Writing last night about Twitter got me thinking: If Twitter is one of those manifestations of social networking technology that leaves the over-thirty crowd quizically shaking their heads but is native ground for the younger generation, how would it look in the hands of a particularly well-known pair of adolescents?
rmontague: Following the call of true love. . . even if it means trespassing.
rmontague: Do the Capulets have a security system?
juliet15: Nurse is driving me crazy. Gotta get some fresh air.
rmontague: Sitting under a medlar tree. Will she show?
rmontague: Watching, waiting, watching, waiting. . .
juliet15: Standing on my balcony. Moon’s out.
rmontague: Light through yonder window breaks. Juliet is the sun.
juliet15: Sighing. Our families hate each other. Just my luck.
rmontague: She’s on the balcony now. Should I say something?
juliet15: Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? What’s in a name? Refuse thy name. Go with Smith instead.
rmontague: Here goes a shoutout. . .
juliet15: There’s a creepy guy down in my orchard!
juliet15: Ohmygod, it’s Romeo. How did he get in here?
rmontague: Talking to Juliet! Can hardly believe it.
juliet15: So sweet and brave, and such a flirt. See how serious he is. . .
rmontague: Juliet rocks. She said we should add each other as friends.
juliet15: Nurse is calling. Gotta go back inside. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
All right, so maybe the balcony scene loses something in the translation. But Twitter’s idiosyncratic brand of direct address does share interesting affinities with time-honored literacy devices like the soliloquy that provide more-or-less direct access to a character’s thoughts. Given the brief, fragmented nature of Twitter posts, a closer analogy may be to the aside, where a character momentarily steps out of the stage action to address the audience directly. The Twitter version of a play would consist of nothing but asides.