Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

By Tom Stoppard

Directed by Katrina Stevenson

Extended! Apr. 3 – 27, 2008

Thu. – Sat. 8pm, Sun. 4pm

Tickets: $24.50

Shimberg Playhouse, Straz Center for the Performing Arts

Before winning an Oscar as a writer of Shakespeare in Love, Tom Stoppard delivered another ingenious comic retelling involving the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon. In 1967 he dove into the world’s most famous play, Hamlet, and retold it from the point of view of two bumbling support players. The entire world is a stage, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern play their part, finding themselves unwitting pawns in history’s greatest tragedy.

This contemporary classic of the theater was the winner of both the Tony and NY Drama Critics Circle awards when it premiered. Simply: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the college chums of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and this is the story of what “really” happened behind the scenes. What were they doing there in Elsinore anyway? The Players come and go; Hamlet comes through reading words, words, words; foul deeds are done; Hamlet is sent abroad, escapes death; and in turn Rosencrantz and Guildenstern find their only true exit.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead has also drawn many parallels to another play – Samuel Beckett’s absurdist Waiting for Godot, particularly in the main characters’ feelings of lack of purpose and incomprehension of their situation.

In 1991, the play was turned into a film featuring Tim Roth and Gary Oldman as the title characters and Richard Dreyfuss as the Lead Player. The film won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Stoppard says of his play that “Quite a lot of solemn and scholarly stuff has been written about it…” but insists, “…whatever else it is, is a comedy. My intention was comic, and if the play had not turned out funny I would have considered that I had failed.”

This is a most remarkable and thrilling play. In one bound Mr. Stoppard is asking to be considered as among the finest English-speaking writers of our stage, for this is a work of fascinating distinction.

This captivating blend of solemn soul-searching and slapstick comedy results in a night that spans the spectrum of human emotion, keeping the audience laughing throughout much of the play.

About the Playwright

Tom Stoppard is the author of over two dozen plays and numerous screenplays. Stoppard is considered to be a master of comic invention, visual humor, and remarkably witty wordplay. He uses his considerable skills to investigate philosophical questions in an extremely entertaining manner. In 2007 Stoppard won a Tony Award for his play Coast of Utopia and was also knighted in his home of England.

(L-R) David M. Jenkins and Shawn Paonessa in Jobsite's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. (Photo: Brian Smallheer.)


Paul Potenza on Acting

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Modern-Day Play Clarifies Why Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead – Tampa Tribune

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by Jobsite Theater: What REALLY happened in Hamlet – St. Petersburg Times

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead – Creative Loafing

Cast & Crew

  • Katrina Stevenson – Director
  • Jennifer Longmuir – Stage Manager


  • Jason Evans – Polonius / Tragedian
  • Jaime Giangrande-Holcom – Ophelia / Horatio
  • Kari Goetz – Gertrude / Alfred
  • David M. Jenkins – Rosencrantz
  • Matt Lunsford – Hamlet / Tragedian
  • Michael C. McGreevy – Claudius / Tragedian
  • Shawn Paonessa – Guildenstern
  • Paul J. Potenza – The Player


  • Karla Hartley – Lighting Designer
  • Spencer Meyers – Costume Designer
  • Brian M. Smallheer – Scenic Designer

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