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The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)

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The Bible 11LTheatre Conspiracy continues its 21st anniversary season with the The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) (abridged) by Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor. The show opens January 3, 2015 at the Foulds Theatre inside the Alliance for the Arts. Individual tickets are $22 each. Student tickets are $11. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with one Sunday matinee on January 18 at 2 p.m.  (The The Bible 03Lother dates are January 8, 9, 10, 15, 16 , 17, 22, 23 and 24.) Thursdays are “buy one get one half off” and opening night on January 3 is “pay what you will”, you name the ticket price! Season subscriptions are also available. You can buy the remaining 5 SHOWS FOR $90 ($18 per ticket) or just 4 SHOWS FOR: $80 ($20 per ticket). Tickets can be purchased by calling Theatre Conspiracy’s box office at 239-936-3239 or by visiting www.theatreconspiracy.org.

On this page you will find stories about the playwrights, actors and this “wonderfully wacky” production itself.

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Theatre Conspiracy’s ‘Bible’ moving to Fort Myers Beach for two special performances (01-13-15)

Publicity Shot 01Theatre Conspiracy’s hilarious production of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) is moving to Fort Myers Beach. The production will play for two performances only at 8 p.m. on January 30 and 31 at St. Raphael’s Church Parish Hall, 5601 Williams Drive.

Whether you are Catholic or Atheist, Muslim or Jew, Protestant or Purple People Eater, you will be The Bible 07Ltickled by this romp through old time religion. The Bible is an affectionate, irreverent rollercoaster ride from fig leaves to Final Judgment as Theatre Conspiracy tackles the great theological questions: Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston? And why isn’t the word “phonetic” spelled the way it sounds?

Jordan Wilson, Christopher Brent and Miguel Cintron play all of the biblical characters cavorting through both the Old and New Testaments. Swearing (not on the Bible) to make the “inexplicable plicable,” they launch into irreverent sketches chock full of music, puns, slapstick, magic tricks and hundreds The Bible 03Lof anachronisms. Between the three actors, they cover sixty-two characters, including Moses, three not-so-wise men, the twelve apostles and a few dubious saints.

Tickets for the Beach performances of the show are $15 and can be purchased by calling Theatre Conspiracy’s box office at 239-936-3239 or by visiting www.theatreconspiracy.org.

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Actor Manny Quinn turns in cold, lifeless performance in Theatre Conspiracy’s ‘Bible’ (01-12-15)

Bows 01Every now and then it becomes necessary to write a bad review, and such is the sad but necessary case regarding the performance recently maled in by Manny Quinn in The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). Regrettably, Quinn’s performance was cold, stiff, lifeless and uninspired, which is curious since he is reprising the role he made famous in Theatre Conspiracy’s previous production of the show and given his Bows 02excellent work in other Theatre Conspiracy productions.

Quinn made his Theatre Conspiracy debut to rave reviews as The Dead Body in It’s Your Funeral. He followed that with appearances in two productions of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged), playing memorable characters The Bible 08Lincluding The Dead Dude and The Dummy. Manny Quinn then went on to star in All the Great Books (abridged), where he earned the nicknames of “Body Double” and “Punching Bag.”

Although they had enjoyed their previous work with Quinn, fellow cast mates Christopher Brent, Miguel Cintron and Jordan Wilson could offer no explanation for Manny’s listless performance and The Bible 09Lcomplete inability to deliver his lines. “Whatever’s going on with Manny, you can rule out drugs and alcohol,” they insisted, having his back. “However, he just hasn’t been the same since his bitter break-up with his ex-wife, Rose. She really messed with Manny’s head when she left him for that player, Charlie Harper.”

Not even director Rachael Endrizzi could get The Bible 11LManny to sit up and take notice or listen to her instructions and recommendations. “All he seems to want to do is lay around like an old rug,” huffed a clearly frustrated Endrizzi.

Quinn seems unfazed and is looking forward during his off time to playing dress up, riding with his friends in the HOV lane, and scaring people in the dark. But Quinn apparently realizes he was not up to snuff in The Bible. He declined requests for interviews and refused to pose for publicity shots.

The Bible runs through January 24, 2015. See above for dates, times and ticket information.

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Meet ‘Bible’ star Jordan Wilson (01-11-15)

Publicity Shot 01Born and raised in Southwest Florida, Jordan Wilson has performed over the years in numerous Theatre Conspiracy productions. His most recent conspired works include Deadman’s Cell Phone, The Nerd, Becky’s New Car, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and Swell Party.

