Oct. 27, 2001 – Flush with raves from its opening weekend, Pistarckle Theater's first production of the 2001-02 season, "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)," continues with performances Thursday and Friday, and then the Fridays and Saturdays of Nov. 9-10 and 16-17.
As the title suggests, the show is a "Best of the Bard" compendium in a one-night stand that's strictly for laughs. "From the opening send-up of 'Romeo and Juliet,'" Pistarckle producer Nicola Emerich says, the actors "continue through all of the plays in rapid order, performing 'Othello' as a rap song, 'Titus Andronicus' as a cooking show, the comedies as a football game and 'Hamlet' as a show-ending, audience-participation extravaganza — all the while staying somewhat true to the Bard's original words."
That's a total of 38 plays, for anyone who's counting, and "it's a real screaming comedy," Emerich adds. "It's a great introduction to Shakespeare for young people — little kids may not catch all the words, but it's very physical, with lots of pratfalls."
A total of three actors — plus a life-size dummy they use when in need of a fourth — carry the night. Trudy Tucker is a veteran Pistarckle actor and director known for her comedic bent. The other two are not familiar faces to Pistarckle theatergoers — although that is about to change.
Peter Schiron, a lawyer with Dudley Topper and Feuerzeig, relocated to St. Thomas from Colorado less than a year ago with some solid acting experience in his baggage. He "walked into the theater last fall and said he had just moved here and wanted to be on the board," Emerich recalls. (His wish was granted.) "He actually suggested this play."
Scottie Brower is a former New York actor who arrived on island about eight months ago. He was "discovered" by Pistarckle actor Dena Benson "at a yard sale in Peterborg," Emerich says. "They got to talking, and she found out he's an actor, and she told him to come to the next audition." He did.
"The Complete Works," a hit in Britain, is touring the U.S. mainland now, "so we didn't think we would be able to get the rights," Emerich says. "But because we're remote — a good thing in this case — we were able to do it."
The work got major exosure on the Public Broadcasting System and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. last March under the title "Reduced Shakespeare." It's a fast, funny and physical condensation of things serious, a style the Reduced Shakespeare Company of Lowell, Mass., developed as a pass-the-hat act at Renaissance Faires in California in the 1980s.
These folks also have given the entertainment world "The Complete History of America (abridged)," "The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)" and "The Complete Millennium Musical (abridged)." And lest you think these are flights of tangential theater fluff, consider this: "Shakespeare" and "America" hold the record for the longest-running theatrical comedies in London. And "Shakespeare" sold out the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
For a look at the company that created the play, check out the Reduced Shakespeare Company web site. For the Source review by student Lane Sell of the local production, see "Get thee to Pistarckle!"
All Pistarckle performances start at 8 p.m. in the theater in Tillett Gardens.
General admission tickets are $19 at the door and $15 in advance (outlets are Bumpa's, East End Secretarial Service, Tillett Gallery and the V.I. Charter Yacht League). Tickets for students with I.D. are $10, discounted to $5 for groups of 10 or more.
It's still possible to purchase a season subscription package — a ticket to each of the season's three performances — for $40. The other two plays to be produced are the Moss Hart/George S. Kaufman classic "You Can't Take It With You," opening Jan. 10, and Neil Simon's "Rumors," opening Feb. 28.
The final "Complete Works" performance, on Saturday, Nov. 17, will include a "dessert closing party" catered by Frank's Bakery. There's no additional charge for the sweet treats, which will probably be served at intermission, Emerich says.
For reservations and more information, call 775-7877.

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