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Historical Background, Dramaturgy, and Design

A man sits on a bench while another man kneels beside it. Six other people look on.
Photo of Lorenzo Rush Jr., Kenesha Kristine Reed, Rob Lindley, Amir Abdullah, Nate Burger, Charence Higgens, Blake Hamilton Currie, and Erik Hellman by Michael Brosilow.

Explore the history behind Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, its dramaturgy, and the design of Court Theatre’s production.

Historical Background

Check out this brief clip of Tom Stoppard discussing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.


  • Faith, Logic, and Misunderstanding: The Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead dramaturgy team grapple with Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and their world.
  • Metatheatre: Read up on this key concept and central conceit of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
  • Improvisation: The titular characters are forced to improvise as they desperately seek answers to the most fundamental questions. Improv comedy was founded not only in Chicago, but just a few blocks away from Court Theatre. Check out this documentary to learn more about its origins! 
  • “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”: Spend time reading this T.S. Eliot poem, the inspiration for Tom Stoppard’s initial concept for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead


  • Culture and Region as Told through Props: Court’s Properties Manager Lara Musard explains the significance of coins in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
  • Behind the Scenes: Scenic Designer John Culbert and Costume Designer Raquel Adorno discuss the design process behind the world of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
  • An Exploration of Aesthetic Legacy: Explore Court’s aesthetic legacy and how it offers crucial context for the visual language of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Posted on March 28, 2024 in Learning Guides, Productions

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