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History Boys Back as Rosencrantz & Guildenstern

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Original History Boys Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker will reunite to take the title roles in Tom Stoppard’s 1966 modern classic Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead.

The new production, directed by Trevor Nunn, opens first at this summer’s Chichester Festival, running from 31 May to 11 June (previews from 20 May) and then, as previously tipped, will transfer to the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket as part of Nunn’s current year-long residency there. According to today’s Daily Mail, it will play the Haymarket from 16 June to 20 August 2011, prior to The Tempest starring Ralph Fiennes as Prospero and also directed by Nunn.

Stoppard’s existential comedy turns the spotlight onto the apparently inconsequential experiences of the two minor courtiers in Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are by turn comic, tragic and philosophical as they try to make sense of the pointless and arbitrary nature of their own existence. Premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe before being picked up by the National Theatre and then given its London premiere at the Old Vic (where the National was then based), Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead was Stoppard’s first major success.

Barnett and Parker also had their breakthroughs at the National, starring as Posner and Scripps in the NT’s 2004 premiere of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, roles they went on to reprise on Broadway, on tour and on screen in NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner’s 2006 film.

Barnett won two Whatsonstage.com Awards for his History Boys performance, for Best Supporting Actor in a Play and Newcomer of the Year. His subsequent stage credits have included Dealer’s Choice, The Whiskey Taster and Women Beware Women.

Jamie Parker’s post-History Boys credits have included The Revenger’s Tragedy, As You Like It, A New World, My Zinc Bed, Racing Demon and, as Prince Hal opposite this year’s Olivier Best Actor at the Globe, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 on stage, and Valkyrie with Tom Cruise on screen.

Currently at the Haymarket, the first production in Nunn’s season, his revival of Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path - starring Sienna Miller, James Purefoy and Sheridan Smith - continues until 4 June 2011.


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