Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

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Jocelyn Buckner


Tom Stoppard’s tragicomedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1964), earned the early popularity and the world-wide reputation that such a work deserved, booting Tom Stoppard into the limelight as an up-and-coming young writer. The play itself verges on an absurdist style, but due to the realistic nature of the title characters, the audience members find themselves sympathizing with their plight and lack of knowledge though any theatre goer acquainted with the works of Shakespeare, and Hamlet in particular, will know the final outcome of the play. For those not endowed with such knowledge, however, Stoppard gave the end away. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead on the title page and on the program long before they first appear on the stage. A brilliantly written play, it balances a narrow line between a comedic absurdist representation of two characters who find themselves bereft of purpose and a deeply existential look at predetermination and fate-- the forces that push Rosencrantz and Guildenstern inexorably towards their deaths without their knowledge. This upcoming spring, Chapman University will include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in their season directly after Hamlet. It is my goal to create a lighting design that will reflect the precariously balanced mood of the play, highlighting Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as they share their witty banter. Through the subtle changes in mood brought on by the lighting, my design will leave the audience empathizing with the two faceless henchmen of Shakespeare’s original work: the ultimate absurdity.


Presented at the Fall 2014 Undergraduate Student Research Day at Chapman University.