ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN are DEAD Discussion

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Today we were privileged to witness the beautiful and brilliant production of Shakespeare Company & Hit and Myth’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at ATP Theatre.  Below write your response/ideas after experiencing the show (or in your own post, if you prefer – provide a link below if you write your own post).

  1. Write a PLAY REVIEW
  2.  Respond to somethingn in the STUDY GUIDE
  3. Write a response to a specific actor – Cast Bios and Creative Team at bottom here
  4. Discuss an element that interests you – the script, actors, direction, design, etc…
  5. Any topic/idea you feel compelled to share,
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21 thoughts on “ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN are DEAD Discussion

  1. I think the most impressive thing to me about this play in its execution was the way in which it managed to capture the essence of the Shakespherian style of performing. It’s a simple complexity, and a complex simplicity. It’s inclusive but also ruthlessly esoteric. Allow me to explain.

    My good friend sitting beside me was not exactly fanatical about English literature, least of all Shakespeare. She also happened to not be familiar with the story of Hamlet, so it was difficult explaining what exactly the premise of this show was. To me, it was a look into the conflict between existentialism and absurdism through the perspective of quite possibly the least relevant characters in the midst of a complex, classical, Shakespeare piece involving Hamlet talking to the ghost of Hamlet. To her, it was a show about two people named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are supposedly dead.

    I did of course, contend with myself of undertaking the rigour that would be explaining the story of Hamlet to her, but I ultimately decided that it would be a vain endevour. I myself did not have the merit to explain it to her in a way that would make any semblence of coherence, and that any attempt to do so would have only ventured to further exacerbate her confusion.

    But when it came time to be of audience, it became apparent that none of that would have mattered. Despite everything of it, all the wordplay and convoluted circumlocutions of dialog that I myself couldn’t will myself to follow at times, almost everyone in the room reacted to things as they were intended to. The laughter was copious, the audience was engaged, intentful, willing to subject themselves to the task of understanding what was going on and what was being said. But most importantly, they were entertained.

    So when I looked to her upon intermission, and asked her what she made of it, she laughed with her response; “I barely understood that but it was great.” And I had to agree. I barely understood it either, but the way in which the script was purely performed is what put that “barely” in place of “didn’t”. This is what I believe is the core of Shakespeare in performance, that had been captured so vividly and so evidently with the audiences reaction. They were able to enjoy it without having to understand it, and because of this, they wanted to understand it. And that is something that I can appreciate.

  2. The Shakespeare Company and Hit & Myth’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead on October 17th, 2018 was a masterful presentation of Stoppard’s piece which captured the provocative elements of existentialism while blending the humour and wit of absurdism fabulously alongside. I was left with cheeks sore from laughing and mind reeling in attempts to understand my place in this world. Needless to say, the production certainly did not disappoint, rather it left audience members craving more of what this unconventional duo had to offer.

    I was most impressed by the blocking and directorial choices regarding sound throughout the show: Glynis Leyshon’s choices allowed for a seamless transition from page to stage. Her choice to have live music not only throughout the entire show but as part of the show was not only a way to exemplify the talents of cast members but also drew audience members in. Our attention was all the more difficult to break as the sound effects and music we heard felt as if they were weaved into the lines themselves. Furthermore, the blocking throughout the duration of the show was very intentional – considering the auditorium – as audience members always had a clear view of some, if not all, of the action. Leyshon’s consideration was most reflected in the performance of The Murder of Gonzago; having Rosencrantz and Guildenstern on the floor and the stage for Gonzago raised allowed for a creation of levels that lended the stage beautifully to the mayhem of the players. The confusion of a play (The Murder of Gonzago) within a play (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead) within a play (Hamlet) never took us out of the hilarity that ensued and for that Leyshon and the cast are deserving of high praise.

    In summary, it was an honour to partake in The Shakespeare Company and Hit & Myth’s brilliant production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; a five-star performance indeed!

    (I love the homage being paid to Waiting for Godot – it further encouraged the questioned of my place and related worth in the universe.)

  3. * Based on my current reading, Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman,” and the significance/events of the play, Hunnisett suggested I write a review of the play through the lens of feminism. I will be discussing my learnings from Wollstonecraft’s book (but I am only on chapter 3) in regards to the play. Excerpts in this response are quoted from “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”.

