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NIU to present ‘Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead’

Published: Thursday, March 18, 2010 9:59 a.m. CDT

The next Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance live theater production offers one of the more famous “Theatre of the Absurd” perspectives on a Shakespearean classic.

The school will present playwright Tom Stoppard’s darkly comedic “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” on March 25-28 and April 8-11 in the Stevens Building Players Theatre on the DeKalb campus.

The play is a collision of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and Stoppard’s witty perspective on the life of that story’s characters when they’re offstage, a recent news release said. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are actually minor characters from the Hamlet play who attempt to navigate a disorientating path through their roles in Hamlet. They have neither the resources to understand what is happening to or asked of them, nor the ability to independently determine the meaning of their own existence.

Completing the absurdity of the situation, the costumes, set and style all give the impression of a once grand play that has, through repetition, lost its glory.

“The idea is that they’re stuck in a worn out version of Hamlet that just keeps going,” director Stanton Davis said in the release. “It is gallows black comedy humor, but with compassion.”

In addition to the play’s new take on an old text, the cast brings new techniques to the production as many of them have recently returned from a semester abroad with the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets can be purchased at the Stevens Building box office, located on the DeKalb campus behind the Pizza Hut and McDonald’s restaurants on West Lincoln Highway from noon-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-2 p.m. Friday and one hour before productions.

Tickets also can be ordered by phone at 815-753-1600 or online at www.niu.edu/theatre. Tickets cost $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $8 for students.

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