Internet messaging service Twitter is the setting of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new production, a modern interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.
Such Tweet Sorrow, which was launched today, is the world’s first professional Twitter-based performance of Shakespeare.
Six actors will tweet – send messages – to each other and their followers in real time over the next five weeks. Audiences can follow and interact with the characters individually on their Twitter feeds – the homepages which display a chronological list of messages – or see the whole play unfold on a central website.
Speaking to The Stage, RSC associate director Roxana Silbert, who is directing the production, said: “I am hoping that it will allow a lot of people to follow a really brilliant story in a way that’s accessible and very populist and, of course, Shakespeare was a very accessible, very populist playwright. I think he would have been delighted to see the play moving on.”
For Such Tweet Sorrow, the RSC has collaborated with cross-platform production company Mudlark, which is producing it. The project is funded by Channel 4′s digital investment initiative 4iP in partnership with Screen West Midlands.
Following several creative workshops to develop the modern-day characters, the actors will improvise their tweets based on a day-by-day plot grid, created by writers Tim Wright and Bethan Marlow.
The production will also include the characters’ responses to real events, such as the upcoming General Election. Wright commented on the potential Such Tweet Sorrow might have for a Twitter legacy.
He said: “It is eminently re-performable by any six people on Twitter – just take the mission plans and play it out. So, for schools and other theatre groups it’s quite an interesting idea that you could just keep re-doing it and, because there’s a lot of improvisation, it would be different each time. What we’ve really come up feels more like a board game kit.”
Juliet will be played by Charlotte Wakefield, who played Wendla Bergman in Spring Awakening last year, and James Barrett has taken the role of Romeo. To watch Such Tweet Sorrow and interact with the characters, follow the six on Twitter or see them all on the production’s central website www.suchtweetsorrow.com.