Humor, People

John Stoppard on the meaning of his early play

17 July 2010

image From Writer’s Almanac: Stoppard was a drama critic, and while watching a performance of Hamlet he began thinking about the minor characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are hired by King Claudius to spy on Hamlet.
Stoppard decided to write a play that would tell Hamlet from the point of view of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. In Stoppard’s version, they spend the play worrying that their lives have no meaning, and it’s only by participating in Hamlet’s story that they find any purpose. The play was called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1967), and it made Stoppard the youngest playwright ever to have a play staged by the National Theatre in London. He was just 29 years old. When it had its premiere in New York, Stoppard was asked what the play was about. He said, “It’s about to make me rich.”

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