The University of South Dakota Department of Theatre presents Tom Stoppards award-winning comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, at 7:30 p.m., March 25-26, and at 2 p.m. on March 27 in the Arena Theatre of the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts.
Winner of both the Tony and NY Drama Critics Circle awards, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead turns Hamlet on its ear. It is not a story about the mad prince of Shakespeares classic, but two of its minor characters, Rosencrantz (Nick Block of Sioux Falls) and Guildenstern (Jessie Atkinson of Sioux City, IA), who are sent for by Hamlets uncle and King of Denmark, Claudius (Patrick Beasley, Lincoln, NE), to find out why Hamlet (Brian Muldoon of Sioux Falls) has suddenly adopted such a strange and borderline manic demeanor. The title characters are shown in the moments between their appearances in Hamlet, while the classics main characters, busy onstage with their tale, only appear infrequently. Because most of the action takes place away from them, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern struggle to make sense of what is happening. In Stoppards play, everyone but the two title characters knows they are doomed and this provides a somewhat existential, yet hilarious, view of the human condition and Hamlet.
Many characters from Hamlet such as Ophelia (Emily Dorsett of Sioux City, IA), Polonius (Will Cornay of Yankton), Horatio (Nichole Jorgensen of Tea), and Laertes (Marcus Langseth of South Sioux City, NE) show up for the fun as does a group of Tragedians led by The Player (Erin Gallion of Salina, KS). Stoppard uses the convention of a play within a play in a delightfully creative yet befuddling manner to the protagonists. Other characters include The Attendant (Gabrielle Cross of Brewster, MN), The Ambassador (Jamie Fields of Bellevue, NE), The Player King (Tim Huggenberger of Sioux City, IA), The Guard (Eleanor Petersen of Valentine, NE) and Gertrude (Lindsay Qualls of Portland, OR).
Tickets for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead can be reserved by calling the USD Theatre Box Office at (605) 677-5400 or online at www.usd.edu/theatre. Tickets for the program are $14 for adults, $9 for K-12 and non-USD students, and $4 for USD students with ID.