Royal Shakespeare Company retelling Bard's Romeo and Juliet with cast of six over five weeks and 4,000 tweets.

But soft! What tweet through yonder iPhone breaks? It is the east, and @julietcap16 is the sun.

Actually, Juliet Capulet is probably offline at the moment: being only 16, she has to go to school even on her birthday, where to her indignation Twitter is banned. She'll be back. And there's a big party planned for the night that could change all their lives: does any of this sound at all familiar? The Royal Shakespeare Company on Monday joined with the cross-platform production firm Mudlark and TV station Channel 4's digital investment fund, 4iP, to launch Such Tweet Sorrow, a drama in real time and 4,000 tweets, very roughly based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

The Bard of Avon's 1597 tragedy of flirty, street-fighting teenagers disastrously caught up in the double trauma of real love and their parents' murderous small-town rivalries is already one of the most adapted of his works. It has been continuously reinvented as an opera, a ballet, a musical, a lesbian love story, a geriatric love story and even an ice show.

This time, Juliet is the daughter of a successful property developer. Her mother died in a car driven by the artist Montague; her father will no longer tolerate any of his works in the house, much less his son. Her brother Tybalt is well on his way to being expelled from his latest boarding school, and their older sister Jess, nicknamed Nurse, keeps well out of the way of their new stepmother.

Juliet — “Totally haven't introduced myself yet! My name is Juliet. I'm 15 and SO proud to be a Capulet!” was how the actor Charlotte Wakefield announced herself on Saturday — spends quite a lot of her time in her room, and has helpfully posted a video of it on YouTube, lingering on a photograph of her late mother.

Such Tweet Sorrow is being improvised by a cast of six RSC actors from a story grid, taking in audience responses and real events, with author Tim Wright helping out Shakespeare. He said he would have to find a way of working the election into the narrative. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010


Twitter and a newspaper untie a gag order October 20, 2009

More In: Comment | Opinion