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Opening Theme Music David Brauer Good evening Im David Brauer and this is todays episode of The Arts in Review Today we will be discussing the topic of Transformation or merely imitation by focusing on William Shakespeares Hamlet and Tom Stoppards 1967 adaptation Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead henceforth referred to as Ros and Guil We have here today two special guests - Dr Johnson renowned English lecturer from the University of Melbourne and Tom Stoppard himself So tell me didnt the Elizabethans in Shakespeares age have religious beliefs But when Mr Stoppard wrote his play God only existed amongst a minority Is this not a transformation in context Johnson Yes it is David In Shakespeares era the Christian church was an active participant in all areas of social and political life God death and the afterlife were never questioned Hamlet is on the cusp of two ways of thinking - his medieval beliefs are conflicting with new Renaissance principles however there is no doubt of his Christian faith Stoppard I wrote Ros and Guil in the 20th century was a more sceptical time than Shakespeares where things were what they seemed and there was no deep metaphysical pondering of ones future and God had been declared dead With the threat of nuclear war came new ways of questioning our existence exposing mans fundamental confusion of the world Ros and Guil often convey this confusion throughout the play Hamlets world had been very conscious of the spiritual and I believe I transformed this to a rather existentialist worldview that was prevalent in society during the time I wrote Ros and Guil David So youre saying Hamlets world had God to maintain order whilst this order no longer exists in Ros and Guil due to the God is dead existential belief that prevailed in the 20th century Johnson Yes I believe he is Basically the Elizabethans believed in the Great Chain
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