Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

BOOK: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
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TOM STOPPARD
was catapulted into the front ranks of modern playwrights overnight when
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
opened in London in 1967. Its subsequent run in New York brought it the same enthusiastic acclaim, and the play has since been performed numerous times in the major theatrical centers of the world. It has won top honors for a play and playwright in a poll of London Theater critics, and in its printed form it was chosen one of the “Notable Books of 1967” by the American Library Association.

“Stoppard is the master comedian of ideas in the English language,” Jack Kroll said about him in
Newsweek
. Each of his stage works has confirmed this view. Theatergoers have been able to admire his wit and thrill to his command of the English language in
Jumpers, The Real Inspector Hound, Travesties, Enter A Free Man, After Magritte
, and
Dirty Linen
and
New-Found-Land
. He is also the author of the novel
Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon
.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

W
ORKS BY
T
OM
S
TOPPARD
PUBLISHED BY GROVE PRESS

Every Good Boy Deserves Favor
and
Professional Foul

Jumpers

The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Travesties

The Invention of Love

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

by Tom Stoppard

Consulting editor: Henry Popkin

Copyright © 1967 by Tom Stoppard

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of such without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated. Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use, or anthology, should send inquiries to Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 841 Broadway, New York, New York 10003 or [email protected]

CAUTION
: This play is fully protected, in whole, in part or in any form under the copyright laws of the United states of America, the British Empire, including the Dominion of Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright union, and is subject to royalty. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, radio, television, recitation, public reading, and any method of photographic reproduction are strictly reserved. All inquiries concerning amateur and stock performances in the united states should be addressed to Samuel French, Inc., 45 W. 25th street, New york, NY 10010, and for professional rights, Peters Fraser & Dunlop, Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street, London WC28 5HA, England.

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 67-30108
ISBN-10: 0-8021-3275-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-8021-3275-8

Grove Press
an imprint of Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
841 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Distributed by Publishers Group West

www.groveatlantic.com

09 10 11 12 75 74 73 72 71 70 69

The first performance of
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
was given in a slightly shortened form on August 24, 1966 at Cranston Street Hall, Edinburgh, by the Oxford Theatre Group as part of the “fringe” of the Edinburgh Festival. The cast was as follows:

ROSENCRANTZ
David Marks

GUILDENSTERN
Give Cable

THE PLAYER
Jules Roach

TRAGEDIANS
Ron Forfar, Nic Renton, Howard Daubney

HAMLET
John Dodgson

OPHELIA
Janet Watts

CLAUDIUS
Nick Elliot

GERTRUDE
Frances Morrow

POLONIUS
Walter Merricks

Directed by Brian Daubney

The first professional production was given on April 11, 1967 at the Old Vic Theatre, London, by the National Theatre Company. The cast was as follows:

ROSENCRANTZ
John stride

GUILDENSTERN
Edward Petherbridge

THE PLAYER
Graham Crowden

ALFRED
Alan Adams

TRAGEDIANS
Oliver Cotton, Neil Fitzpatrick, Luke Hardy, Roger Kemp

HAMLET
John McEnery

OPHELIA
Caroline John

CLAUDIUS
Kenneth Mackintosh

GERTRUDE
Mary Griffiths

POLONIUS
Peter Cellier

HORATIO
David Hargreaves

FORTINBRAS
David Bailie

AMBASSADOR
David Ryall

1ST SOLDIER
Christopher Timothy

2ND SOLDIER
Denis de Marne

COURT AND ATTENDANTS

Petronella Barker, Margo Cunningham, Kay Gallic David Belcher, Reginald Green, William Hobbs, Leonard Pearce, Ron Pember, Frederick Pyne

Directed by Derek Goldby
Designed by Desmond Heeley

The New York premiere of
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
was given on October 16,1967 at the Alvin Theatre. The cast was as follows:

ROSENCRANTZ
Brian Murray

GUILDENSTERN
John Wood

THE PLAYER
Paul Hecht

ALFRED
Douglas Norwick

TRAGEDIANS
Roger Kemp, Dino Laudicina, B. J. DeSimone, Roy Lozano

HAMLET
Noel Craig

OPHELIA
Pat McAneny

CLAUDIUS
Roger Hamilton

GERTRUDE
Anne Meacham

POLONIUS
Ralph Drischell

SOLDIER
Alexander Courtney

HORATIO
Michael Holmes

COURTIERS, AMBASSADORS, SOLDIERS, AND ATTENDANTS

Walter Beery, Stephen Bernstein, Gaetano Bon Giovanni, Margaret Braidwood, Esther Buffler, Alexander Courtney, Elizabeth Eis, Elizabeth Franz, William Grannell, John Handy, Mary Hara, Carl Jacobs, Ed Marshall, Ted Pezzulo, Jonathan Reynolds

MUSICIANS

Bruce Levine, Arthur Lora,
Bernie Karl, Jack Knitzer

Directed by Derek Goldby
Designed by Desmond Heeley

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

ACT ONE

Two
ELIZABETHANS
passing the time in a place without any visible character
.

They are well dressed—hats, cloaks, sticks and all
.

Each of them has a large leather money bag
.

GUILDENSTERN
'
s bag is nearly empty
.

ROSENCRANTZ
'
s bag is nearly full
.

The reason being: they are betting on the toss of a coin, in the following manner:
GUILDENSTERN
(hereafter
“GUIL”)
takes a coin out of his bag, spins it, letting it fall
,
ROSENCRANTZ
(hereafter
“ROS”)
studies it, announces it as “heads” (as it happens) and puts it into his own bag. Then they repeat the process. They have apparently been doing this for some time
.

The run of “heads” is impossible, yet
ROS
betrays no surprise at all—he feels none. However, he is nice enough to feel a little embarrassed at taking so much money off his friend. Let that be his character note
.

GUIL
is well alive to the oddity of it. He is not worried about the money, but he is worried by the implications; aware but not going to panic about it—his character note
.

GUIL
sits
,
ROS
stands (he does the moving, retrieving coins)
.
GUIL
spins
,
ROS
studies coin
.

ROS
: Heads.

He picks it up and puts it in his bag. The process is repeated
.

Heads.

Again
.

Heads.

Again
.

Heads.

Again
.

Heads.

GUIL
(flipping a coin):
There is an art to the building up of suspense.

ROS
: Heads.

GUIL
(flipping another):
Though it can be done by luck alone.

ROS
: Heads.

GUIL
: If that's the word I'm after.

ROS
(raises his head at
GUIL
): Seventy-sue—love.

GUIL
gets up but has nowhere to go. He spins another coin over his shoulder without looking at it, his attention being directed at his environment or lack of it
.

Heads.

GUIL
: A weaker man might be moved to re-examine his faith, if in nothing else at least in the law of probability.
(He slips a coin over his shoulder as he goes to look upstage.)

ROS
: Heads.

GUIL
,
examining the confines of the stage, flips over two more coins as he does so, one by one of course
,
ROS
announces each of them as “heads.”

GUIL
(musing):
The law of probability, it has been oddly asserted, is something to do with the proposition that if six monkeys
(he has surprised himself)
. . . if six monkeys were . . .

ROS
: Game?

GUIL
: Were they?

ROS
: Are you?

GUIL
(understanding):
Game.
(Flips a coin.)
The law of averages, if I have got this right, means that if six monkeys were thrown up in the air for long enough they would land on their tails about as often as they would land on their——

ROS
: Heads.
(He picks up the coin.)

GUIL
: Which even at first glance does not strike one as a particularly rewarding speculation, in either sense, even without the monkeys. I mean you wouldn't
bet
on it. I mean / would, but
you
wouldn't. . . .
(As he flips a coin.)

ROS
: Heads.

GUIL
: Would you?
(Flips a coin.)

ROS
: Heads.

Repeat
.

Heads.
(He looks up at
GUIL—
embarrassed laugh.)
Getting a bit of a bore, isn't it?

GUIL
(coldly)
: A bore?

ROS:
Well. . .

GUIL
: What about the suspense?

ROS
(innocently): What suspense?

Small pause
.

GUIL
: It must be the law of diminishing returns I feel the spell about to be broken.
(Energizing himself somewhat. He takes out a coin, spins it high, catches it, turns it over on to the back of his other hand, studies the coin—and tosses it to
ROS.
His energy deflates and he sits.)

Well, it was an even chance . . . if my calculations are correct.

ROS
: Eighty-five in a row—beaten the record!

BOOK: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
2.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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