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Shake it Up

Julie Chernoff | November 2, 2017 | Feature Features National

Author, actor, director and podcaster Austin Tichenor goes for the Shakespeare trifecta this holiday season.
Fittingly, The Garden Club of Evanston's Shakespeare Garden provided the setting for Austin Tichenor's composed portrait.

Glencoe’s Austin Tichenor has a lot on his plate these days, and he’s loving it. He’s been writing and acting with the Reduced Shakespeare Company for 25 years; has a new book out, Pop-Up Shakespeare ($20, Candlewick Press); produces a weekly podcast; and this month opens in the Northlight Theatre production of Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will. Nov. 9-Dec. 17, tickets $30-$70

Appearing in this show must be quite a gift for the holidays! What’s it about?
This is a comedy about the creation of First Folio, the first collection of all of Shakespeare’s plays, without which we wouldn’t have Macbeth or Twelfth Night or Much Ado About Nothing. I play William Jaggard, the blind, Scrooge-like printer of First Folio, and I also play the great actor Richard Burbage, who originated the roles of Hamlet, King Lear, Richard III and Othello. It’s a great idea for a play; it’s not only a celebration of Shakespeare, but also a celebration of theater.

Sounds right up your alley!
It’s just so in my wheelhouse! The fun part of Shakespeare is not just the characters, but the language—to dive into that language, to luxuriate in it. It’s so lovely to have those words rolling around in your mouth. And one of the great things about The Book of Will is that Lauren not only has quotations from Shakespeare in there, but also has all the characters of that time speaking in a kind of approximation of Shakespearean language that feels very rich and literate and wonderful.

Where does your podcast fit in to all of this Shakespearean activity?
The podcast started in December 2006 as an extra for our RSC fans, but it’s become a real chronicle of not only what it’s like to be traveling actors, but a source of interviews with amazing artists that I meet from all around the world—playwrights, actors, directors, authors, comedians, musicians—recorded in green rooms, coffee shops, living rooms and theaters, and I haven’t missed one yet. I’m devoted to producing it every week!


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