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Acting Naturally

Richard's Writings > Acting Naturally > Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Synopsis of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

I was cast as The Player in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, an original play (and movie) is set in and through Shakespeare's Hamlet. As the lead player in a troupe of traveling actors (tragedians) I had a great deal of stage time, and much of the script called for my character to really ham it up, ala The Master Thespian character from Saturday Night Live. I had a lot of fun doing this show, and the cast was among the best I ever worked with.

Excerpt from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Every play seems to have some special feature to highlight: with Oliver! it was the audition process; with My Fair Lady it was casting problems, and so on. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was the first play I have been in that included stage combat.

Rob, who played Rosencrantz, was a theatre major in college, and in addition to extensive theory he took several classes in stage combat - so he served as our technical advisor. There is a small sword fight in Act I when I introduce the tragedians ("Battles!" "We can do you rapiers...!") and another sword fight between myself and Laertes in the dumb-show in Act II.

Even though we are using wooden swords, each thrust and slash and parry has to be choreographed and practiced like a dance routine. It was fun to learn and practice (boys with their toys!) and on most Saturday afternoons Becky's neighbors would see us fencing on her front lawn. ("There are those theater people again, Gladys.")

In addition, R, G and Hamlet wore real swords through most of Acts I and II, which they occasionally brandished. Even The Player runs off into the wings and backs onto the stage waving a real sword, when we are attached by pirates in Act II.


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