In the play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" which was published 1967, Tom Stoppard retells the story of "Hamlet" from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's perspective. Ros and Guil, as they are affectionately named in this text, follow the basic plot Shakespeare has written for them, but become the main characters in this version. .
Wether or not "Rosencrantz & Guilenstern are dead" can exist as a play in its own right, without the audiences understanding of the play "Hamlet" is a rather interesting question, in that "Ros and Guil are dead" would be more greatly appreciated if the audience had an understanding of Shakespear's "Hamlet", however that is not to say that they NEED and understanding of "Hamlet" in order to enjoy Stoppard's play.
In Tom Stoppard's interview with Jon Bradshaw in 1977, Stoppard explains "the play had no substance beyond its own terms, beyond its apparent situation. It was about two courtiers in a Danish castle. Two nonentities surrounded by intrigue". What is meant here, is that when he wrote this play, it wasn't supposed to be the sequel to "Hamlet", merely the same play through different eyes, in which case an understanding of "Hamlet" is not necessary in order for "R & G are dead" to exist as a play. However, the last section of that quote "Two nonentities surrounded by intrigue" shows that Stoppard is refering to the intrigue Ros and Guil are given in the play "Hamlet", by saying this he means that in order for "Ros and Guil are dead" to be interpreted better, one would need to have an understanding of Shakespear's "Hamlet", and therefore stating that "R & G are dead" can exist as a play in its own right, but is more greatly appreciated when the audience has an understanding of Hamlet.
In Stoppard's conversation with Gussom M. in 1995, he described his play "R & G are dead" as being "about Shakespear's "Hamlet" as seen by two people driving past Elsinore.