Richard III Starring … Chicken Little?

One of the missions of this site was originally to spot and document Shakespeare references in the wild, no matter how trivial (as long as they were at least interesting and not cliche, that is). Here’s one that may take the cake. In this week’s podcast episode of This American Life, entitled “Poultry Slam” and focusing on the theme of, well, poultry, comes the story of Chicken Little … The Opera.
That is correct. Someone’s taken the “sky is falling” story and transformed it into an opera. In Italian, even. Oh, but did I mention that it is acted out by finger puppets? The opera actually tells the life story of Chicken Little, who at one point pulls a Sarah Bernhardt and games fame and notoriety for her Shakespeare. “Juliet? Cleopatra? Ophelia?” asks host Ira Glass.
No. Richard III.
“You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a 4 inch high finger puppet of a duck calling for a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse,” says Ira. “In Italian.” (Unfortunately this is radio, so we don’t see it – and the snippets that we get do not apparently include the Richard III sequence.)
Fair Warning #1 : To get to this story, which I believe was Act 3 (in the middle), you have to sit through what is assuredly the most annoying story they’ve ever done about two college girls who talk to each other in this annoying duck voice. It was just awful. You know how families have “had to be there” jokes that everybody gets, even though the root of the joke goes back 20 years? Yeah, imagine some genius getting the idea to broadcast that joke to a national audience, and having to listen to it told by two girls who still think it’s funny.
Fair Warning #2 : This may be the only time in your life that you’ll hear Ira Glass say the words, “She waves it at the flaccid cock, but the cock does not rise.” Remember, this is a show about chickens. 😉

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