Shakespeare now comes in “pop culture” not just “tragedy”.
This is not new, and you have probably heard about this –but it is revolutionary. Such Tweet Sorrow is produced by Mudlark – a multi-platform production company – in partnership with The Royal Shakespeare Company. In essence, Such Tweet Sorrow is a rework of the classical Shakespearean play “Romeo & Juliet“. Since its release, this particular play has been reworked and reproduced countless times –so why is this recreation such a big deal? It is digitized. The six actors from The Royal Shakespeare Company are using the social media platform Twitter as a storytelling device. Although the story is slightly altered, and a lot of the original text and discourse is rewritten by writer’s Bethan Marlow and Jim Wright, the drama and original relationships remain true to the original. The actors Tweet in character –confessions, thoughts, and opinions fill their Twitter streams. On the one hand, this type of format is true to Shakespeare’s original because the Tweets are “written” and separate lines are devoted to each character. What differs is in the fact that this is the only method of delivery; there is no body language, costuming, voice tonality to enhance the audiences’ interpretation of the play and their experience. Each character has their own “profile”, this allows the audience to follow each character individually; each character tells their side of the story. Therefore although the characters talk with one another, the “reader” can choose to access the play from a perspective of one character. This signifies that from one general story, can branch of a multitude of semi-stories, depending on the character’s experiences and thoughts.
Interestingly, the producers also set-up a “Community” page where the audience can comment on their Sweet Tweet Sorrow experience. Currently, there are only four comments regarding this production (although it is noteworthy that this production has received a great deal of buzz). Although there are only four comments, they are very telling as to what the audience wants to see in contemporary multi-platform productions; one individual although excited about the production is requesting more viral videos and playlists to go with the Tweets; another individual (also enthusiastic about the production) is explaining that Twitter is a conversational platform, so the characters should also interact with the audience (@ reply) not just with the other characters; as well, one individual complains about the lack of tweets from the characters –demanding a more or less 24-hour theatre performance. Essentially, the audience is requesting more visuals, interaction, and consistency. (Although this is all quality information to storytellers, let’s not forget that this feedback is coming from people who are online and social network savvy.) Director Roxana Silbert and Producer Charles Hunter have also made the conscious decision to extend this story onto other platforms such as TwitPic and YouTube, clearly this is not enough.
Additionally, Such Tweet Sorrow also curates a Tumblr account under the name of Jago *+lovers: “I see everything, but they don’t see me. They don’t know that I am a camera, a spy camera, a cold-eyed reporter, a magpie, a thief. A tea-leaf.” Essentially, Jago is a third gaze –one that analyzes, discusses, and watches the characters. To an extent, Jago is just an audience member, except he also contributes to the happenings in the story. In this production of “Romeo & Juliet” there is no single auteur –the characters, Jago, and most importantly the audience fuse in creating the story –does this signify that authorship is dead? Or has the increase in contributors magnified the significance of authorship?
Below is a video created by @julietcap16 that allows the audience a glimpse into her (love) life: