Acclaimed as a modern dramatic masterpiece, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is the fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm’s-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, two characters in Shakespeare’s play.
Play title: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Author (s): Tom Stoppard
Publisher: Grove Press and Samuel French Inc.
Publication Date: 1967
Genre: Comedy (Absurd)
Primary Discipline: Physics
Source Texts: Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Character Breakdown: 14 men, 2 women (Room for extras)
Main characters: Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Hamlet, Tragedians, King Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Horatio, Fortinbras, and The Player
Setting: Various (mirrors many of the settings within Hamlet)
Time Period: Medieval Denmark
Synopsis of Play: Acclaimed as a modern dramatic masterpiece, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is the fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm’s-eye view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play. In Tom Stoppard’s best-known work, this Shakespearean Laurel and Hardy finally get a chance to take the lead role, but do so in a world where echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, where reality ad illusion intermix, and where fate leads our two heroes to a tragic but inevitable end. (Play text cover blurb, Grove Press)
First Performance Date: August 24, 1966 at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
First Producer: Oxford Theatre Group
Performance History: The first performance of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard was given in a slightly shortened form on August 24, 1966 at Cranston Street Hall, Edinburgh, by the Oxford Theatre Group as part of the “fringe” of the Edinburgh Festival. Directed by Brian Daubney. The first professional production was given on April 11, 1967 at the Old Vic Theatre, London, by the National Theatre Company. Directed by Derek Goldby. Designed by Desmond Heeley. The New York premiere was given on October 16, 1967 at the Alvin Theatre. Directed by Derek Goldby. Designed by Desmond Heeley.