Monday, May 24, 2010

Such Sweet Sorrow in the Digital Age

In plays, audiences view the characters as separate from themselves. In Shakespeare’s plays, the characters are often separated from each other by circumstances, as in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare also appears distant to current audiences by the separation of time. In a difficult economy, how to attract audiences by a distant drama? The Royal Shakespeare Company bridges the chasm between characters and audience by the tweeting of its characters in its current production of Romeo and Juliet.

The tweets of Romeo, Juliet and other personages propel them into the space and time of audiences today. The fact that they tweet contemporizes the brands of Shakespeare and the Royal Shakespeare Company. It demonstrates that the RSC knows social media, which should increase ticket sales to younger audiences. Other theater companies could take advantage of social media as an opportunity to use real time to revivify the unreal time of their productions. Imagine the tweets of Ranevskaya and Varya in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Audiences could learn that drama applies to their lives, no matter the era. They may even read Romeo and Juliet.

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