    According to Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, the “faculties and virtues” of mankind are created equal in at least degree for both men and women (a common disposition during Wollstonecraft’s time was that women were physiologically inferior to men). While faculties relate to the traits of one’s character, such as their passions and senses, virtue is that which is acquired – the integrity and character of an individual. In arguing that such attributes are created equal in both genders, the lacking development of such “faculties and virtues” can be credited to i) society’s nurturing of gender inequality and ii) the uncultivated and unstimulated minds of suppressed women – “satisfied with common nature, [women] become prey to prejudices, and taking all their opinions on credity, they blindly submit to authority.”(37) Further, Wollstonecraft asserts that the only visible superiority of men is that of physical strength, simply because the female gender finds power in their weakness – it is because of uncultivated minds, shaped by society’s disregard of the merit of women, that the female gender has had a reputation for being submissive in nature.

    These ideas can be seen to be paralleled, and challenged, within the characterization of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. While Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are traditionally played by men, and were written as men, their personal “faculties” primarily consist of aforementioned submissiveness – stereotypical feminine traits – as evidenced through their pursuing an ultimately meaningless life in service to a higher authority. The “virtues” of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are also “obtain[ed] by degrading themselves,” (34) through said pursuit, again in reference to the past mannerisms of female conduct. In this regard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern themselves act as satirical remarks on the absurdity of gender inferiority – it is a matter of circumstances, and equivalent, though differing in nature, “faculties and virtues,” that creates a person, not stereotypical and socially enforced gender appropriations. As Hunnisett said when discussing this with me, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern can be viewed as genderless because of this. In this regard, since men and women are equal, should it not matter that the part of a man was played by a woman?

    These notions are further reinforced when recalling Q&A responses after the play. Braden Griffiths, who played Horatio/a Tragedian, responded to an inappropriate comment with grace and great intellect – the significance of the male perspective regarding female degradation can be related to the central message of equality in Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” (namely, I appreciated how he began his response with “I don’t mean to speak for Natasha [Strickey]….” as it demonstrated that he was not speaking as a savior for the supposed inferior gender, but rather to spread and enforce the rights of females, and in general, mankind). Myla Southward (Rosencrantz) had also said, followed by applause, that “women were taking over the world,” and that “women can play any role,” the power of women no longer in their weakness, but in their “faculties and virtues.”

    Apart from this, I was also wondering if anyone had any insight regarding the significance of the tree from Waiting for Gadot that appeared at the beginning of the play up until the first scene with Hamlet and Ophelia, to when it returned (again with Hamlet), and was removed for the final time before the end of the play? Thanks!

  4. I would like to talk about the theme presented in this adaption of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of intrigue vs.enlightenment demonstrated by the protagonists and the driving motif of questions.

    One can describe an individual who seeks intrigue as one who thrives on uncertainty in hopes of finding their place within the unpredictable future. Stoppard’s Rosencrantz embodies this sense of intrigue for s(he) is constantly searching for purpose/ momentum in life. In order for one to maintain momentum, an individual must constantly rummage for inquiries to uncover the unknown(finding what you don’t know). Rosencrantz does this by questioning her/his mortality and feeling unsettled when stuck in the present; for instance, in the beginning of the play Rosencrantz itches to move forward and abandon the game of coins to fulfill his/her need to never lose intrigue.

    On the other hand, Guildenstern embodies enlightenment due to his/her constant epiphanies and desire for gaining knowledge. S(he), in contrast to Rosencrantz, prefers to stay in the present and challenge reality. Guildenstern reflects the Age of Enlightenment due to her/his habit of daring the unsurpassed such as probability, human condition (Hamlet), and God. In contrast, Rosencrantz’s desires to separate him/herself from the meaningless stream of life stem from Existentialism( 19th/20th Century) due to his/her intrigue and individualistic motivations, whereas Guildenstern’s ideas and insights stem from the Enlightenment period of the 18th century.

    Although, there is an irony in their motivations and revelations, since they rarely lead them to answers and even cause them to become more lost than they were in the first place.

