickets today!

Posted by Beth Henderson

Give yourself a Shakespearean look, play a "Bard Game" with family and friends and put your own twist on some Shakespearean classics in this Family Activity for William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged)! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past Family Activities here on our blog and at

Ruff Around the Edges

In this activity, you'll create your very own look inspired by the Bard himself. 

Materials: Coffee filters, stapler, scissors, hole punch, string

Step One: Measure your string so that it comfortably fits around your neck with a little bit of room. 

Step Two: Fold your coffee filter in half and then fold it in half again. 

Making the Ruff

Making the Ruff

Step Three: Staple the side that isn't ruffly, approximately 1.5 inches from the edge.

Making the Ruff

Step Four: Make a hole using your hole punch or scissors on the bottom corner of your filter, below the staple. 

Making the Ruff

Step Five: Cut off the pointy bottom of the folded coffee filter 

Making the Ruff

Step Six: You will repeat steps one to five as many times as it takes to fill the string around your neck with coffee filters. Think of it like making a necklace! Loop all of your folded coffee filters onto your string and tie the string around your neck. Fluff out the ruff, and tada! You're ready to write your next play. You could even wear your new ruff to William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged)!

Making the Ruff

Making the Ruff

The Bard Game

This is a game made of mini-Shakespearean challenges that are very similar to games that you already know and love. Get ready to challenge with your family, using your wit and imagination!

Materials: Bard Game Template, game cards, scissors, timer

Step One: Print out the following The Bard Game

Create your own cards for the "Who Am I?" and "How Many Can You Name?" challenges. Fill these in with your own ideas.

Step Two: Learn how to play the game and create your cards.

Game Rules: 
  • This is a two player game. Once completed, the next player can challenge the winner! The youngest player begins the game.
  • The first player moves to the first place and plays the mini challenge indicated on the space.
  • If you win the mini game, you move forward. If you do not win, then you stay to try again during your next turn.
  • The first player to get to the end wins.
Mini Challenge Rules:

Who Am I?
  • Set your timer for 60 seconds.
  • Pick up a card and place it on your forehead (no peeking!)
  • The other player gives you clues about which Shakespearean character is on your card. They're not allowed to rhyme the name or spell it out.
  • If you guess it before the 60 seconds are up, move to the next space!
How Many Can You Name?
  • Set your timer for 60 seconds.
  • Pick a card and read the number and category written on it. Then, list subjects from the category. How many? As many as the card indicates! Imagine that it says "six heroines." You would then list six of Shakespeare's heroines—Beatrice, Hero, Juliet, Portia, Titania and Viola
  • If you can name the amount written on the card, move forward!
  • Each player gets a card.
  • Set your timer for 60 seconds and begin the battle. The player whose turn it is goes second in this challenge.
  • Players must explain why and how their character will win a duel with the other, based on creative thinking and the information on the card. 
  • The one with the most believable story is victorious!
  • EXAMPLE: I pull up a Juliet: Poison card. My opponent pulls a Hamlet: Knife card. My opponent argues that Hamlet would win over Juliet, because of his weapon. I will argue that Juliet poisoned him before the duel even began!
Step Three: Challenge your family and friends. 

Say It Like You Meme It
In this activity you will read some quotes from Shakespeare's best known plays and put your own twist on them.

Step One: Pick one of the following Shakespearean quotes

Quote Bank: 

"To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;"
—Hamlet, Hamlet

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."
—Polonius, Hamlet

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."
—Macbeth, Macbeth

"My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go."
—King Claudius, Hamlet

"Ay me, for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth,
But either it was different in blood—"
—Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind."
—Helena, A Midsummer Night's Dream

"One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
Ne'er saw her match since first the world begun"
—Romeo, Romeo and Juliet

"Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow."
—Juliet, Romeo and Juliet

Step Two: Move around the word order or add some words of your own to completely change the meaning.

Real Quote: "Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow." Juliet, Romeo and Juliet
New Quote: "Night, night! Partying is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say night night till it be morrow."

Step Three: Think of a character from any of your favorite books, movies or TV series saying the new quote you just created. Search an image of that character, save it and put into this meme generator with the new quote your created. How much did the quote change now? 

Long Lost First Play Thumb That's right, the "Bad Boys of Abridgement" are back! Uproarious and rapid-fire, the Reduced Shakespeare Company makes sharp, short comedy in their latest sendup, spinning the Bard's 39 plays into a fast, funny and fictional 40th. Get your tickets today!

Posted by Beth Henderson
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