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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: November 2008

11 - Performing Shakespeare in digital culture

Summary

I began thinking about this essay in the central library of the Czech Academy in Prague, as good a platform as any to stage an inquiry into the ways Shakespearean drama engages with digital culture. It's a large nineteenth-century room, two stories, with a mezzanine of book stacks around the upper level, a large ironwork skylight, and modern furniture. Although the shared computers for internet use are old and slow, the worktables each have several high-speed ports, so that you can connect your own laptop and work at your usual speed; there is high-speed wireless as well. As the day waxes, a number of writers, scholars, and students arrive to check mail, do research, and watch movies online. Cellphones are strictly prohibited, according to the signs at least: we are warned that even one ring will be cause for immediate ejection and loss of privileges. But phones ring, and to judge by the number of people grabbing for their pockets, many people simply have the ringer set to vibrate: there's little apparent concern about having a yellular conversation - at that somewhat irritating, loudish cellphone volume – though most other conversations are ritually hushed. This is not really a problem, though. No one complains, there are even relatively few nasty glances. Some people wear headphones; the woman opposite me seems to be transcribing or perhaps translating a long document, occasionally speaking into a webcam; and between bouts of actual writing, email, and internet searching, I'm playing and replaying the Almereyda Hamlet. Others are watching movies, too, and not always with headphones: a group of college-age men are gathered around a laptop which issues, with increasing frequency, the sounds of screeching tires and muffled explosions.

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