From: GRSF’s Lee
Doug: With the opening of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” Saturday (be sure to get your tickets and your WOW button for the after party!), we thought it would be cool to have a conversation with someone integral in that production rather than our usual playful banter!
Lee: This week we spoke with Lydia Munroe, the Assistant Director of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.” Lydia is a graduate of Saint Mary’s University and this is her first season with us; we could not be happier that she is here.
Lydia: You’re too kind. I love being here and after four years of college in Winona, it has become my second home.
Doug: From your own perspective, what is “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” really about?
Lydia: “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” is a sarcastic look at “Hamlet.” It is playwright Tom Stoppard’s way of letting us explore the characters in Shakespeare’s play in an absurd way that takes his heavy themes and makes them relatable and modern. The play is really fun, using humor to make points about very important topics: life, death, values, etc. What do you do when you “don’t know what to do, or how to act?” It explores the social uncertainty most of us experience in our daily lives.
Lee: Why is this an important play?
Lydia: Well, from a theater history perspective, this play was a turning point in the 20th century in terms of existential playwrighting and the type of theater being produced. Not surprisingly, it has become almost as popular as the play it satirizes! But more than that, it is a play that allows the audience to take an honest look at their day-to-day lives. I know that can be said about a lot of plays, but I don’t think there is another play out there that is as relatable as this one. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are constantly in situations that are common to all of us. They experience the same daily monotony that I, for sure, do, and this play is a cathartic, fun way to really explore why that is okay and how to exist in that reality.
Doug: What makes the Great River Shakespeare Festival’s production stand out amongst the many productions of this play that happen all over the world?
Lydia: One of my favorite things about Great River is that we have a dedicated patron base that takes a strong interest in the company, and thus knows the actors on varying levels, whether it’s running into them at the grocery store or striking up a conversation with them at the local coffee shop at one of the Company Conversations. Their familiarity with Christopher Gerson and Doug Scholz-Carlson will connect them even more to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, which makes the play THAT much more relatable. Also, doing the play in rep with Hamlet is such a smart way to produce the two. The two worlds really blend as Jim Edmondson and Gale Childs Daly pulled things from each other’s productions to create a nice overlap.
Lee: What should the audience expect in coming to see “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern”?
Lydia: Definitely be ready to listen. It is a play based in conversation and isn’t as visual as, say, “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Also, be prepared to ask questions. One of the fun elements of this play is the unknown, and the characters are unsure right along side the audience. It is an opportunity for the audience to engage fully with what is happening on the stage because they share the discoveries and the confusion. It is a very unifying experience.
Doug: What is your favorite thing about the play?
Lydia: It is such a neat show. I love the banter among Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the player. And there is so much physical humor! I am that person who is always laughing out loud in rehearsal because the play is hysterical. It’s just a really fun play that, rather than shying away from the hard questions, attacks them head on and makes it okay to ponder and ask and even walk away without the answer, because you had a good time asking.
Lee: Thanks so much, Lydia.
Doug: So, see you at “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead!” This is one you don’t want to miss!