A blue-tinted composition showing some Shakespeare characters masked inside speech bubbles

Such Tweet Sorrow

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Shakespeare on Twitter by the professionals.

Romeo and Juliet in real time across Twitter and the web, with six Royal Shakespeare Company actors living the story in a UK town in 2010.

After a series of digital workshops with the RSC in 2009, we suggested performing one of his plays on the emergent social network Twitter. Channel 4 said they’d back it so with six actors, RSC director Roxanna Silbert, playwright Bethan Marlowe and interactive writing doyenne Tim Wright we worked out how to make that happen.

Such Tweet Sorrow on Vimeo.

Working with a wall-size story gird that plotted the action for each of the characters over five weeks (except for those unlucky to die early) daily missions were then written for each actor, who could then “act” from wherever she or he could get online.

Such Tweet Sorrow grabbed media attention and attracted thousands of followers. Several hated seeing Shakespeare perverted, others loved the way the story rolled out across the internet. Romeo could be found playing COD on Xbox Live well before he opened his Twitter account. Mercutio attracted a tram of diehard fans who campaigned on Facebook to keep their hero alive.

A fan-arranged online wake was held for Mercutio, echoing the earlier masked Twitter ball, both with music from last.fm and Spotify.

Such Tweet Sorrow won a Royal Television Society Award for Digital Innovation.

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