Anne Arundel Community College’s community theater program, Theater AACC, will hold performances of the tragicomedy play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” at the Robert E. Kauffman Theater in Arnold starting April 14.
The production features a unique spin on the story of “Hamlet” by focusing on the two minor characters as they plot against their childhood friend, Prince Hamlet, and plan to discover his motives.
“It’s not a typical, American-style comedy,” said Cameron Walker, a second-year AACC student who plays Guildenstern. “It’s really dry and sarcastic. There are a lot of puns in the wordplay and stuff like that.”
The environment in the program tends to be friendly and supportive.
“Everyone is picking each other up and encouraging each other and it's really great,” said Eliza Geib, who plays Rosencrantz and graduated from AACC last summer. “It makes it easier to explore the material and push yourself to your limit because you have a team of people behind you, supporting you.”
The encouraging and cooperative atmosphere fostered by the program provides an intentional lesson for the students working and performing in its productions.
“It’s setting a precedent for students that this is the way you should be treated and this is what you need to know to be professional,” said Madeline Austin, AACC adjunct professor and director of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”
The club started in 1972 under the name “Moonlight Troupers.” Since it was created by college students who often had jobs, most of the participants joined at night or “by moonlight.” The second part of the name refers to both the word “troupe” for a group of theater performers and recognizes the students as “troopers” for their dedication and hard work on the productions they were working on.
In 2003, the club changed its name to Theater at AACC as part of a rebranding process and stayed as a single club with that name until 2022, when the Student Engagement Office decided to separate the student-run club and the faculty-run community program into two distinct entities.
In order to coordinate the change, a few theater club students, including the incoming theater club president for last year’s fall semester, met with AACC theater program coordinator Sean Urbantke to come up with ideas for how to create two separate programs, including the names for the two programs.
“I don’t remember who made the suggestion, but someone said, ‘What about taking the Trouper name again,’ and everybody around the table really liked that idea,” Urbantke said.
Since 2022, the two programs have existed separately and are funded separately. Moonlight Troupers is funded by the Student Engagement Office through student activity fees, and its budget is decided on by the Student Government Association. Some of the Moonlight Troupers’ ticket revenue goes back into the club’s fundraising account. The group is working on improv shows and is looking to put on a fully produced show sometime in the spring or fall.
Theater AACC, which dropped the “at” in its name following the split, is funded by the college’s liberal arts school through academic sources. Ticket revenue for the program goes into the college’s general fund.
Theater AACC is open to the community, but in the rare case of a tie, casting can favor students.
Both programs allow students a high degree of involvement in the production. Urbantke and Austin solicited several students and alumni about ideas for this spring play. “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” was one of the options that the students wanted to work on. Urbantke and Austin plan to continue using student ideas and feedback when looking for plays going forward.
“We want the students to feel like they’re not being just dictated what shows that they do, and that’s definitely been the case in the past,” Urbantke said.
Friday and Saturday performances are set for 8:00pm April 14-23. There will also be Sunday matinees at 2:00pm. General admission tickets are $15. Tickets for AACC staff and faculty, seniors and military personnel are $10 and tickets for Anne Arundel Community College/Anne Arundel County Public Schools students with a valid ID are $5. To purchase tickets, email email@example.com, call 410-777-2457 or purchase online at www.eventbrite.com/cc/rosencrantz-and-guildenstern-are-dead-1730349.