The self-deprecating actor describes himself as The Publicity Shot 02Bible’s buffoon. If you are looking for a parallel, Jordan Wilson is to The Bible what Oliver Hudson is to the 2007-2013 sitcom Rules of Engagement. Sensitive, well-intentioned but a little naïve Jordan’s character is not the smartest Bible teacher who will ever take to the pulpit. In fact, Jordan confesses to only flipping through the pictures in the children’s illustrated version of the good book. But he brings to the production The Bible 09Lsomething neither Christopher Brent nor Miguel Cintron could, or more to the point, would do. You see, Jordan played all the female characters.

Not that there were all that many. Alas, as the actors are wont to point out, The Bible was not an apology for women’s rights or a woman’s right to choose. But that doesn’t trouble Jordan (the character), who’s just happy to be part of the antics.

The Bible runs through January 24, 2015. See above for dates, times and ticket information.

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Meet ‘Bible’ star Miguel Cintron (01-10-15)

MiguelLMiguel Cintron’s only hesitation in playing himself in Theatre Conspiracy’s current production of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) was wearing a man thong in the opening scene. “I don’t exactly have the body for it,” he explains nodding his head toward trim cast mates Christopher Brent and Jordan Wilson. “Plus, I have students and I couldn’t risk having them come to the show and see me in, well, a bikini. You don’t come back from something like that. But fortunately [director] Rachael [Endrizzi] came up with a alternative I could live with.” A costume in the shape of an apple instead of a miniscule fig leaf.

Audience Participation 02Cintron was also concerned about another part of the script. The circus scene. “There’s just one problem. I can’t juggle, and the script says to just cut the circus scene if you can’t juggle. But we didn’t want to do that because Jordan comes out on this small bike and it’s hilarious. So we opted to make fun of the fact that I can’t juggle, with me getting all mad instead, and that made it funny. At least I think it worked out well tonight.”

And that’s Miguel’s shtick in The Bible. “I’m known as the one who gets angry all the time.” The Bible 05Like when Chris and Jordan won’t let  him tell the story of Noah’s Ark. It pays to have a chip on your shoulder sometimes. At least if you’re Miguel Cintron and you are playing yourself.

Miguel wasn’t in The Bible the last time it was produced by Theatre Conspiracy, but he did play himself opposite Jordan Wilson in The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged). His most recent Theatre Conspiracy performance was in Tower of Magic. Some of Miguel’s favorite Conspiracy performances include Domestic Tranquility, End of Audience Participation 07the World Button, My First Time, Shipwrecked, and Art of Murder. Miguel has also performed at The Herb Strauss Theater, The Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre,  and Florida Repertory Theatre in performances such as Into the Woods, Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Lucky Stiff, Funny Money, Buddy, Run for Your Wife and The Bows 02Fantasticks.

And what’s Miguel’s favorite Bible story? Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors. Of course.

The Bible runs through January 24. See above for days, times and ticket information.

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Meet ‘Bible’ star Christopher Brent (01-09-15)

Chris ThreeChristopher Brent is thrilled to be reprising the role of “himself” in Theatre Conspiracy’s current production of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). He has also played “himself” in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and All the Great Books (abridged). His acting career has spanned more than two decades, most of which has been spent on Southwest Florida stages. A graduate of New York City’s AMDA (as is director Rachael Endrizzi), some of his favorite recent roles include Alex Hammond in The Nerd, Leslie in It Runs in the Family, Gavin in Caught in the Net, an ugly stepsister in Cinderella Chris tooand as Captain Braidbeard/Sharktooth in two separate productions of the children’s show How I Became a Pirate.

Chris is the brains of The Bible in the tradition of Moe from The Three Stooges. “I’m the normal one,” he claims unabashedly (as director Rachael Endrizzi laughs in the background, clarifying, Chris“Yeah, out of the three”). “I’m known all around town for being level headed,” he continues in spite of the guffaws and chortles emanating from fellow actors Miguel Cintron and Jordan Wilson. But it’s clear that all three like and respect each other, which is almost a prerequisite for a cast performing anything written by playwrights Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor.

“The script allows the director and actors to add material,” Chris explains. “You think of funny stuff as you go along. Like the first five rehearsals was The Bible 13Lus being us … trying to one up each other.” Because they have known each other for years and performed together before, they can anticipate what each other are going to day or do. The chemistry comes across during the show.

