'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)' in ABQ

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abrig’d) hits Albuquerque Little Theatre

From left, Daniel Cornish, Ryan Jason Cook and Caleb Ramsell are the three actors in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” (Courtesy of Albuquerque Little Theatre)

Clear your schedule as of next Friday. “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” returns to the Albuquerque Little Theatre at 224 San Pasquale Ave. SW.

This version includes all three actors from the 2013 production with Ryan Jason Cook, Caleb Ramsell and Daniel Cornish.

“A lot of us have done this show before and now it’s just a matter of updating all the jokes,” Cook said. “We’ve known each other for 19 years and now, this will be our fourth time doing it together, so we have a really tight bond.”

This bond helps them improvise without fail.

“Because we know how each other works, we know how the cadence of our beats and our minds work,” Cook said. “I think it’s really beneficial that we can go with each other wherever that person has, so even though there’s a lot of improv, we’re not ever gonna throw each other off, because we can read each other on stage.”

Daniel Cornish and Ryan Jason Cook appear in “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” (Courtesy of Albuquerque Little Theatre)

Cook and company are tasked with covering all 37 Shakespeare plays in 97 minutes, including the comedies, histories and tragedies.

“Our tagline is, ‘Three actors, 37 plays, 97 minutes’ and it is just fast-paced in there are times where we spend too much time covering one play,” Cook said. “So now we gotta be faster on this next one and we’ll combine them together into like a big story.”

With so much improv, it is hard to choose a favorite scene.

“Wowzers, you know, what’s special about this show is that it really depends on how the audience reacts that will determine the power behind each of those performances,” Cook said. “I mean, I really enjoyed doing ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Hamlet’ is a lot of fun, plus they are both very heavy with the energy that comes from the audience to derive those things.”

After doing this play a few times, Cook gained a new respect for Shakespeare.

“It wasn’t that I wasn’t a fan or not, but I just had never really gotten into Shakespeare,” Cook said. “As a young actor, I looked at Shakespeare as holy cow, like, the language is so different and you’ve got to have that cadence and that understanding.”

Cook’s perspective all changed during Y2K.

“But then I did this show in 2000 and I had to do a bunch of research, and a lot of it was very daunting, but it gave me a different understanding of Shakespeare,” Cook said. “I think for me, doing this show helped me have a new understanding of what Shakespeare brought to the table as a writer and a creative person.”

Caleb Ramsell , left, and Ryan Jason Cook will perform 37 plays in 97 minutes as part of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” at Albuquerque Little Theatre. (Courtesy of Albuquerque Little Theatre)

Though Shakespeare’s influence on writing and music is obvious, folks who do not like Shakespeare will also have a swell time.

“You don’t have to know Shakespeare or even like Shakespeare to enjoy this production,” Cook said. “There are a lot of really intense Shakespearean moments that we play very seriously, that will tie to the person who loves Shakespeare, and then there’s a lot of times where we’re making fun of or kind of spoofing.”

Each version of this show is different from the last.

“It is different every time because a lot of it is improv and a lot of transitions are made up on the spot based on how the audience is reacting and what they give us,” Cook said. “So even if you came and saw it twice, or three times, you’re going to pick up different things.”

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