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October 06, 2005 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-06

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 6, 2005 - 9A



By Colleen Cox
Daily Arts Writer
Tom Stoppard's play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
are Dead" is famous for its candid and hilarious views

on human existence, existentialism
and free will. This week, Basement
Arts, led by director and Music
alum Grant Bates, brings the wit
and thought-provoking humor of
Stoppard's masterpiece to campus
A quality that attracted Bates to
this play is the way it relates to stu-
dents' lives.
"One of the things that every-
body seems to be grappling (with)
here are questions about their exis-
tence - 'Where am I going, what
am I doing, who am I, now that I

Are Dead
Tonight at 7 p.m.,
at 7 and 11 p.m.,
Saturday at 7 p.m.
At the Arena Theatre
Frieze Building

sites. Rosencrantz is the light-hearted bumble-brain,
and Guildenstern is the serious and pragmatic worrier.
Their bristling chemistry charges the stage between
character entrances, keeping the audience intrigued
and laughing.
The stage is intentionally sparse, relying on one set,
where Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are suspended in
some form of literary netherworld. The structure of the
play itself is experimental - limited to one stage, a
small cast, major themes and audience interaction - the
play's success wholly rests upon the ability of the actors
to illustrate the turmoil and enormity of their situation.
The characters also interact with the audience, pushing
it further into unconventional territory. Strong actors
are absolutely vital to make this work, and Basement
Arts admirably meets the challenge with its small but
powerful cast.
Onstage, Samela and Kietlinski work wonderfully as a
duo expressing a wide range of human emotion - from
humor to seriousness. Adam Caplan, who plays Hamlet,
tackles his character with an intensity that thrusts the
audience back into Shakespeare's world every time he
enters onstage.
For Bates, keeping the production fun is key.
"One of my favorite things about doing theater is
having fun and (creating) a little enjoyment for about
two hours for other people. I try to impart that to my
Basement Arts tackles a heavy project in this produc-
tion, and it carries it out admirably. The actors are obvi-
ously a part of this group because they enjoy it, and they
bring the freedom of a student-run production with them
to the stage. So relieve your brain from mid-term wor-
ries and give it something exciting to think about. We all
need to indulge in a little existentialism now and then.

am here by choice do I have the opportunity to make my
own destiny or is it preordained?" said Bates. "If people
want to dig deeply enough, that is very much there."
LSA freshman Szymon Kietlinski plays Rosencrantz
and Music sophomore John Samela plays Guildenstern;
the two are trapped in one small corner of the larger
plot of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," waiting for characters
to enter. As they realize that they are only minor char-
acters trapped in a much bigger story, they devise dif-
ferent ways to cope with their situation - interrogating
other characters, philosophizing and generally driving
each other nuts. Building off of the classic "unlikely
buddies" concept, the characters are amusing oppo-

Music sophomore John Samela and LSA freshman Szyman Kletlinski rehearse a scene.



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