Some of you may be familiar with the play, or at least with the characters it is based upon. R&G (for simplicity please, folks) follows the musings of two young ‘gents sent to deliver a foreboding message to Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Shakespeare gave them no lines, but Stoppard built his career on their pithy banter. The play made Stoppard an instant international success at age 29 when it was first performed. Since then, “Stoppardian” has become a term used to refer to works in which an author makes use of witty statements to create comedy while addressing philosophical concepts.
After R&G, Stoppard wrote numerous plays, and translated many more. He co-wrote “Shakespeare in Love” and is said to have worked with George Lucas on the dialogue for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and with Tim Burton on his film Sleepy Hollow. In 2008, Stoppard was voted the number 76 on the Time 100, Time magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world.
Wait, Tom Stoppard is Jewish? WHAT?
That’s what my theater buff dad said too, when I told him I was writing this article.
Tom Stoppard was actually born Tomáš Straussler in a tiny shoe-making town in Czechoslovakia. Both his parents were Jewish, although neither were observant. His father was a doctor for the shoe company, and once the war preparations began, the family was sent to relative safety in Singapore where his father could continue working for the company. A few years later Tom, his brother and mother were sent to India with their dad to follow. He died soon after, and Tom’s mother married a British army major who brought the family to England after the war.
Tom never knew he was Jewish until the 1990s, when distant relatives told him that all four of his grandparents had been Jewish and had died in Terezin, Auschwitz and other camps, along with three of his mother’s sisters.
Cool Stories, but let’s cut to the chase – I Want the Free Tickets!
TC Jewfolk is thrilled to be able to give away TWO PAIRS OF FREE TICKETS to “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” at Theatre in the Round. You pick the show – anytime between Sept. 10th and the end of the show’s run, October 3rd. All you have to do to win the tickets is answer this question in the comments to this post – Who is your favorite Brit and why? Enter to win by this Friday, September 3rd at midnight. Tix will be drawn randomly via “The Hat.”
See you at the show!
(Photo: Diane S. Murphy)
Impossible to choose! One that leaps to mind is Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) because (a) I’m reading one of his short story anthologies right now and (b) he lives near the Twin Cities, and (c)he’s Jewish.
Easy . . .Daphne Cunningham, one of my friends from college.
Second favorite, James Bond.
But there is also Alfred Lord Tennyson and Wordsworth.
I just did a search of British heroism to see what else I could come up with and learned about Alan Turing.
Sacha Baron Cohen – he has proven to Americans and Britons alike that observant Jews can be hilarious. He’s not afraid to risk his neck to make people laugh. (his first interview as Brueno (gay Austrian fashion icon) was at a skin-head, neo-nazi concert)
Favorite brit—-amy winehouse of course. Anyone that self destructive needs a lot of love.
Hugh Laurie (aka. house) of course. So, maybe he’s not the best most empathetic of doctors, but he’s brilliant and pretty adorable 🙂
Aw, I still can’t believe that Tom Stoppard – the epitome of British wit — is a member of our Tribe. Next thing you know, you’re going to tell me that actresses Lisa Edelstein, Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Connolly are also Jewish. . . .
My two favorites are at opposite ends of the spectrum – Beatrix Potter who wrote the Tales of Peter Rabbit (and was one of the first independent women and conservationists of her age in Britain and Diana Rigg the actress, who portrayed Emma Peel, the secret agent spy in the original TV series the Avengers. For girls growing up in the 60’s she was one to emulate if you wanted to be strong and independent and highly capable.
My favorite Brit is J.K.Rowling. Her rags to riches life story is truly inspiring and her imaginative characters and captivating stories have brought joy to millions of people around the world, both young and small!
Peter Sellers whose movies still crack me up
Our winners are Joshua and Steve! Congrats! The rest of you should all buy tix to this show!