    You can compare Existentialism and Enlightenment the same way you can compare Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for the two both want to discover a more hidden meaning to life and find individual purpose within the seemingly purposeless. Nevertheless, Rosencrantz’s impatience with the present and lack of intrigue inspires Guildenstern’s search for certainty and enlightenment; ultimately, these propel the story forward yet the overpowering need to appeal to authority causes the protagonists to defy their natures-leading them to their doom.

    I AM AWARE MY ARGUMENT NEEDS SPECIFIC EVIDENCE AND MORE MEANING/MATTER BUT I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS A COOL IDEA TO BEGIN EXPLORING.

  5. Despite this being one of the few plays that I have been too, it was truly remarkable in comparison. Especially after being able to analyze and interpret what the possible meanings behind parts of the play meant, I grew a sense of appreciation for the play and looked beyond just its comedic effect. Unfortunately, many students who were not familiar with Hamlet were left unaware of the real purpose behind the play and didn’t have much to base the value of this play on.

    I have decided to talk about the lack of direction and purpose in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s lives. They both seemed quite unaware and confused throughout the play which made them reliant upon others to give them this certainty, ultimately, leading to their demise. This dependency is seen in how both characters had been completely reliant upon the letter that King Claudius had sent. The death of both these characters is not shown which to me suggests that these characters were never living. This is evident in the repetition of Guildenstern’s profound yet simplistic quote on death in that “death is simply the absence of presence.” This clearly describes a disconnect between these two characters and Hamlet. The plot of Hamlet was shown to kind of overshadow Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s own lives. However, they continued to create an illusion of importance seen when Guildenstern comments on how they feel that they have control and purpose within the boat but, in reality, begin to realize that they do not have direction and are unable to act independently.

    Ultimately, if one was to look at both Hamlet and this play there is an underlying theme of having purpose as opposed to having no value at all. However, the true connection exists in how Tom Stoppard is able to present the idea that it doesn’t matter whether an individual has purpose or not in their life because it all ends with the permanency of death. Hamlet took some time to figure out what his purpose was but even after knowing it was dragged into death’s welcoming arms. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s meaningless life on the other hand leaves them dead from the very beginning. A dark yet inevitable truth can be clearly seen throughout the play: death does not pick favourites.

    I kind of forgot to focus on only one topic, so it might be a bit confusing. Anyways, this play was phenomenal, and I am glad that we took the time to appreciate the meaning behind this work of art. Also, Shyla I have the same question as you do about the tree’s significance at different points in the play.

  6. Regarding the characters within this play, for me, the most impressive thing was how Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were at surface level portrayed as puppets who were both incredibly dim and directionless – not questioning the tasks imposed upon them. Yet, through the duration of the play it’s revealed these characters questioned insightful rules about the human condition, especially since they weren’t embarrassed or afraid to ask the “big questions” (i.e. why do we exist?).

    As we had touched briefly in class, they were able to encompass unpleasant, yet needed, truths using satire: “to use wit and humor to criticize peoples vices/stupidity”. For instance, an ” aha” moment I had was whenever a sense of boredom enveloped the stage, either Rosencrantz or Guildenstern would ask “isn’t something exciting going to happen?”; looking at the entrances to the stage, anticipating something to entertain them. I found this incredibly intriguing because THEY are the main characters: THEY are meant to entertain the audience. Rather, it’s as if they felt like they were the audience while everything going on around them was the “real” play. I took this as them almost taunting us (the audience) – breaking a fourth wall, acknowledging that they were part of something bigger than themselves and the situation they were in. More so, their lack of excitement mocks the human condition to feel uneasy when we’re deprived of stimulation – often forgetting to savor the peace and quiet.

    Furthermore, at the beginning of the play I had noticed Rosencrantzs persistent questioning of the actions committed. While on the other hand, Guildenstern would always disregard Rosencrantzs thoughts – dismissing them as incompetent and foolish, further saying it was dumb for them to question the orders of higher ranking figures. In this, it displayed Rosencratz as a annoying fool who could not follow orders and Guildenstern as a rational, reasonable character. However, I feel as if this is directly reflected within society – embedded in our rules governing the unspoken social mannerisms. Much of what we consider normal is said to be the “right way”, and the “trouble makers” or the ones that don’t follow a “perfect” mold of the ideal citizen is automatically considered to be “crazy” or “a nuisance” to society. Although we have become much more accepting of differences, there’s still a stigma associated with the people that question what is beyond “normal”.

