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Comedy, Tragedy and Philosophy Meet in BYU Production of 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead'


Rosencrantz (Sten Shearer) and Guildenstern (Ian Buckley). (Rebekah Baker/BYU Photo)

The production will allow students to see a piece of theatre often studied in an academic setting

The Department of Theatre and Media Arts will present a Tony Award-winning Tom Stoppard classic to BYU audiences when "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" opens on March 8.

The absurdist tragicomedy follows minor "Hamlet" characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as they attempt to make sense of their own roles and circumstances within Shakespeare's play. Stoppard's script is a popular reading choice for both high school and college-level English and theatre courses, allowing many of the BYU cast and crew members to bring their studies to life.

"'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead'is a special play for me," said Sten Shearer, who plays Rosencrantz. "I first read it in high school and found it so fascinating because it was at the same time comedic and insightful. It has the appeal of British comedy, yet manages to explore philosophical concepts like free will and mortality, all wrapped in a structure that is open to individual interpretation."

"I think by very nature, 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern'is interesting, unique and exciting," added dramaturg and graduate student Hannah Gunson-McComb. "It delves into some difficult topics like nihilism and existentialism. It has an impressive past and an impressive playwright, and it offers some delightful challenges for the soul brave enough to mount the production."

Gunson-McComb and Shearer feel that BYU's production, directed by Reese Purser, has risen to these challenges, which stem from the wit, pace and depth of the show.

Read more at BYU Arts.