Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim, Good Night, Tweet Prince
The authors of this article run the website Everyday Shakespeare (@EverydayShakes on twitter), which has been brightening many a Shakespearean’s life since October 2009. They have both kindly agreed to publish their work here under a Creative Commons 3.0 SA BY licence. As they introduce themselves and their work in the body of the article, I’ll hand over to them without further ado.
The life of a Shakespeare professor can be a lonely one: hours spent holed up in a library researching obscure theories about Hamlet’s sweat, or in a sunless office writing up lecture notes. That’s why we decided to start writing our blog, Everyday Shakespeare. We wanted to get some fresh air and have a little more fun with our favorite Renaissance man.
Before we got started, we had some decisions to make: Would we ‘out’ ourselves by using our own names (something most academic bloggers avoid for fear of looking un-professorial)? Would we talk about our kids? How often would we post? We’re both working moms, so we knew we were taking on a big challenge. We decided to give each day of the week its own gimmick so that we wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. We were hoping that what was stifling in our everyday lives (Monday=soccer practice; Tuesday=PTA), might be freeing when it came to our everyday blogging lives (Tuesday=Magic Shake-Ball; Friday=Homebaked Shakespeare). With our schedule in place, and a blog workshop under our belts, we were ready to go.
We let down our hair, took a deep breath, and climbed out of the Ivory Tower. What we found was an undiscovered country populated with actors, teachers, obsessed Bardolators, and people on the fringe of the Shakespearean fringe. We found out that people wanted to talk about performances they’d seen, quotes they loved, characters they related to, what Shakespeare had to say about chickens — you name it. They joined the debate when we had Margaret of Anjou weigh in on the Tiger Mom controversy and Richard III review “Game of Thrones”. It was exhilarating and unpredictable. We couldn’t believe we’d been missing out on all this fun. We were hooked.
For us, blogging also confirmed what we’d both felt over the years as we poured over his characters and stories: Shakespeare was a guy who gets us, who understands our sleep-deprived, stressed out, carpooling existences even though we’re living in suburban Boston and he’s, well, dead. Shakespeare’s humor and wisdom about some of the most painful issues in our lives had always been a reassurance and a comfort — and a lot cheaper than therapy. Now we had an international support group! We got fabulous feedback when we talked about how Shakespeare nailed depictions of teenage bullies, marital sex, and parental guilt. People cyber-laughed at our McSweeney’s pieces, “Letters to Santa from Shakespeare’s Characters” and “willslist”, our craigslist parody where we imagined Lady Macbeth trying to hawk a bloody mattress and Hamlet looking to sell his shower caddy and Ikea dresser before jumping off the Wittenberg University bell-tower.
We like to think that Shakespeare would have approved of what we’re doing. After all, for someone like him who was determined to win over wealthy folks and groundlings alike, the far-reaching democracy of the blogosphere would have been a dream come true. Not to mention the international possibilities. Shakespeare fantasized about foreign lands, and the people he might have met there; with the internet, he could have Friended all of them.
We don’t know what Shakespeare would have tweeted, but we do know he’d have had millions of followers.
He had us at “Good morrow”.