    Concluding, when taking into account the psychology of the two – minor made main – characters and how their actions reflects so much of our own lives was irresistibly powerful.

  7. I would like to explore the idea of why minor characters are dismissed as unimportant in the perspectives of other characters in the play. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were one of the least significant characters in the play, and yet in Stoppard’s version, they are unconventionally the protagonists. Stoppard is able to delve into the perspectives of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern beautifully, depicting Rosencrantz as someone who waits for things to happen to him/her, indicating a connection to Waiting for Godot, while illustrating Guildenstern as an intellectual.
    I would like to focus on the characters of Guildenstern and the fool from King Lear. Having watched both plays, there are many comparisons that can be made between these two characters. Both are considered insignificant to the others in the play, but really express philosophical ideas and truth in their words and questions. Why is that? In the beginning of R & G are Dead, Guildenstern explores the rules of probability, demonstrated through the absurdity of consistently landing on heads when flipping coins. Guildenstern consistently pursues the ideas of existentialism and absurdism instigating questioning in the audience. He/she introduces the topic that death is merely “an absence of presence” and invokes truth in his/her words. He/she mainly focuses on the observations of self and the existence of individuals. The fool from King Lear is seen merely as what he/she is – a fool. And yet, the fool indirectly spreads truth to the King through the analogy of the cuckoo bird (the idea of parasitism in the play). He/she gives important advice to the King through seemingly frivolous songs, but King Lear never adheres to them. The fool focuses on the observations of others’ actions and how it affects the plot of the play.
    The idea of equality is evident throughout Shakespeare’s plays. The tragedies I’ve studied so far explains the reason why minor characters are often dismissed; this is due to the fact that many protagonists have positive illusions about themselves. They believe that they have better qualities and abilities than others, an unrealistic optimism about their future, and an illusion of control over external occurrences. We see this in King Claudius’s desperate action to conceal his true motives by sending Hamlet away to his death after the Murder of Gonzago, and his ironic death by the very poison he himself provided. We also see this in Macbeth, where he has a false sense of security after the witches’ prophecy, and dies because of the illusion of control he had over others. In this way, Shakespeare is able to bring down “superior” characters to the levels of minor characters. Therefore, all characters play an equal role in the exploration of existentialism and purpose.

  8. The writing of the play – specifically in the profoundness of the players, was what really caught my attention. The way that the concept of “actors without an audience” was portrayed, and the way it held truth intertwined in the comedy is genius. Through previous examples we’ve seen in AP (King Lear in particular), the comedians are able to get away with speaking truth about an individual of power without consequence, for they were only doing their job as entertainment. The issue arises for such characters as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the players is that there isn’t anyone to entertain – that is to say, they don’t have a purpose. I am led to believe that this is the reasoning behind the confusion in the script alone, to embody the sense of being lost, or worse, forgotten. This sense of being forgotten is only brought to those whose purpose is derived from the desires of others. Forgetting oneself would be considered madness or insanity, and hence would not be considered “forgotten” (Hamlet). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern being unable to remember their duties plays into the ambiguity of the situation we see them in – caused by the lack of knowledge and certainty.

    As characters whose roles are ingrained in servitude, the players do not have an audience to serve. They roam around desperately searching for someone – anyone at this point, to entertain. A purpose to complete. A quote said by one of the actors, ” Audiences know what they expect and that is all they are prepared to believe in,” also implicates that the actors must know what the audience expects and are liable to provide it to them. These characters know what to expect of the audiences expectations, and can act accordingly. However, the problem is found when these characters are deprived of their audience, they cannot know what to expect since there is nothing to expect. In that dazed state, hints of madness can be found, as seen in both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

    I believe there is sufficient evidence in this play to be able to write an essay on this potential madness. As is seen, when the purpose of an individual is set on the needs/desires of others, there is no certainty of self-fulfillment, and in that uncertainty – madness.

