Jeremy Allen to bring “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” to SUU

Southern Utah University’s Black Box Grant program will be funding a production of Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” The show, which is directed by Jeremy Allen, will be performed in SUU’s Black Box Theatre on Friday, Feb. 3, and Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” follows the titular characters, who are Hamlet’s childhood friends in the Shakespeare play of the same name. At its core, the show is about what Rosencrantz and Guildenstern do during the duration of Hamlet, but it covers themes that are much deeper.

“It’s an exploration of life and death and what it is to be human and what it is to be an actor,” said Allen. “It’s very meta and very existentialist.”

Allen chose to apply for the Black Box Grant to do this show because of the exploration of character and themes within it, which was a quality that was also a draw to the actors involved.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the mortality of characters within their own world and the immortality of actors within the acting world,” said Shay Wilkey, who plays Rosencrantz.

“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” is a comedy, but it isn’t afraid of having a deeper meaning than what is made clear on the surface.

“The show itself doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it does have some very serious topics and conversations in it,” said Wilkey. “I think a lot of people don’t pick up on that unless they know that it’s there.”

The show had a very tight rehearsal process, fitting the whole rehearsal and tech process into three weeks. 

“It would have been ideal, obviously, to have more time to memorize things and finalize a bunch of stuff, but it’s been a lot of fun,” said Wilkey.

Due to the condensed rehearsal schedule, Allen allowed the actors to do a lot of their own exploration and blocking, only inserting his own blocking into specific scenes and moments where it was needed.

“I feel like it came together really well,” said Allen. “I’m very proud of where it is right now, and I think it’ll only get better from here.”

Story by: Tessa Cheshire
Photos courtesy of Ro Christiansen