Play explores characters’ surreal lives

NANAIMO - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead premieres Thursday (Nov. 1) at Malaspina Theatre.



Hamlet rushes on stage.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern appear –  their existence beginning when Hamlet enters their lives.

Hamlet rushes off stage.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern remain and are left struggling with the question of their existence. It sparks a journey of exploration to find identity and the purpose of life.

What do they do? Who are they? Why are they alive?

“These characters are lost,” said Leon Potter, director of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. “We have a short time on this Earth between being born and dying and it’s what you do with that time.”

The play, written by Tom Stoppard, premieres tonight (Nov. 1) at Malaspina Theatre. It explores the events taking place in the background of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

These two characters live in a strange reality. The oddity of their lives inspired Potter to take the characters out of their Elizabethan context and transport them to a surrealist world of Paris in the 1930s.

The premise for the world is based on the paintings of Belgian surrealist artist René Margritte.

Margritte is known for works of art that place ordinary objects in an unusual context, such as his painting The Son of Man where a green apple is placed over a man’s face.

“That became the influence for the look of the show,” said Potter. “It depicted the feeling of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because they really are placeless.”

Potter said people might not realize that despite the fact the characters are taken from William Shakespeare’s tragedy, the characters aren’t confined to the grief and rage depicted in Hamlet. Stoppard has added humour.

“It’s very funny. It’s a comedy,” said Potter.

The actors have been rehearsing since October to bring the play to life.

Bobby Katnich and Taylor Bates play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and it’s up to the audience to discover which is which. Samantha Pawliuk is the Player.

Vancouver Island University theatre department presents Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead tonight (Nov. 1) to Nov. 10 at the Malaspina Theatre, located at 900 Fifth St.

Evening shows begin at 8 p.m., with a matinees Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. and Nov. 7-8 at noon.

Tickets are $12 or $10 for seniors and students and are available by calling 250-740-6100 or at the door.

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