The old order changeth and giveth way to the new. And no one is spared, not even the Bard of Avon. No longer do you have to pore over voluminous texts, wiping a surreptitious tear away as you read of the agonies of the ill-fated lovers Romeo and Juliet. The balcony over which the poor girl called out for her swain is a thing of the past for now the timeless love story is on Twitter.
Six actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are e-improvising the playwright’s classic romance by responding to each other and the e-audience through curt soliloquies of 140 characters or less using cellphones. Here, the grammatically-challenged Juliet is grumpy for not being able to tweet from school and her cousin Tybalt doesn’t ‘give a crap’ about being late for his class while Mercutio is thinking about his plans for the evening before ‘picking up’ Romeo. None of that olde English discourse for them, it’s a joint or two and a few down the hatch.
The RSC hails it as a step towards getting the actors and audience closer. Which means it’s quite likely that in future we may hear about, say, a womanising Hamlet tweeting how “there’s nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Imagine King Lear on the heath tweeting his agony over the betrayal of his daughters. The possibilities are endless. For those of us with a short attention span, the prospect of reading War and Peace on Twitter is most appealing. But then again, the three witches from Macbeth meeting on that satanic night tweeting ‘when shall we three meet again…?’ doesn’t quite work on Twitter. We wonder when we can stop writing these lengthy editorials and Twitter them to you instead.