Two nights of live theatre from The Acting Company feature a classic Shakespeare tale and a version with a contemporary twist
February 20, 2014
The Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech presents two nights of live theatre by nationally touring repertory theatre and arts education program, The Acting Company. The first night features the company’s interpretation of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” The second night’s performances — “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” — is a contemporary twist on the previous night’s classic tale.
The performance of “Hamlet” will be on Thursday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m., and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” is Friday, March 7, at 7:30 p.m.
Both performances will be held in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Moss Arts Center’s Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.
The company’s stop in Blacksburg features the first production of “Hamlet” in The Acting Company’s 40-year history. The play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet exacts for his father’s murder, setting him on a journey seeking his personal mortality. It vividly portrays overwhelming grief and rage while exploring themes of danger, revenge, and moral corruption.
Ian Belknap, The Acting Company’s artistic director, brings this classic work to life, having previously directed The Acting Company’s “The Comedy of Errors” and John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
This performance includes a post-show question-and-answer session with members of The Acting Company.
The company’s second performance is “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” which centers on the misadventures and musings of two minor characters — childhood friends of the Prince — from “Hamlet.” Creator Tom Stoppard, with credits including “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Real Thing,” and “Coast of Utopia,” personally gave The Acting Company the rights to tour his Tony Award-winning play.
Structured as the inverse of “Hamlet,” the title characters are the leads, not supporting players, and Hamlet himself has only a small part. The duo appears on stage in this play when they are off-stage in Shakespeare’s play, with the exception of a few short scenes in which the dramatic events of both plays coincide.
In “Hamlet,” Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are used by the King in an attempt to discover Hamlet's motives and to plot against him. Hamlet, however, mocks and outwits them, so that they, rather than he, are executed in the end. From Rosencrantz's and Guildenstern's perspective, the action in “Hamlet” is largely nonsensical and comical.
Tony Award winner John Rando directs this play for The Acting Company, as he did Trevor Nunn’s “Comedy of Errors” in 2001.
Members of The Acting Company will also lead two Shakespearean scene study and monologue workshops with theatre students in Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts, focusing on customized scene study and monologue.
Founded in 1972 by producer, director, and actor John Houseman and current producing director Margot Harley along with members of the first graduating class of Juilliard’s Drama Division, The Acting Company performs each year in over 40 cities and reaches more than 30,000 students with its arts education programs. They promote theatre and literacy by bringing a touring repertory of classical productions and exceptional new works, talented young actors, and teaching artists into communities across America. Hundreds of extraordinary actors — Kevin Kline, Patti LuPone, Rainn Wilson, Jesse L. Martin, Frances Conroy, and many others — began their careers touring with The Acting Company.
Tickets for each performance are $20-$30 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 years old and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, noon to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300.
Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Event parking for visitors is $5. Event passes may be purchased in advance through the Center for the Arts box office or when entering the garage on event evenings. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.