Whose Screen is it Anyway? Shakespeare in digital Interactive media

  • Gorman, T. (Speaker)
  • Mikko Kanninen (Speaker)
  • Tiina Syrja (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Successive generations have constantly applied new technological approaches to rediscover and reconfigure Shakespeare’s work for their own times, as human beings have striven to create multi-sensory means of examining essential human questions and ethical dilemmas. Nowhere do we find more of these questions than in Shakespeare, whose stories turn these questions into emotionally engaging narratives. Many new and different narrative mediations have appeared in recent years but some basic questions remain unaltered. The “how” we do it, the methodological approaches, change almost daily, but the fundamental “why” remains unchanged.
Currently digital technologies potentially offer the widest range of options for fresh approaches. In the last 20 years, the medium of display on screens has changed, but less so than the definition the “screen” itself. No longer is viewing a collective, fixed time activity. Personal digital screens are available to viewers almost constantly. This radically changes the specificity of the viewing experience. A personal screen gives the viewer complete autonomy over how, where, and when he or she watches, and in which format, language, and order of scenes. Additionally this brings with it, in comparison with other media accessed digitally, a viewer expectation of increased agency, a transformation into participants. If the participant can make choices about the format, why not about the story?
Murray (1997, 2017) has theorised ways in which digital technologies offer the participant immersion, agency and transformation, and has demonstrated how authorship has different meanings in a virtual world. Ryan (2001, 2015) has discussed “the dream of the immersive, interactive narrative” (2015). From a gaming perspective Bogost (2011) and before him Costykian (1994) have challenged both ludists and narratologists to find meaningful application of these technologies to literature. Underlying these questions are theoretical concepts examined by Baudrillard (1994, 1996,1997) and, earlier, Benjamin (1936). But whereas different aspects of these questions have been extensively discussed, the combination of elements, and the application to Shakespeare, have yet to be thoroughly examined. Areas of exploration, amongst many others, might include the following:
If participants have agency, how do we ensure narrative coherence? Does a world in which participants have agency remain Shakespeare’s? In an immersive Shakespeare world, who does the participant become? At whom might such digital renderings be aimed? Do they sit within the province of education, or are they part of the entertainment industry, for which Shakespeare’s plays were originally conceived? Who are the target audience? What can we reasonably expect to achieve? What can these digital technologies genuinely offer to Shakespearean production and reception? Are we hoping to use digital as a gateway to create readers and live audiences, or is digital Shakespeare something else entirely?
Period28 Sept 2019
Event titleShakespeare On Screen in the Digital Era
Event typeConference
LocationMontpellier, FranceShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Human-Computer Interaction