stoppard.gif Tom Stoppard (1937- )
ROS: Perhaps they've all trampled each other to death in the rush....Give them a shout. Something provocative. Intrigue them.

GUIL: Wheels have been set in motion, and they have their own pace, to which we are...condemned. Each move is dictated by the previous one--that is the meaning of order. If we start being arbitrary it'll just be a shambles: at least, let us hope so. Because if we happened, just happened to discover, or even suspect, that our spontaneity was part of their order, we'd know that we were lost. (He sits.) A Chinaman of the T'ang Dynasty--and, by which definition, a philosopher--dreamed he was a butterfly, and from that moment he was never quite sure that he was not a butterfly dreaming it was a Chinese philosopher. Envy him; in his two-fold security.

A good pause. ROS leaps up and bellows at the audience.

ROS: Fire!

GUIL jumps up.

GUIL: Where?

ROS: It's all right--I'm demonstrating the misuse of free speech. To prove that it exists. (He regards the audience, that is the direction, with contempt--and other directions, the front again.) Not a move. They should burn to death in their shoes....

--from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

An English dramatist, Tom Stoppard, b. Zlin, Czechoslovakia, July 3, 1937, moved to England with his parents as a young boy and there began a career as a reporter and free-lance journalist. His theatrical career began with the writing of radio and television plays, but his first international success came with the prizewinning Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966), a retelling of Hamlet through the eyes of two marginal characters. Stoppard's inventiveness has continued through a long series of plays--including The Real Inspector Hound (1968), Travesties (1974), Night and Day (1979), The Real Thing (1982), and In the Native State (1991)--as well as a novel (Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon, 1966), radio and television plays, and screenplays for a number of movies.

Bibliography: Andretta, R. A., The Plays of Tom Stoppard (1991); Jenkins, A., The Theatre of Tom Stoppard (1987) and, as ed., Critical Essays on Tom Stoppard (1990); Stammels, Neil, Tom Stoppard (1988).

Text Copyright © 1995 Grolier Incorporated

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