An extract on #vnrchy
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern: a pair of schoolmates and childhood friends of Hamlet. They forget who they are quite often. Rosencrantz is simple-minded and is okay with taking things at face value and letting other people do the thinking. Guildenstern is more of a thinker and worries about the consequences and implications for him of an action.
The Player: A travelling actor with his fair share of wits. He speaks of theatre being only about Love, Blood, and Rhetoric. Stating that everything must contain blood, that it is compulsory and that most things end in death. He is often keeping tabs on the young boy Alfred (one of his tragedians).
Hamlet: the Prince of Denmark, nephew to Claudius. Throughout the play he seems to be putting on a different face for different people much as he does in Shakespeare's work.
Tragedians: travelling with the Player, including Alfred. They provide a chorus for the audience and react to specific things that the player says. The Player is often called a puppet master because of the way he controls them as well as everyone else in the play.
King Claudius: the King of Denmark, Hamlet's uncle and stepfather. Sends for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to learn what afflicts Hamlet. Then sends the three off to England with a letter to the English king stating that, as a favour to him and Denmark, Hamlet should be killed on the spot.
Gertrude: the Queen of Denmark, and Hamlet's mother.
Polonius: Claudius's chief adviser. He sees through most of Hamlet's lies and acts but doesn't care enough to bring it to too much attention.
Ophelia: Polonius's daughter. She drifts across the stage from time to time, though no mention of her death is ever present in the play.
Horatio: A friend and schoolmate of Hamlet. He has the last line of the play in the scripted work, which is a direct quote from Hamlet. He says these lines as he is holding his dead friend.
Fortinbras: the nephew of the King of Norway. Appears at the end of the play to take over Denmark, since the Danish monarchy has fallen.
The Royal National Theatre production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had a year-long Broadway run from 9 October 1967, through 19 October 1968, initially at the Alvin Theatre, then transferring to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on 8 January 1968. The production, which was Stoppard's first on Broadway, totalled eight previews and 420 performances. It was directed by Derek Goldby and designed by Desmond Heeley and starred Paul Hecht as the Player, Brian Murray as Rosencrantz and John Wood as Guildenstern. The play was nominated for eight Tony Awards, and won four: Best Play, Scenic and Costume Design, and Producer; the director and the three leading actors were nominated for Tonys, but did not win. The play also won Best Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1968, and Outstanding Production from the Outer Critics Circle in 1969.
The play was profiled in the William Goldman book The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway.
A revival in Burbank, California during the early 1980s featured Matthew Faison as Guildenstern and Lane Davies as Rosencrantz.
The play had a 1987 New York revival by Roundabout Theatre at the Union Square Theatre, directed by Robert Carsen and featuring John Wood as the Player, Stephen Lang as Rosencrantz and John Rubinstein as Guildenstern. It ran for 40 performances from 29 April to 28 June 1987.
Several times since 1995, the American Shakespeare Center has mounted repertories that included both Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, with the same actors performing the same roles in each; in their 2001 and 2009 seasons the two plays were "directed, designed, and rehearsed together to make the most out of the shared scenes and situations".