To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Shakespeare Meets Twitter


Canonized literature meets byte-sized social media in a new project by the Royal Shakespeare Company meant to pitch Shakespeare to a younger generation. We read along as novelist Rick Moody tweeted an entire short story in 140-character tweets, but supplementing The Bard seems like a trickier proposition, at least as it’s implemented in Such Tweet Sorrow, the RSC’s online story tying into its spring production of Romeo & Juliet. The venerable theater (theatre?) troupe’s leading actress, 16-year-old Charlotte Wakefield, has been prepped to tweet as Juliet Capulet for the next five weeks, responding to other actors as well as her Twitter audience and real-life events (to wit, a crush on Robert Pattinson).

We’ve spotted a couple of Twitter gems from Juliet and her nurse, though the narrative is not as entertaining as one would hope — this is William Shakespeare, after all, King of Slang and Olde English patois. So whose Twitter feed would we rather follow? Our suggestions after the jump.

@julietcap16: She’s turning 16, whining about “minging” boys at school, redecorating her bedroom, and mourning her dead mom.

@jess_nurse: Elder sister to Juliet and voice of reason. And ultimately, not that compelling.

Who we’d rather see blowing up the Twittersphere:

IagoOthello‘s villain is sinister, manipulative, and clever, considered one of the most malevolent characters ever written in literature. Sample tweet: @Cassio How does it feel to be the golden boy? The daily beauty in your life makes me ugly 😦

Lady Macbeth — The Queen of Scotland in Macbeth is a super schemer until she’s loses her shit; picture a Twitter breakdown to rival Courtney Love. Sample tweet: Dear blessed Twitter elves, please send stain removal help ASAP! Hubby says I’m losing it but you believe me I am sure!!! Thx all!

Cordelia — The smart, blunt daughter who refuses to play into her evil sisters’ plotting in King Lear. Sample tweet: If Dad has to ask how I much I love him then he can deal with @Regan and @Goneril in my stead. France is awfully lovely at this time of year…

Puck — The mischievous sprite who plays the wise knave in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Sample tweet: Lord, what fools these mortals be! LOL, @Titania is seriously in love with a donkey’s head.

Caliban — One of the most difficult, pathetic Shakespearan characters, Caliban is the brutish monster (“mooncalf”) inhabiting the island in The Tempest. He tries to rape Miranda in an effort to populate the island with a new half-race and plans an ill-fated uprising against Prospero. Sample tweet: Just dreamt that the clouds opened and poured riches over my head. And then I woke up and cried.

Katherina — The eponymous shrew in The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s somewhat misogynistic comedy in which Katherina turns from a willful, independent woman to the cowed wife of that asshole Petruchio. Sample tweet: Marriage is for the birds. No man will ever control me. @Horetensio and @Gremio, take note.

Shylock — The vilified Jewish moneylender in The Merchant of Venice; though Antonio is the play’s protagonist, the modern reader’s take on the anti-Semitism in Merchant puts most of the spotlight on Shylock. Sample tweet: FTW: 1 pound of flesh > 6,000 ducats

Rosencrantz & Guidenstern — We’re assuming the bumbling, sycophantic courtiers in Hamlet have a joint account. Sample tweet: SO CALLED IT. Heads, 92 flips in a row. Guildenstern and his un-, sub- or supernatural forces can suck it.

And as Michael Boyd, the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, told the BBC: “Mobile phones don’t need to be the Antichrist for theater.” Whose Twitter feed would you follow with bated breath?