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)