  9. What I found particularly interesting about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is the function of certainty in the play itself.

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are characters, but act much more like objects: they are acted on rather than acting themselves. While this should provide an element of certainty – being the mere “hands and feet” of major characters can still be considered a sort of identity – insecurity in this purpose causes a rift between the pairs’ self-perception and the way others view them. To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, they are (or should be) fully developed humans, yet unlike other characters such as Hamlet, their lack of presence is the equivalent of death, highlighting their “disposable” nature. In this sense, they lack permanence in the events of their own story, which is also emphasized by the first setting in the play being simply “a place without character”. From the very beginning, there is a lack of certainty in the twos’ place within the story; rather than resisting this lack of internal motivation to act, the pair continuously accepts the scenarios that come to them to try to develop a sense of certainty in their lives, resulting in almost nothing meaningful happening in the play beyond their deaths. They essentially try to “cure” their uncertainty without acting for themselves.

    There is a definite tragedy to a lack of purpose, but generally this isn’t an entirely self-inflicted; we, as people, are bound to our circumstances and live in our interactions with the environment. In the case of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, however, obedience to Claudius and their inability to understand Hamlet as being shrewdly aware of their intentions are potentially escapable circumstances, yet they fail to consider disobedience to the “natural order” of power (which would cause uncertainty in their social dynamics with others) as an option. Thus it may be argued that their failure to accept uncertainty and meet the uncertainty they hold with meaning they have created for themselves is the major cause of their downfall. Stoppard thus develops the idea that purposes other’s have fabricated for “lost” individuals are instead designed to exploit the expendability of said people. t is because they are not fully certain of their purpose that they act on whatever instructions they receive and fail to find meaning in their existences. It is because Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are not fully certain of their purpose that they act on whatever instructions they receive and, ironically, fail to find the certainty of being able to create meaning in their existences.

    Lacking a purpose immediately puts one at the bottom of a food chain; without inner intentions to fuel purposeful actions – without certainty in one’s own ability to find their own worth – one can become an object others use to fulfill their purposes.

  10. “Death is the absence of presence.”

    In dramatic theatre and film studies, death is often an essential part of a certain climax or tragic denouement; however, in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the play director, Glynis Leyshon, chose to contrarily highlight the subtle nature of the deaths of the two main characters. This touches on the concept of existentialism-being the philosophical thinking and questioning of existence- as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern frequently question their own purpose and circle back to their reason of placement in the play constantly throughout it. With the fact of these two characters being insignificant from the classic Hamlet, the playwright, Tom Stoppard, and the director, through the physical execution of the play, link this concept of existence and death with the reality of most individuals.

    When you think of normal, every day-to-day, life, automatically the understanding is that normal people do not have extravagant lives where their individual purposes are known and distinct, as shown in typical films and plays. However, although normal people do not have heroic missions and purposes, they find their reason of living in the smallest roles of life, such as the maintenance of career and family. When deaths do occur in normal life, initially although it seems as if a sudden tragedy has unfolded in one’s life, it becomes impossible to continue on with such mindset; therefore, most learn to perceive it as the “absence of presence.” This absence in real life is commonly understood as the lack of physical presence but the continuation of an individual’s spirit due to the role that the person played in the lives of others; in other words, this spirit continues to exist because of the purpose the individual found for themselves during their lifetime.

    In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, the beginning of the play starts off by mirroring the reality of normal life, with individuals trying to find their role/purpose; however, with the continuation of this question and the stagnation of the characters of the two leads, the playwright and director depicted how this lack of direction and dependence on an external force for a purpose leads to one’s own demise, as their death is no longer the regret of their physical dissipation, but the absence of their spirit, thus their exit from the stage of life.

  11. My enjoyment of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern was only amplified by the numerous references and artistic choices that I had come to understand with my own past.

    Having read and, to an extent, understood Hamlet, I came into the show with an idea of the nature of events surrounding the minor characters of the main piece (Hamlet). Going further in-depth with these characters was not something I had previously considered as their role could have easily been done by nameless characters and they exemplified this within their own dialogue about their lives. They remained questioning their own existence and the roles they had and the significance they even have in the events they find themselves in. Though their capabilities in being able to help Hamlet are questionable with the whole idea of them not being able to even know who is who within them, the sheer profoundness of their thoughts provide this insight that would not have been associated with their original role in Hamlet. This creates the idea for me that even the most seemingly clueless people have this greater understanding of life – much like Shakespeare’s own character of the Fool in King Lear.

