In the world of Twitter, less is more. 140 characters, to be exact. Shakespeare, whatever he may have had Polonius say, was not exactly known for being brief himself. Most of his plays were five acts and some of the monologues required a great deal of breath just to get through them. But here in the 21st century, some intrepid Tweeters are doing their best to condense The Bard.
In January, Pandora’s Skull set out to write a 140-character synopsis for each of Shakespeare’s plays – without losing any of the details that made it possible to distinguish one from another. On the whole, I thought the project turned out well. It was even fun to test myself to see if I could name each and every one (the abbreviated titles at the beginning helped, naturally). A sampling:
TotS: There is no clear winner in this battle between the sexes, but at least one couple probably ends up having good sex.
H: Mommy issues are just the beginning for a prince with a murdered father and new Uncle/Step-dad. Most everybody ends up dead.
AMND: A love potion straightens everything out and several couples end up happily together. Rustics are mocked. Watch out for fairies.
Meanwhile, in February, Mashable brought to light “Twitter of the Shrew,” an impressive attempt to recreate Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, over the course of 12 days and 19 different Twitter accounts (one for each character). Having browsed a few of the accounts, I feel lukewarm at best about this one. It’s a great idea – in theory. But reducing Shakespeare, who put so much into every line, every beat of iambic pentameter, to a paltry 140 characters seems like such a waste. And you do lose the rhythm of the language, which was a huge part of both Shakespeare and Elizabethan theater.
It’s always interesting to me to see how technology and media are changing the way people experience literature. But I guess part of me is still old-fashioned and thinks that no matter what technological advances are made, the original is still the best.
“Old fashions please me best.” (Bianca to Hortensio, TTofS III, 1)
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