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In season 3 episode 6 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel at around 07:15 there's a notice titled "ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN LIVE!" tacked to a bulletin board in the rehearsal studios.

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN LIVE!

To what does this refer? The first thing that came to my mind is that "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern" is often used as a shortened way of referring to Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, but that did not premiere until 1966, and this episode is set in 1960.

Is it just an anachronism, or was there something relating to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern before Tom Stoppard's play? Is there any mention of this (or more subtle relationship) elsewhere in the episode or the season?

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    Is there any mention of this pamplhet or the play itself in any of the episodes, or does it affect the plot in any way? otherwise it's just trivia.
    – Luciano
    Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 14:30
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    @Luciano That's a great question! And I now realise that it's one of the things I was wondering about when I saw this poster. (I'd already seemed to be heading towards this question in my answer.) I hope you don't mind that I've added it to this question.
    – cjs
    Commented Jul 31, 2022 at 15:15
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    no worries. I made a standalone question just in case and linked to your question
    – Luciano
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 8:36

3 Answers 3

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This is an anachronism. The play advertised is from 1967 and the story is set in 1960. Clearly the set dresser just grabbed some show-bills from the 1960s and didn't care.

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  • This is clearly the best answer. Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 2:17
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The title of Tom Stoppard's play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead" actually comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet. It's a direct quote from (Hamlet. Act V, Scene II, line 411) (see here):

An ambassador from England arrives on the scene to bluntly report "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead" (Hamlet. Act V, Scene II, line 411);

The pun is that "live" here can both mean "not recorded", but also the verb "live" as in the opposite of "are dead".

Actual text from Shakespeare:

The sight is dismal; And our affairs from England come too late: The ears are senseless that should give us hearing, To tell him his commandment is fulfill'd, That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead: Where should we have our thanks?

So this is not an in-universe anachronism, in that it's a play on Shakespeare's words. Out of universe it's no doubt a reference to the Stoppard play too, rather than an original reference.

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  • Why would there be a poster in a rehearsal hall if it's just a play on words? There's lots of other text below the title.
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 14:40
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    @Barmar I'm guessing in-universe it's a poster for a rehearsal of a show called "Rosencrantz and Guilderstein live!" ("live" having a short "I", as in "are alive"), with the italic and exclamation mark meaning "are not dead after all [surprise!]". Given in-universe this precedes the Stoppard play, it's also an out-of-universe joke with the audience.
    – abligh
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 14:47
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    I'd add that puns on this line are not uncommon - e.g. "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are undead" - imdb.com/title/tt1122775/?ref_=nm_flmg_stn_153
    – abligh
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 14:50
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    I wonder if someone can find a screen grab with better focus so we can read the rest of the text.
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 15:16
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    @abligh Doesn't Live! also means in person?
    – user28434
    Commented Aug 2, 2022 at 8:11
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Of course I found it in the Wikipedia page I'd linked after I took a moment to read it through in detail. In the early 1870s, W.S. Gilbert wrote a parody of Hamlet called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, A Tragic Episode, in Three Tabloids, and this is probably referring to that.

To the modern viewer, the reference is obviously far more likely to bring to mind the Stoppard play than this relatively obscure Gilbert play; I don't know if that is intended to have any connection with or draw any parallels to the story in this episode or season.

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