In the absurdist, existential comedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the author has created an entire story around two minor characters in Hamlet. It is a fascinating take on what goes on with side characters when the majority of the play is moving forward without them. Neither character truly recalls where they came from. They both just exist. Neither has a backstory, tragic or otherwise. As the story continues, one of the two ponders the meaning of that existence, while the other spends time inventing DaVinci’s inventions before DaVinci was even born. (Note: the DaVinci could just be the movie–it’s been over 30 years.)
The funniest parts are whenever their lines come up in Hamlet, they immediately go back into character. One moment one of them is discussing the deeper meaning behind things, the next, they are having a full-blown Queen’s English conversation with Hamlet or another character, straight from the Shakespeare. Then, once the play has moved away from them, they return to their previous states of pondering and inventing and whatnot.
I thought of the story when I was trying to find a way to describe how I feel these days. It is as if I am suspended in nothing until such a time when I am to interact with the main characters of the play. Whether it is the professor of my one fully synchronous, but online, class, or a student in my session, or my supervisor via email. Otherwise, I am floating in the ether. I exist, but what is that existence? I am a part of this play, but only a side part in the main play of each character’s life.
All the world might be a stage and we players may play our parts, but I feel like I am either Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. Which? I do not know, and neither did they ever find out which of them was which.