    The second interesting thing that is used most obviously in the set design of this particular production is the tree from the play Waiting for Godot. For me, this whole reference struck home with me because I had out of nowhere chosen that specific play to read in grade 9 and had the same “what is even happening” feeling that seeing this play caused me. I had wanted to do a comparison between both pieces, but alas neither time nor mental capacity permitted me to do it. Most significantly both these plays draw attention to these men who seemingly have no direction or idea in their lives and through the use of humour and nonsensical dialogue, they draw attention to the concepts of absurdism and existentialism. It shows that it is not necessary to be a scholar to try and understand the matters of existence because it is often the ordinary who will truly see life for what it is and thus be able to examine it in its purest form.

    Finally, in one of my favourite scenes in the play, we see the use of The Parting Glass in the closing. This beautiful rendition of an Irish folk song brought a sense of peace after the chaos that is the entirety of the play and is forever one of my favourite slow songs. I remember it being used in one of the earlier seasons of The Walking Dead which also contains this constant chaos that is being juxtaposed by this song. It is a farewell song that can be directly attributed to the death of the main characters as well as the deaths of most of the key characters in Hamlet (which we see in scenes throughout this piece). It ends with this idea of no regrets and peace with oneself which felt odd in comparison to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. But maybe this can be associated with a version of a happy ending as our main characters might have finally understood that their role in life did not have to be what we call significant but their own.

    Maybe all my ideas are outlandish but it helps me feel happy with my own existence which I can compare to some extent to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  12. The exquisite contrast of simplicity and complexity defines Tom Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. As the play unraveled on stage, I was completely in awe of the playwrights ability to transfigure Shakespeare’s minor characters into those who held great significance to the foundation of a profound play. Furthermore, I don’t think I have laughed quite as much for any other play, which just solidifies the overall excellence and coherence of the play!

    Aside from the enjoyable comedy, the idea of seeking for purpose and feeling purposeless was an intriguing thought communicated by the main characters. Though it may seem to be a simple play of two aimless characters seeking for purpose, Stoppard’s technique of providing indefinite answers to philosophical questions intends to build confusion and complexity which is experienced by the players themselves. This concept is introduced in the opening scene in which Stoppard indulges the audience in an amusing bout of coin tossing. Guildenstern, arguably the better half of the duo, reasons out the law of probability, stating that each coin spun individually is as likely to come down heads as tails and therefore should not cause surprise of the individual outcomes. Yet, as the coin lands heads up for 85 consecutive times, it boggles their mind due to the inadequacy of nature to follow the applications of pure logic. As humorous as it may be, it demonstrates the unsettling outcome of the play in which the main characters unknowingly approaches a rather unexpected and unnatural end.
    The idea of purposelessness, or rather the inability to find purpose, is once again reinforced in act 2 as the tragedians act out the events of Hamlet. Unknowingly, the actors draws attention to the role of two and their ultimate downfall, yet Rosencrantz & Guildenstern does not discern the significance of the play or the death that awaits them. Without a sense of purpose, life becomes meaningless, which is why Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are unable to comprehend their ultimate fate which was so plainly displayed in front of them – because one way or another, the end will come.
    Abroad the ship headed to England, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern discover the contents of the replaced letter which issued their death. As the audience, we become agitated on the lack of questioning from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern regarding their innocent death – especially sense they knew that the letter was not meant for them. All throughout the play, as these two characters were musing about their purpose, they have lost their ability to find meaning and ignorantly binds to their fate. Stoppard intelligently fuses an abrupt end as the characters falls into their own trap of confusion regarding the purpose of their life.

