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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Hamlet and His Valley Girls Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” at the Black Box Theater

The UMB drama workshop involves nearly seventy students working over a full semester. But this hardly prevents students from mounting other efforts. The Black Box productions, staged after hours in the Harbor Arts Gallery, offer students the opportunity to explore other works than what may be offered in the mainstage production. Short performances, usually under an hour, they come and go quickly – but, since they concentrate so much attention on the actors, they’re just as rewarding as the workshop for the actors – and just as enjoyable for the audience.

The latest example, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” (written by Tom Stoppard), illustrates the possibilities. A full-length play running over two hours, Director, Anton Kress, extracted one of its most famous sections (“Playing Questions,” its called) and buttressed it with enough material to suggest the expansive text surrounding the scene. Yet, with its performance date of November 1 coming at a time when most students are preoccupied with papers and midterms, it was a challenge to find actors for both principle parts.

Theater people aren’t the type to abandon their friends, however, or fail to meet a challenge. Danielle Brennan volunteered for the role of Rosencrantz with less than a week before opening. Still, she leapt into her role with aplomb, lending Rosencrantz an animated quality. Best known for her work as lighting designer, Danielle demonstrates the range of interest most theater students possess: she’s a double Theater Arts and Chemistry major.

For Amanda Kelly – who played Rosencrantz’s intellectual partner Guildenstern – this was only one of many productions she’s been involved in. You probably noted her as the Female Admirer in last season’s production of “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”; you should definitely see her as the County Attorney in the upcoming production of “Trifles.”

For those who don’t know the play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” is a groundbreaking work written in 1966 which examines the lives of two very minor characters from a very major play, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Witty, charming, and quickly moving, it contrasts the lives of all three title characters, their similar fate – all end up dearly departed, deceased, dead – and the different values placed upon their lives: Hamlet is a Tragic Hero; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern merely fill the scene. With its t-shirt and jeans approach, the Black Box Theater production offered enough to catch the gist of the play, yet leave the audience wanting more.

And there are more Black Box productions in the works. On November 15, look for “Dutchman,” a gripping racial drama by Amiri Baraka, directed by Jane Walsh, to be followed by “No Exit,” Sartre’s dark existentialist play, directed by Harbor Arts Gallery curator Ian Boyd.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead – Cast

Polonius / Hamlet:

Anton Kress

Rosencrantz: Amanda Kelly

Guildenstern: Danielle Brennan