Preview: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

October 13-15, 7:30 p.m., October 15, 2:30 p.m.

Loeb Experimental Theater

Directed by Lenora C. Murphy ’12

Produced by Aly G. Martinez ’13 and Civry P. Melvin ’14

The already chaotic world of “Hamlet” takes a maddening turn towards the absurd and existential in Tom Stoppard’s tragicomedy “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” Told from the perspective of Shakespeare’s minor characters, primarily the two oft-confused, at times intellectual courtiers of the title, Stoppard chooses the original’s background as the ideal stage on which to question the meaning of self and being. The Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club (HRDC) will attempt to tackle these concerns, and the infamously convoluted manner in which Stoppard expresses them, in their new production of the play.

“The main issues at stake within this show are what it means to be a person, what it is to have an identity, to choose an identity,” says director Lenora C. Murphy ’12. This year’s production explores the crisis of identity on several levels, the most important being the courtiers’ inability to differentiate themselves from each other. “We often feel like two halves of one person,” says Ben A. Silva ’14 of his character Rosencrantz, the complement of Eli E. Kahn ’13’s Guildenstern. “As a result, each of us feels incomplete in some way and indistinguishable from the other one.”

Whether it is the courtiers’ disorganized attempts at philosophical reasoning or their sporadic interactions with a sexually charged traveling troupe of performers, the play is an intriguing marriage of intellectual humor and tragic emotion. “There are moments that I find poignant and moments that I find truly hilarious,” says Kahn.

The show promises to be an intimate one, in which the cast actively engages with the audience and in so doing blurs the line between what it is to act and what it is to be one’s true self. This production further individualizes itself by not only including females in an originally predominantly masculine cast, but also reversing the gender of several key characters. The HRDC’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” aims to bring wit, introspection and charged emotion to Stoppard’s unique exploration of human choice and purpose.

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