Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (2017)

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (2017)

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Aug 3-13, 2017

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (2017)

Starting at $20

Starting at $20

  • Presented by: Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Intermission: One
  • Venue: Roe Green Theatre (Indoors)
  • University Theatre Building, 261 University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80302

In this hilarious and mind-bending comedy by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Shakespeare in Love," "Hamlet" is brilliantly retold through the eyes of two minor characters. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two bewildered schoolmates sent to pull Prince Hamlet out of a descent into madness, grapple with fate, free will and the game of life. CSF’s production brings its full "Hamlet" cast on stage to inhabit Stoppard’s ingenious parallel universe of wit and wisdom.

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Plot Synopsis: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are puzzled. As they journey toward Elsinore, the coins they have been flipping keep landing on heads. Have the laws of probability been suspended? Does this reflect their current situation? And where exactly are they going? They encounter a group of actors who invite them to participate in their performance for a fee. Instead, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern use the irregular odds of the coin toss to their advantage while betting with the tragedians. Eventually the tragedians move on and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find themselves thrust into the ever-so-perplexing world of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are instructed to ascertain the cause of Hamlet’s irregular behavior and draw the melancholy Dane into pleasant pastimes. The confused friends do their best to navigate the world of the play. The tragedians arrive at the court and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern attend a dress rehearsal of a play that depicts the events of Hamlet, including their own deaths. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern fail to recognize themselves in the play and they question an actor’s ability to represent death. Hamlet offends the king, who sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to escort Hamlet to England. The king sends a letter which, unbeknownst to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, orders Hamlet’s death.

On the voyage to England, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern discover the contents of the letter and debate their control over the circumstances. They resolve to do nothing. While they sleep, Hamlet replaces the letter with one that condemns the two friends and subsequently disembarks when pirates attack. The two wonder if they could have done anything to avoid their impending death. The play ends in the final moments of Hamlet, when the ambassador from England announces that, in Shakespeare’s own words, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.”

—Gillian Riley Nogeire, Dramaturg