Essay about The Stagecraft of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

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The Stagecraft of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead



“…a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more…”

This quote from Macbeth is a perfect summary of the plot of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. The dramatisation of the lives of these two unremarkable and virtually extraneous characters from Hamlet is an unlikely foundation for “one of the most…engaging of post-war plays” (Daily Telegraph). However, as with Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play “Waiting for Godot” the originality of Stoppard’s concept is not enough in itself to create a masterpiece and it is the brilliance of the stagecraft and writing that establishes this play as a classic.

The presentation of
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The first instance occurs after they have been ordered to find Hamlet, now a convicted murderer. They, understandably scared, attempt to find him but after much wandering and procrastination arrive in exactly the same place they started. A fitting punch line to the visual joke is Guildenstern’s comment “Well, at last we’re getting somewhere”. The second example transpires immediately afterwards when they construct a ‘trap’ for Hamlet (two belts held taunt before an entranceway) he evades this by simply walking around it and the two men enhance their folly by saying “there’s a limit to what two people can do”. The farcical quality of this piece of action is mirrored later on in Act III when the Player and his troupe appear on the boat. Ros and Guil are alerted to their presence by the now familiar pipe music and Rosencrantz is startled that the music it is coming from three barrels on stage. As soon as the music stops the lid of the middle barrel flies open and the Player’s head pops out. He climbs out, followed by his entire company and their instruments. This stage direction is extremely effective and droll and brings an interesting edge to the use of space.

The actions of the other characters in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead cleverly intertwine the play with Hamlet as we see not only Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in their moments offstage, but also characters such as the Player, Hamlet and Ophelia. The Player and his company are the

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