When asked if he has a favorite Bible story, Chris had a little trouble choosing just one. “Daniel in the Lion’s Den. No, wait. David and Goliath. But I also like the Book of Psalms and the Book of Revelations.” Talk about ying and yang. But then again he’s the son of a preacher, so Chris draws a pass on his Biblical indecision.

The Bible runs through January 24. See above for days, times and ticket information.

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Meet ‘Bible’ director Rachael Endrizzi (01-08-15)

Rachael 01On stage now in the Foulds Theatre at the Alliance for the Arts is The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) (abridged) by Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor. Rachael Endrizzi has taken a sabbatical from her duties running a children’s theater in Atlanta to direct the production. “When [Artistic Director] Bill Taylor told me that Theatre Conspiracy was doing The Bible again, I knew I had to direct,” Rachael laughs. “It’s a homecoming for me,” adds Endrizzi, who directed the last three productions of the Tichenor-Long-Martin trilogy, The Bible, All the Great Books and The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged).

Endrizzi also worked alongside Dick Westlake on the 2007 product of The Bible 07LThe Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) and directed the remounted show a few years later, as well as All the Great Books (Abridged). Christopher Brent, Miguel Cintron and Jordan Wilson have starred in these previous performances, and have come to regard Endrizzi as their “big sister.”

The show went into production December 3, with Rachael moving back to Fort Myers to work with Brent, Cintron and Wilson each evening. “I did go back to Atlanta Christmas week,” Rachael confesses, but she came back prior to New Year’s Eve to put the finishing touches on the production prior to the January 3 opening.

Audience Participation 02It’s been a rewarding experience in many ways. “The play is supposed to look as if it’s not really rehearsed … as if the actors are flying by the seat of their pants and making it all up as they go along.” But to achieve that result, the actors must not only have their lines down pat, they have to completely understand the playwrights’ intent. Only then can they truly ad lib to the point where they can add impromptu jokes or select props that put an unexpected twist on the script. “Rehearsals turned into Second City improve sessions, and because Audience Participation 03we’ve all worked together before, the were few barriers between us that prevented us from speaking our minds and trying out jokes and bits without fear or inhibition.”

Another challenge that Endrizzi and her troupe of actors had to overcome was rehearsing a play that presupposes quite a bit of audience participation Audience Participation 04without the benefit of an audience. “We were constantly guessing what type of response or the number or type of volunteers we were going to get without really knowing for sure,” Rachael explains. From that vantage, each play is an adventure that requires the actors to adapt to the nature and intensity of the audience participation.

That type of experience fosters even greater bonding and camaraderie, and the resulting chemistry comes across during the performance. Rather than actors doing a performance, Brent, Cintron and Wilson come Bows 03across as three good friends who are really trying to give an ill-conceived Bible lesson. In fact, they use their real first names to foster that feeling.

While Endrizzi has certainly built a resume directing this and previous productions of The Bible, All the Great Books and The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), she has directed a number of other productions as well. A Rachael 02graduate of New York City’s AMDA, Rachael’s other directing credits include Red Herring and Shipwrecked for Theatre Conspiracy, Florida Rep’s Conservatory, touring shows and camp productions and, most recently, Freud’s Last Session with The Strauss Theater on Sanibel. And with any luck, Southwest Florida audiences haven’t seen the last of Endrizzi.

See above for dates, times and ticket information.

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Theatre Conspiracy’s ‘Bible’ is a laugh riot (01-06-15)

The Bible 01About this time last year, the Reduced Shakespeare Company was set to perform The Bible: The Complete Word Of God (abridged) at the Theatre At The Mill in Newtownabbey, Ireland. But a week before the opening, the show was pulled from the schedule at the theatre when Newtownabbey Borough Councillor Billy Ball claimed the play makes a mockery of the Bible and The Bible 02Christianity. That prompted playwright Austin Tichenor to remark that “Reduced Shakespeare fans are Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, black, white, gay, straight, brown, yellow… I mean we have fans from all over the world and from every part of life. And they together to celebrate the Bible through laughter. That seems like the best thing in the world and so for people to say it is an attack, I reject that idea.”

MiguelLAs do Christopher Brent, Miguel Cintron and Jordan Wilson, who star in Theatre Conspiracy’s production of The Bible, which opened on January 3. And if anyone should be offended by a script that pokes fun at the Old and New Testaments, it should be Brent and Cintron. Both are preacher’s sons. “Although my first thought as I read the script for the very first time was that there’s no way I’m gonna let my dad come and see the show,” they said in one voice after last Saturday’s opening.

