“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”

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I have posted a number of blogs in recent months about my involvement with the Ninth World Shakespeare Congress that will be taking place in Prague this July. These Shakespearian gatherings happen every five years, and a great deal of work goes into organising an event that is truly international in scope.

A highlight of all World Congresses is the programme of plenary speakers.  Previous plenary speakers have included Janet Suzman, Marina Warner, David Malouf, Adrian Noble, Alistair Cooke, and Anthony Burgess. This year, among our eminent plenary speakers drawn from the worlds of politics, academia, and the theatre, is a playwright whose name has long been associated with Shakespeare’s – that being Tom Stoppard.

Born in Czechoslovakia in 1937, Tom Stoppard stormed the British theatre world in 1967 with his innovative and now much celebrated drama – “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”. As the title suggests, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take centre stage in this Shakespearian offshoot, with Hamlet only making the odd (contemplative) appearance.

Stoppard’s brilliant imagining of a ‘noises off’ ‘Hamlet’, has now become an important part of Shakespeare’s theatrical afterlife, and is studied by some school students in this country alongside Shakespeare’s play. Stoppard directed his own screenplay of the drama in 1990, starring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman.

Some years later, Tom Stoppard co-wrote the witty script for the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’ – a movie that did much to pump some flesh and blood into Shakespeare’s biography (factual and fictitious) for a generation of cinema-goers.   If you’ve never heard of “Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter” – you need to follow this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Zi2N1Q8-Y

If you have never read or seen “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” – and if you happen to have the good fortune of being in Switzerland over the next week – you could take the opportunity of catching what should be a fascinating production taking place in Lausanne (poster pictured above). Over the last few months my friend Nadia Fries has been working with the play in the rehearsal room, and has been posting a blog with the rest of her cast that catalogues the trials and tribulations of moving a play from the page to the stage.  Like Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the two women performing the title characters have found themselves blogging not only about the process of rehearsing a play (ie. the subject at hand), but also about how this has led to contemplation and post rehearsal conversation about life, love, and the universe in general. To follow their journey with Shakespeare and Stoppard, and for an entertaining read visit their website http://stagingrosandguilaredead.blogspot.com/

Further information about the Prague Congress is at www.shakespeare2011.net

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Author:Nick Walton

Nick Walton is a Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
  • Anonymous

    Thanks for for this Duncan – a date for my diary.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks AJ.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Diana.

  • I am away on holiday until May 9th – I will contact you as soon as possible on my return.

    All the best

    Liz

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  • Diana Owen

    Great reminder Nick and planning to see it at Chichester theatre this summer ………….. Really looking forward to great line up of speakers at the Congress in Prague too – well done

  • Diana Owen

    Great reminder Nick and planning to see it at Chichester theatre this summer ………….. Really looking forward to great line up of speakers at the Congress in Prague too – well done

  • I am away on holiday until May 9th – I will contact you as soon as possible on my return.

    All the best

    Liz

    This message is solely intended for the use of the person
    (s), “the Intended Recipient”, to whom it is addressed. It
    may contain information that is privileged or
    confidential. Accordingly, any dissemination,
    distribution, copying or other use of this message or any
    of its content by any other person other than the Intended
    Recipient may constitute a breach of civil or criminal law
    and is strictly prohibited. If you are not the Intended
    Recipient please contact the sender as soon as possible

  • Love it, Nick! So glad you wrote about this! 🙂

  • I am away on holiday until May 9th – I will contact you as soon as possible on my return.

    All the best

    Liz

    This message is solely intended for the use of the person
    (s), “the Intended Recipient”, to whom it is addressed. It
    may contain information that is privileged or
    confidential. Accordingly, any dissemination,
    distribution, copying or other use of this message or any
    of its content by any other person other than the Intended
    Recipient may constitute a breach of civil or criminal law
    and is strictly prohibited. If you are not the Intended
    Recipient please contact the sender as soon as possible

  • Duncan

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is on at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 16 June to 20 August

    www.
    trh.co.uk

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