SAN MARCOS — “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” Tom Stoppard’s comedy deemed “funny, brilliant and chilling” by the New York Times, is set for six performances between July 23 and Aug. 1 at Palomar College’s Howard Brubeck Theatre in San Marcos. The Palomar Performing Arts presentation will be directed by Michael Mufson.
Originally performed in 1966 as part of Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Stoppard’s play made its New York debut a year later, then found its way to film in 1990. The play expands upon the exploits of two minor characters from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” the courtiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The action takes place “in the wings” of the Shakespearean production, with brief appearances of major characters from Hamlet enacting fragments of the original’s scenes.
Between these episodes the two protagonists voice their confusion at the progress of events of which — occurring onstage without them in “Hamlet” — they have no direct knowledge.
“Rarely in the annals of art, literature and theatre have the sublime and the ridiculous been so thoroughly integrated as they are in this play,” Mufson said. “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are two relatively insignificant characters who find themselves, through no fault of their own, swept up in the tragic consequences of others’ actions. They are the Elizabethan version of collateral damage.”
Particular to the Palomar production will be the onstage “pocket” seating of the audience in and around the action.
“The idea is to create a sort of encapsulated world for the actors and audience,” Mufson said. “As the action of the play transports Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to various locations, the audience is carried along with them.”
Tickets for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” are $12 general, $10 seniors/staff and $8 students. Advance purchases can be made online at www.palomarperforms.com, or by calling the box office at (760) 744-1150, ext. 2453.
Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2 p.m. The Howard Brubeck Theatre is located at 1140 W. Mission Road, on the Palomar College campus in San Marcos.
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