Book Club: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Daniel Renkert

Arts & Culture Editor

  I really enjoy Tom Stoppard as a playwright. His works tend to ask existential questions with clever dialogue and unique premises. This week I’d like to recommend three somewhat related works of writing to read. The first being the titular piece of this article, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. This is a show written by Stoppard which follows two background characters in the Shakespeare play Hamlet through the same time period as the original play. Stoppard tells a different story “in the wings” of Hamlet, following but not beholden to the original plot. The work brings up the duality between art and reality. Stoppard points out the absurdity of theater using his characters as pieces to show that the chaos of life is rarely reflected on stage.

   The second piece I want to present is the comic book Tag and Bink are Dead, the Star Wars version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead if the title wasn’t a giveaway. This comic series follows two rebel spies caught up in the background of the plot of the first and second trilogies. The titular characters, Tag and Bink (no relation to Jar Jar) both purposely and accidentally influence the path of the mainline StarWars stores in a series of hijinx adventures from accidently acting as Vader’s wingmen during the Trench run to becoming force ghosts. Tag and Bink end up shadowing Luke and the main heroes throughout the series helping defeat Vader and influencing the galaxy in unforeseen ways.

   The last piece I want to make a note of is similar to Tag and Bink are Dead. It is a play called Puffs which follows a group of Hufflepuffs through the Harry Potter years at Hogwarts. It is an act of parody which, like the work of Tom Stoppard, shows the offstage lives of the character not seen in the story of Harry Potter. It shows that outside of the spotlight, life is anything but a heroic story with proper referential humor for a parody.

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