Digital Shakespeare

Now this is pretty cool. In Alexander Galloway’s LARB interview, he says, “[W]hat more can you really say about Shakespeare today? There isn’t a whole lot. But if you start counting words, then maybe there is something new you can say.” I thought this was such an interesting way to look at digital humanities, as an entirely new way to evaluate texts that we have collectively evaluated ad nauseam. So this was something that was floating around my mind… and then this morning I clicked onto the NYT Humanities 2.0 and read Patricia Cohen’s “Giving Literature Virtual Life.” She talks about teaching Shakespeare and using Theatron3 to allows students to re-create a performance of “Titus Andronicus” digitally. It’s an interactive theater, and students create the characters digitally and decide where they stand and walk, when they talk, what they look like…

I love this idea! I taught “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” last semester to a group of decidedly uninteresting transfer students and wished there was some other way to break through to them. The 1999 movie did little to help. But Theatron3 would have been such a great way to bring Shakespeare to life. I would love to try something like this in the future! Has anyone seen or tried this before?

Cohen also talks about the information gap between student and instructor—in most cases, the student will be more technological-minded, while the instructor has more scholarly knowledge. “It’s a gap that won’t last more than a decade,” she says. “In 10 years these students will be my colleagues, but now it presents unusual learning opportunities.” It’s important to recognize, and this is something that I struggle with, too, at times, that the students are bringing their own expertise to the table, and digital humanities recognizes that and encourages them to apply their knowledge to English studies. Really interesting stuff.

Works Cited

Cohen, Patricia. “Giving Literature Virtual Life.” The New York Times 21 Mar. 2011. NYTimes.com. Web. 7 Sept. 2016.

Galloway Melissa Dinsman interviews Alexander R. “The Digital in the Humanities: An Interview with Alexander Galloway.” Los Angeles Review of Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Sept. 2016.

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One thought on “Digital Shakespeare

  1. Although I have not used the Theatron3 program, there are a lot of new productions of Shax that are incorporating different technologies. The production of The Tempest at RSC due this season uses motion capture technologies to create both a physical person on stage playing Ariel, as well as an avatar form that will appear on a screen on stage. They’ve been creating a chronicle of the evolution of the project for the last month or so, so the audience (both those who get to see the play, and those who aren’t located in the UK) can witness the technology in its many formats. For a playwright who is usually looked at skeptically by students, these types of productions are steps towards more widespread enjoyment and understanding. Hopefully this is one of the productions they put out on DVD for use in a classroom in the future.

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