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Sunday, 18 April 2010

Such Tweet Sorrow

One of the first things I discovered during my adventures in twitterland is that the Royal Shakespeare Company is performing an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. On twitter.

The play is called Such Tweet Sorrow, and is more or less the story Shakespeare wrote. It's been moved to modern-day England, and the cast of characters has been whittled down (and their relationships changed somewhat) but the plot is essentially the same. Except in real time, over the course of 5 weeks, rather than staged in a couple of hours.

My first thoughts upon reading this were "NO WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU ARE GOING TO RUIN SHAKESPEARE FOREVER AHAKSLFJDKFLJSKLFJASLKFJ!!!!!" All this chatspeak and whatnot. Awful.

But my curiosity got the better of me. I had to take a look. I just happened to hear about it the day it started, so I got it right near the beginning. And I was hooked. Instantly.

While you can make the argument that I immediately leapt to about ruining classic literature... twitter is actually sort of an amazing platform for performance.

For one, it's a way of bringing (slightly bastardized) literary classics to that whole realm of people who would never touch a copy of the play or even consider seeing a performance of it.

But mostly, you can do things on twitter you can't do on a stage. By seeing the day to day lives of the characters, you get to know them in a way that you simply wouldn't in a stage performance. They're like real people to me. I'm glued to my twitter feed, waiting to see what they do next. And they interact with other twitter users. I could theoretically carry on a conversation with them. That's kind of incredible, for a piece of art.

But not necessarily an entirely good thing. Feeling that sort of attachment to characters has its downsides too. I mean, we all know how R&J ends, right? Already, I have to keep reminding myself not to get attached to the characters because it probably won't be more than a week or so now before @mercuteio tweets his last tweet. Being able to stir that intensity of emotion in an audience is an incredible feat - and I suppose plucking those heart strings is what art is all about. Still, though. Killing off characters that you've interacted with is awful. And what will I do when it's over?

All in all, though. I approve. It's really neat. Pretty nifty. Y'all should check'er out.

1 comment:

Loud said...

My initial observation is that almost everything in this version will have to be related in the past-tense...unless they're going to have us believe that Mercutio's final actions are to whip out his iPhone and type "a plage on both your houses" before he croaks? But scenes like the balcony scene (which would normally encompass a lot of space and attention) are going to be rather different (ie. "cute boy snuck over the wall last night, *sigh*" etc.)

The cool upside is that you could conceivably follow the exploits of all the characters, even the off-"stage" ones; so we can watch the drunken Montague boys slurring Romeo's name after he ditches them, etc.

I'll be interested to see how they manage to stage the miscommunication that leads to R&J's death in the twitterverse!