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Diagnosing the Bard on Twitter: Part 1

Michael Kahn has experienced Twitter. On Thursday, he took part in a discussion about the “Soul of Shakespeare.” The discussion was coordinated by former American Theatre Wing President, and self identified “Theatre Pundit,” Howard Sherman (@HESherman) and the Washington Post’s Peter Marks (@petermarksdrama).  Unlike a discussion taking place in a single location, Twitter allows for multiple conversations to shoot off from one beginning. It allows for a multitude of voices, opinions and it allows the doors to open in a way that is impossible when an event is bound to a building. Kahn was able to provide his unique perspective on Shakespeare as text, in performance and in the classroom, through STC’s account (@ShakespeareinDC). Tweets that Michael dictated were denoted using the hashtag #mk.

Unlike one of the conversations held in the Forum in Sidney Harman Hall or on our stages following a production, Twitter conversations do not work linearly. You can try to catch up on the discussion by searching the hashtag #pmdhes or reading the Sherman’s transcription on his blog. However, reading in chronological order is difficult when people are responding and posting multiple ideas at once. Engaging over Twitter is a little like being at a party where everyone is talking at the same time – it’s at once frustrating and exhilarating.  You have to choose your conversation and actively follow. Personally, I enjoy that type of engagement. You can choose when you want to add to the conversation and you can choose when you would like to listen.

Due to other obligations, I was unable to follow the #pmdhes discussion as it took place. Instead I waited until morning to work my way through the transcript. I had the intention of recapping the discussion here on Asides Online but changed my mind while reading. Like theatre, Twitter works better in the moment. Instead, I have decided to write a short series of posts over the next week exploring a couple of the issues brought up within the conversation.

In the meantime, here is one of my favorite little exchanges from the #pmdhes conversation:

Petermarksdrama 2:49 pm: But my daughter started on WS [William Shakespeare] w/ reading in hs [high school] class in original language-hated it. Now won’t go. Period.

Petermarksdrama 2:55 pm: I DO blame the teacher! But now I’ve got a 19 year old who’s convinced it’s not for her. And it IS for her

ShakespeareinDC 2:56 pm: @Petermarksdrama My mother didn’t like Shakespeare. It’s allowed. Give your 19-year-old a break.  #mk

Playwrightsteve 2:57 pm: @ShakespeareinDC @Petermarksdrama Nice! Liking Shakespeare is not a law.

HESherman 2:58 pm: @Petermarksdrama Not everything is for everyone, Peter. That absolutism can be why kids *don’t* like Shakespeare. The pressure.

Petermarksdrama 2:58 pm: @ShakespeareinDC You’re now sounding like the Dr. Phil of the William Shakespeare world, Michael.

Petermarksdrama 3:00 pm: @HESherman It just breaks my heart. But I adore her all the same. #greatkid

ShakespeareinDC 3:01 pm: @Petermarksdrama Good! Then Dr. Phil will shut up.  #mk

Petermarksdrama 3:05 pm: @ShakespeareinDC lol

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