“I think it’s okay to poke fun at the Bible, especially The Bible 04the Old Testament, but I was a little scared that Act Two might be a bit sacrilegious,” Brent added after a moment. “When you start getting into the Jesus stuff, I didn’t think my dad would appreciate it.” But then something happened to change Chris’ mind.

“We did the show six years ago and a theology professor from FGCU happened to come see the The Bible 05show,” he explains. “He liked it so much and how accurate it was that he gave his students extra credit to come see the show too. And that’s a professor of theology.”

Brent concedes that he hasn’t read the good book from cover to cover, but he’s probably covered 80% of the books in both testaments. Miguel knows his way around The Bible too. “I’ve flipped through the children’s illustrated version,” Jordan Wilson chimes in, reprising a line from the play.

The Bible 08L“I’m naturally a buffoon,” the self-deprecating Jordan adds, so [my part in the play] seemed like it was written for me.” If you are looking for a parallel, Jordan Wilson is to The Bible what Oliver Hudson is to the 2007-2013 sitcom Rules of Engagement. Sensitive, well-intentioned but a little naïve Jordan’s character is not the sharpest tool in Noah’s Ark.  But he’s a perfect foil in a The Bible 09Lproduction that is filled with slapstick, vaudeville and stand up comedy.

Setting matters of religiosity aside, The Bible suffers from only one flaw. The humor is so fast-paced that the audience often finds itself laughing over the ensuing joke. But before they can lean over and ask “What did he just say?” there’s another joke or comical bit, and the laughter starts all over again.

The Bible 11LYes, The Bible is really THAT funny.

And it’s not all old time religion. The playwrights have given the director and actors who perform The Bible the creative license to add jokes containing biting social and political commentary ripped from the headlines of today’s newspapers. (Okay, nobody under 60 reads newspapers anymore, at least not in print format.) Of course, The Bible 13Lbecause the political jokes poke a bit of good natured fun at conservatives and Republicans, they don’t resonate with more than half of the audience most nights. In fact, lasst Saturday, some of those prods landed with a resounding thud. “It’s good when [that happens],” Chris observes. “The audience is also a character in this production. The script allows us to interact with the audience, so when a joke doesn’t land, we can just drop it and go on or we can interact with the audience and comment on the fact that the joke missed the mark.”

The Bible 14In fact, the script gives the director and actors the latitude to add current social and political content to the production. “One of the best things about the script is that it gives the actors in a lot of places the opportunity to take creative license,” Chris observes.

“Which is fortunate,” adds Miguel, “because I can’t juggle.” The three playwrights are actually circus performers and included a circus bit in the script. “The script says that if you can’t juggle, then just cut the circus scene. But we didn’t want to do that because when Jordan comes out on the small bike it’s hilarious. So we opted to make the bit fail on purpose and poke fun at the fact that I can’t juggle.”

Miguel is right. The bit is hysterical. The entire two-hour, two-act production is a rib-splitting, tears-running-down-the-cheeks laugh riot. So don’t be fobbed off by the austere-sounding title. Remember, God has a sense of humor too. Just look around.

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Meet ‘Bible’ playwrights Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin and Adam Long (01-02-15)

BibleAustin Tichenor, Reed Martin and Adam Long wrote The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) in 1995. Since then it has been performed all over the world both by the trio’s pass-the-hat acting troupe, the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and theater groups like Theatre Conspiracy.

Tichenor is a fifth-generation Californian born,” according to bible 3Reduced Shakespeare’s website, “on the 54th anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake and the 185th anniversary of Paul Revere’s Ride, which makes him older than he looks but short for his weight. Since his debut writing and performing his boldly conceived kindergarten puppet show, Austin’s interest in sticking his hands up the backsides of interesting characters continues to this day. An intellectual welterweight, Austin remains disappointingly average despite three very expensive degrees (two from UC Berkeley and one from Boston University).”

For seven seasons, he served as Associate Producing Director of the American Stage Festival in Milford, NH, writing over 20 plays and musicals for young audiences, as well as directing summer-stocky things like The Foreigner and Jesus Christ Superstar. His productions there of A Christmas Carol and Frankenstein (for which he wrote a stage adaptation) and Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest (which he directed) were seen by literally dozens of people. Fortunately, children’s theatre, summer-stock Shakespeare and puppets proved to be the ideal training ground for the RSC, which he joined in 1992.

Austin created the roles of The Conspirator Guy, Moses, Adolph Hitler, the World’s Ugliest Rhinemaiden, Don Quixote, Lucas Butch Cassidy Rowdy Rooster Sundance Jennifer McShane, ‘Scoop’ Tichenor, and King Herod in the Complete (abridged) shows he also co-wrote. He’s performed his own material on the BBC, NPR, and England’s Channel 4. Other writings have appeared in The Independent newspaper in London, the Washington Post, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The New York Times Book Review, “and the men’s room wall of Spenger’s Fish Grotto in Berkeley, California.” As an actor, Austin played recurring roles on 24, Alias, Felicity, Ally McBeal, and The Practice, as well as guest starring as Guys In Ties in many hours of episodic television. With Reed Martin, he also co-created and co-starred in the TBS pilot The Week Reduced.

Tichenor, Long and Martin come from a variety of religious backgrounds and practices. “We were all born into the Christian tradition,” says Tichenor. “Adam has at one point described himself as a Jew-Buddh-olic, a Jewish Buddhist Catholic. Both Reed and I married Catholics. Reed’s wife is an observant Catholic and my wife isn’t, though we both got married in Catholic ceremonies.”

Austin himself possesses a heartwarming spirituality and a delightful suspicion of organized religion. “Over the years, I’ve been an Agnostic (lapsed), a Pantheist (reformed), and now consider myself a Utilitarian – I believes in God when it’s useful,” he notes on the Reduced Shakespeare website. “This theological confusion is described in my comic memoir (written with Reed Martin) called How The Bible Changed Our Lives (Mostly For The Better), available as an e-book at blaspheming online bookstores everywhere.”

“Reed is a regular church goer,” Tichenor continues. “His parents were born-again Christians. His father, who just recently died, loved the show. It was his favorite of our shows because, in his mind, it was celebratory of Christianity.

bible 5 reedReed Martin is a graduate of UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, the Bill Kinnamon School of Professional Umpire Training and Clown College. He has performed in 46 states and 11 foreign countries, including New Jersey. Prior to joining the RSC in 1989, he was a clown with Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus where he spent two years frightening children and smelling elephants. He lives in Northern California with his wife and two sons, all three of whom are much funnier than he is. Reed feels strongly that toilet paper should be fed over the top of the roll. (For a more extensive and less amusing bio, click here.)

bible 4. longjpgAdam Long is not only a writer, but Reduced Shakespeare’s founding member. He began his professional life as an accountant for an anti-nuclear political action committee by day and bassist for an acoustic punk band by night.  Then he put on a skirt and wig and became a founding member of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Adam toured with the RSC, spent five years following The Grateful Dead, performed stand-up comedy in Canada, became a Buddhist, and finally settled in England where he lives in bible 2London with wife Alex, son Joe, daughter Tilly, friend John, four guinea pigs, a fish, two tortoises, a cat, and a small grey rabbit called Willard.

“[The Bible] is actually the least offensive of all of our shows,” Tichenor claims. “We set out to reduce a very large topic that people take seriously. That is the point of what we do. We take large topics, that people take seriously, and turn them into short and silly celebrations.”

All three prefer comedy with a bite. “I also prefer when I go to see a drama that there is some laughs in it, because that’s life,” Tichenor adds. “Life has comedy and drama in it at the same time. Absurdity. Inconsistency. That’s life.”

Theatre Conspiracy’s production of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) opens January 3. See above for dates, times and ticket information.

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Theatre Conspiracy’s ‘Bible’ is theatrical romp through old time religion (12-26-14)

The Bible 07LWhether you are Catholic or Atheist, Muslim or Jew, Protestant or Purple People Eater, you will be tickled by Theatre Conspiracy’s romp through old time religion. An affectionate, irreverent roller coaster ride from fig leaves to Final Judgment, The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) tackles the great theological questions of our time: Did Adam and Eve have navels? Did Moses really look like Charlton Heston? And why isn’t the word “phonetic” spelled the way it sounds?

Jordan Wilson, Christopher Brent and Miguel Cintron play all of the biblical characters cavorting through both the Old and The Bible 11LNew Testaments. Swearing (not on the Bible) to make the “inexplicable plicable,” they launch into irreverent sketches chock full of music, puns, slapstick, magic tricks and hundreds of anachronisms. Between the three actors, they cover sixty-two characters, including Moses, three not-so-wise men, the twelve apostles and a few dubious saints. See above for dates, times and ticket information.

 

 

 

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