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This presentation deals with a portion of my senior ENAM thesis, which focuses mainly on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard. The specific portion that I presented at the Symposium examined Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead‘s relation to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and to my knowledge is the first sustained and in-depth comparison between the two works. My presentation examines the precise nature of the relationship between the two works, as well as how events within Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead modify and enrich our understanding of Hamlet. Within Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern feel they have no free will; however, we can perceive the overall causes and effects of events in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead because of our prior knowledge of Hamlet and in that way can recognize the limits and contradictions of both predestination and free will.

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John Goerlich
Researcher

John Bertolini
Sponsor & Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts

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As arguably the most famous playwright that Russia has ever produced, Anton Chekhov has written works that have been read and performed on an international level since their first publication in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His literary genius has helped to further the genre of realistic theatre with a tragicomedy of simultaneous humor and melancholy unique to his plays. In comparing three contemporary dramatic literature adaptations of Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya to the original (Sam Holcroft’s Vanya, Howard Barker’s Uncle Vanya and David Mamet’s Uncle Vanya) I will prove that Chekhov’s particular use of tragicomedy creates a human universality that dramatists try to emulate to this day, while each individually adjusts the test to fit his own distinctive writing style and vision for the plotline. This comparison asserts that classic works of dramatic literature contain an isolated universal human element that compels playwrights to create modern adaptations.

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Cori Hundt
Researcher

John Bertolini
Sponsor & Ellis Professor of English and Liberal Arts

Scene from Sam Holcroft’s Vanya performed as part of 10-Minute Plays during the 2011 Spring Student Symposium.

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A MiddLab Project

Deconstructing Butter

Learn more about theatre and race at Middlebury College.

Can a fiction based upon a hoax tell us anything about who we are? “Spinning Into Butter” is a controversial and award-winning play, inspired by a racial incident that occurred while playwright Rebecca Gilman was a student at Middlebury in the early ’80s. On April 9th a multi-racial cast presented scenes from “Spinning Into Butter,” interspersed with audience reactions, to explore the script, its source material, and how we experience and respond to race at Middlebury in 2010.

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