  13. On the writing of the play…

    What a brilliantly written piece. There are brilliant aphorisms on life such as Guildenstern’s aside on truth being a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, which becomes hideously grotesque when brought into the outline. In addition, the humour and the tragedy were so perfectly blended together. Scenes such as Hamlet dragging a corpse around the stage were made hilarious because of just how useless R&G was when it came to intervening the main plot of Hamlet. For a moment they are certainly hilarious but upon further reflection, the scene envokes thought. A moment as minor as that one forces you to critically analyze the situation the two characters are in. Knowing they will ultimately have little to no effect on the main plot of Hamlet, despite putting up with them for a couple hours, you end up hoping something will change in their future.
    Regardless, one of the highlights for was the opening. I haven’t practiced with Shakespeare as much as other people have, so it takes me a little longer to adjust when we’re watching shows such as King Lear or Macbeth. However, given that the language was far more comprehensible, I was able to appreciate the opening far more. Suspense is something I hear being thrown around by authors to describe their own novels but rarely do I ever care about the characters to feel for them. With R&G, I believe the coin toss was the perfect way to start the show. When establishing patterns in writing, the purpose is to eventually subvert the audience’s expectations, which is what builds suspense. It is that feeling of waiting for something to happen that you know is coming. The audience knows the coin will eventually have to land tails, but as they keep landing heads, we’re left sitting at the edge of our seats waiting in suspense. It’s that desire to be able to predict the outcome. Make the audience feel smart!
    At the end, when the audience gave up on the game, they were left surprised when the coin finally landed tails.

  14. Personally, I was very intrigued by the themes surrounding Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Themes including the duality of existentialism and absurdism, a sense of purpose, or lackthereof, ignorance, and identity. There is a plethora of themes within this piece that could be studied and anazlyzed for an endless amount of time. I find myself discovering new tidbits of insight each time I think about this play.

    I decided to attempt to organize my thoughts by creating a thesis; When an individual lacking self awareness attempts to find purpose in an otherwise meaningless life, blindly following the will of others does not develop their identity; therefore, their lives will remain stagnant and unfulfilled. I would have explored how those lacking a solidified identity will rely on others to form it for them. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern spend the entire play searching for a purpose, yet how is that possible without an ounce of self awareness? This turns into an endless cycle of disappointment and stagnation. Their desires remain unfulfilled, their questions remain unanswered, and their ability of decision making (on the will of their own) remains undeveloped.

    I loved how the entirity of the play mirrored all of this by masking a rather simple plot by confusing wordplay and dialogue. The satire only provides the tragedy (in my opinion) of this piece. I always had a breath of some underlying sadness and pity for both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because of the complete waste of efforts, yet they were the cause of their own demise (but they didn’t even know that!).

  15. Okay, so I posted this so long ago but I suppose it never fully uploaded and unfortunately I did not realize this until today so here is my comment that I made what feels like a million years ago! I am sorry for posting it this late 🙁

    The play, in my opinion, was spectacular and definitely worth watching again. Even though I thought that the staging was exceptionally well done and that the live music playing in different scenes, at times, used brilliantly to set a mood or evoke a certain emotion in the audience was amazing, the most memorable aspect of this play, for me at least, was the cleverness from the writing, although, at times, it was difficult to follow along and to catch every single trick or clever phrase in the quick paced dialogue, I nonetheless, loved every bit of their humorous dialogue. A few of the highlights for me was their conversation about being alive in a box, their questions game, and their overall ridiculous conversations about seemingly pointless topics such as how strange it is that one must trim fingernails much more often than ones toenails. All these conversations between Rosencrantz and Guildenstern may seem downright stupid and pointless, but I especially found it interesting how this is the whole point for the purpose of depicting them as purposeless and holding such minimal power or influence over the plot of Hamlet and the happenings around them that they indulge in such meaningless conversations between each other. Lastly I’d like to say that upon reading the play’s guide, I came across the following quote in the synopsis: “The player describes the different deaths that his troupe can perform while the Tragedians act out those deaths onstage… Rosencrantz breaks down and leaves as he realizes his death is near,” what stood out to me about this quote is that it clearly showed the role of the player in the play overall; I loved the concept of depicting parallels of the reality occurring with the Player, I just thought it was clever and interesting how it takes Rosencrantz essentially the whole play to realize their role and impact. Overall, I would definitely recommend this play to others, I really enjoyed it!

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