Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Travel the Road to Nowhere
Destiny and the desire to control quality of life during perilous circumstances are at the heart of Infinite Jest’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard.
Swept along by the tragic plot of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern desperately seek control of their own destiny — or at least to understand their journey. Stoppard’s classic script serves a feast of wordplay, wit and slapstick while exploring identity, fate and postmortem toenail growth.
Infinite Jest co-founder and producer Bill Gordon expects the play to resonate with audiences weary from the recession.
“There are a lot of parallels between what happens to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and what is happening to a lot of people today,” he said. “People are finding that their quality of life or their purpose in life is out of their control with the economy the way it is, with the unemployment rate where it is. People aren’t as in charge of their own destiny as they might like to be.”
Infinite Jest’s back-to-basics, low-tech production is meant to be heard as much as it is meant to be seen. “It is a play about words,” Gordon said. “It’s about language.” That’s why Gordon thinks Fringe is the perfect environment for this show. “We’re forced to put the focus on the language, because we’re not able to do a lot with tech, not able to do a lot with lights, not able to do a lot with the set,“ he said.
While Infinite Jest’s production is a throwback to the play’s origins, the Infinite Jest cast will add a decidedly contemporary stamp with cross-gender casting. When Gordon first saw what would become his favorite play some 15 years ago, a woman played the role of Rosencrantz. Traditional versions of the play, as well as the movie, in which men play both title roles, do not resonate with Gordon.
“The approach we’re taking with this show is that Guildenstern represents logic and Rosencrantz represents emotion,” Gordon said. “Not to mention, there are hints of homoeroticism in the dialogue, which are made more interesting with cross-gender casting. It’s clear there isn’t a sexual relationship, but the possibility is there.”
A cadre of experienced theatre professionals joined forces under the Infinite Jest banner to stage Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as part of the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival. The seasoned cast has been treading the boards for decades, having performed at established venues throughout Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland. An Infinite Jest Kickstarter campaign exceeded its goal, raising more than $3,000 from 44 donors in less than 30 days.
When the play opens at 8:45 p.m. July 12 at Fort Fringe – Redrum, 612 L St., NW, Washington, D.C., it will mark a return of the play to its Fringe Festival roots. Stoppard debuted the play at the 1966 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Performances: Click on the following performances to purchase tickets, or purchase them online: