Half a century after its premiere on The Old Vic stage, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead returns in its 50th anniversary celebratory production. Read a little bit about the play from our Artistic Director Matthew Warchus:
‘In 1988, when I was at Bristol University, I got together with a group of friends to take a play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Though none of us were paid, it turned out to be my first ‘professional’ engagement. The show, a virtually unperformed Ben Jonson play called Sejanus: His Fall, was well enough received to kick-start my life as a director. But the only reason it happened at all was because of the generous support of one donor with Bristol connections to whom we had written a begging letter asking for help. Amazingly, he sent us a cheque. That donor was Tom Stoppard.
I eventually got a chance, years later, to meet Tom and thank him in person and I am so delighted to be presenting this anniversary production of one of his early masterpieces — back on the same Old Vic stage exactly 50 years after its premiere here.
Anyone who is motivated and able to offer financial support to the arts is visionary and heroic in my view. To quote The Merry Wives of Windsor, ‘If money goes before, all ways lie open’. Four hundred years ago, under the patronage of King James I, Shakespeare’s company had a consortium, The King’s Men, to underwrite the risk of failure. Here at The Old Vic, in the process of revolutionising how this theatre operates, we are finding other solutions. But the challenge is great. We’re presenting more work than ever before, and the range of our programming is much wider and more adventurous. Alongside this, we continue to develop our outreach and accessibility projects with a passionate belief in a crucial social mission.
As a not-for-profit enterprise we have to raise more than £3.5 million a year in addition to ticket sales at the box office if we’re to consolidate the position of this famous old building as one of the most vibrant and vital theatres in the world and an indispensable part of London’s cultural landscape. Sincere thanks to our partners in this venture: our Principal Partner Royal Bank of Canada, £10 Previews Partner PwC, and our varied and much appreciated individual, corporate, trusts and foundations supporters for their help. And to you all, who come here and buy a ticket. Every single time you do it helps to ensure our future as a historic, much-loved London icon and enables us to continue our drive to be a new, fresh, exciting and unintimidating cultural beacon.’