GV performs Shakespeare spinoff play, “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”


GVL / Max Ritchie

Colleen Garcia, Staff Writer

Grand Valley State University recently put on their rendition of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” play this past weekend. The play was performed four times, starting on Jan. 27. The play is meant to highlight the absurdity of human existence. 

Diane Machin is the director of this year’s play and is a visiting professor at GVSU. This is Machin’s first year in Michigan, so this play was special to her as it was her first with the GVSU community.

“I was intrigued to work with these particular students and the opportunity to produce work in an incredible space like the HAAS performing arts center,” Machin said.

The pandemic has brought many long-lasting effects to the theatre community, causing many theatre companies to lose business and eventually shut down. Despite the hardships that have come with the pandemic, it has created new and unique ways for theatre to be produced.

Machin has found creative solutions to lockdowns and social distancing through Zoom. On Zoom, Machin has been able to create and direct an entire short film along with directing an opera using the green screen effects.

“The biggest challenge is being prepared for the unknown variants,” Machin said.

Working through the pandemic has been difficult but as Machin explained it forced her and her colleagues to become more creative. When trying to put on “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,” the actor who played Guildenstern became sick with less than two weeks until the premier of the show. Machin said the pandemic made it even more critical for understudies to be casted.

“A unique person who can step into an existing show and make it feel as if they are as much a part of the energy as this particular group,” Machin said. “To me, it’s training to be a versatile and brave artist.”

Machin gives credit to her understudies: Emmit Miller, who took the role of Guildenstern, along with Hannah Cooke, who took the place as a Tragedian. 

“It is a testament to the maturity and willingness of this company to go above and beyond to produce high-quality work at a very fraught time and take the health and safety of everyone into consideration,” Machin said. 

Throughout the challenges and hardships that the pandemic placed on the theatre community, she described how overcoming and well prepared the GVSU theater department has been throughout the year. 

“Rarely do you get to work with as large a cast like this on such a difficult piece and during a pandemic no less and find yourself constantly laughing throughout it,” Machin said.

Advice offered to GVSU students considering auditioning for the play was to develop a clear picture of the characters. She also emphasized the importance of team bonding, saying it was crucial to work on building solid chemistry with fellow actors when auditioning. 

“To anyone thinking they want to audition, do it,” Machin said. “The experience is valuable regardless if you don’t go into the theater. It teaches confidence and develops empathy.”