Metadrama and Themes in Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead/LE THEATRE DES YUAN ET LES THEMES DANS ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN SONT MORTS DE TOM STOPPARD

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Abstract:

English playwright Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is one of the most successful adaptations of Shakespeare's Hamlet, transformed from a revenge tragedy into an Absurd drama. The two minor characters in Shakespeare's play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, are taken into limelight on Stoppard's stage and are apparently at a loss in their new world, thrown into a predicament far beyond their understanding. Like other plays of the Theatre of the Absurd, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead presents in philosophical ways man's lack of absolute values, the problem of freedom and the uncertainty of knowledge and perception. The themes of the play have been familiar in contemporary literature - confusion, helplessness and the absence of identity. This paper is to try a closer look at the application of metadrama in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead to see how the metadramtic is used to reinforce the themes of man's confusion, helplessness and the absence of identity in the play.

Key words: Stoppard, metadrama, theme

Résumé: La pièce du dramaturge anglais Tom Stoppard intitulée Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sont morts est l'une des adaptations les plus réussies de Hamlet de Shakespeare. La tragédie de vengeance est transformé en une pièce absurde. Deux figurants Rosencrantz et Guildenstern dans la pièce de Shakerpeare sont portés sur le devant de la scène par Stoppard. Désorientés sur la scène, ils tombent dans la détresse. Comme d'autres pièces absurdes, cette pièce pleine de philosophie démontre le manque de conception de la valeur parfaite, la détresse de la liberté et l'incertitude de la cognition de l'homme. Ses thèmes sont familiers à la littérature contemporaine- perplexité, solitude et manque de sentiment d'identité. Et l'expression de ces thèmes doit beaucoup à l'utilisation des techniques propres au théâtre des Yuan dans la pièce de Stoppard. L'article présent vise à étudier comment Stoppard emploie les techinques du théâtre Yuan pour faire ressortir ces thèmes.

Mots-Clés: Stoppard, théâtre desYuan, thème

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1. METADRAMA IN ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD

The themes of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead have been familiar in contemporary literature - anxiety and confusion of life, the helplessness under forces impervious to reason, the absence of identity and faith, which are common concerns of the Theatre of the Absurd. Stoppard presents in philosophical ways the lack of absolute values, the problem of freedom, the uncertainty of all knowledge and perception (Brasell, 1985). As far as I could see, the title Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (hereafter 'R and G') itself has indicated the major themes of the play. Like the implication of the modern colloquialism "You are dead", Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (hereafter 'Ros' and 'Guil') are in trouble. The two attendant lords from Shakespeare's Hamlet are thrown by Stoppard into a predicament far beyond their understanding, striving to make sense of their existence yet sill left identityless and helpless. Too trivial and insignificant lives the pair live, with inability for any decisive action, Ros and Guil have long been living dead, as the title has proclaimed even before they make their entrance in the story. The revealing of these themes owes greatly to Stoppard's employment of metadrama, which could be the most characteristic of the play. This paper is to try a closer look at Stoppard's metadramatic devices in R and G to see how they contribute to reinforcing those themes.

2. METADRAMA

The term "metadrama" or "metatheatre", coined by Lionel Abel in his Metatheatre: A New View of Dramatic Form in 1963, has become a familiar notion in the world of theatre. Metadrama generally refers to "the play within the play". Richard Hornby (1986) briefly defined metadrama as "drama about drama" (p31). …