Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
I first read this play either at school or at university - at any event, so long ago that I can no longer remember when - and it made me a fan of Tom Stoppards work. Since that time Ive seen productions of a number of his plays, including Arcadia (one of all time favourite pieces of theatre), Travesties and Rock n Roll. However, until last night Id not seen a production of this play, which kickstarted Stoppards career as a playwright when it was staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1966.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is described as an absurdist, existentialist tragi-comedy. It focuses on two minor characters from Hamlet who wait in the wings as Shakespeares tragedy is played out around them, confused and confounded by what is happening, uncertain of their identities, unable to rely on their memories. While Stoppard has Ros and Gil (or is it Gil and Ros?) engage in deep discussions about the meaning of life and death, the conflict between art and reality and the randomness of fate, they completely miss the signficance to their own situation of the philosophical concepts involved in their discussions. They have no existence independent of each other and no existence outside Hamlet - and no understanding of what that means.
Two aspects of the play really stand out for me. One is its metatheatricality. The whole play is a piece of metatheatre given that the the central characters are characters in Hamlet and the action takes place within and around a performance of Hamlet. However, there are also conscious echoes of Samuel Becketts Waiting for Godot, discussions by the characters of theatrical performance and theory, repeated role-playing by Ros and Gil, and more than one variation of Hamlets play-within-a-play. The effect is a complex and layered exposition of theatrical artifice.
The other aspect of the play that I particularly love is the language. Stoppards wordplay is dazzlingly witty and inventive, while demonstrating how language can be used to confound and obfuscate reality and truth.
The Sydney Theatre Company production of the play I saw last night was brilliant, with wonderful performances, sensational set and costumes and great direction. I laughed until I cried. That has to indicate a great night at the theatre.
Mad Lib Theater with Benedict Cumberbatch
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead , often referred to as just Rosencrantz and Guildenstern , is an absurdist , existential tragicomedy by Tom Stoppard , first staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in The main setting is Denmark. The action of Stoppard's play takes place mainly "in the wings" of Shakespeare's, with brief appearances of major characters from Hamlet who enact fragments of the original's scenes. Between these episodes the two protagonists voice their confusion at the progress of events occurring onstage without them in Hamlet , of which they have no direct knowledge. Comparisons have also been drawn with Samuel Beckett 's Waiting for Godot ,  for the presence of two central characters who almost appear to be two halves of a single character. Many plot features are similar as well: the characters pass time by playing Questions , impersonating other characters, and interrupting each other or remaining silent for long periods of time. The title is taken directly from the final scene of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Trevor Nunn, 26, a junior RSC associate director, was keen to stage the play as one of four premieres at the Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre in London, but financial pressure led this season to be cancelled. John Stride and Edward Petherbridge took the title roles: Stride Fortinbras in the NT Hamlet was the garrulous Rosencrantz, not as dumb as he first appears, and Petherbridge was the irritable, sarcastic Guildenstern, not as clever as he thinks he is. They are portrayed as black conspirators with the King, but they are just a couple of men… who are not told very much and have to get on with it. Outside the Alvin a few days after the opening, a woman had asked Stoppard what his play was about. It sounds triumphalist, when in fact I was just snapping at her. I did try to talk one director out of it, but failed.
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Tom Stopperd: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Like the play, the film depicts two minor characters from William Shakespeare 's play Hamlet , Rosencrantz and Guildenstern , who find themselves on the road to Elsinore Castle at the behest of the King of Denmark. They encounter a band of players before arriving to find that they are needed to try to discern what troubles the prince Hamlet. Meanwhile, they ponder the meaning of their existence. The film stars Gary Oldman as Rosencrantz and Tim Roth as Guildenstern,   although a running theme throughout has many characters, themselves included, uncertain as to which is which. This was Stoppard's first and, to date, only film as a director.