Monday, April 18, 2011

Alas, poor Osric - Twitter Hamlet ends

I was actually planning on writing this week's reflection on critically evaluating sources and sharing some of the neat discussion that my students have conducted on the subject recently (for which I have Justin Bieber to thank). That will have to wait until next week, because the fictional character I played for over a month as part of Danika Baker's "Brevity is the soul of (t)wit" project has stopped tweeting. The play is done. Over. Finite. The end.

As people who've actually read or studied Hamlet may recall, Osric actually only appears in one scene of the whole play - Act 5, Scene 2. However, thanks to the improvisational nature of this Twitter project, Osric has been involved even before the beginning. As art imitated life in this experiment, it just made sense. People don't appear out of nowhere. They exist and interact even if they are not "front and centre" at the moment.

It was neat to see how this one-note character developed and changed as he tweeted. Please forgive me but I find it difficult to talk about me as Osric - he seemed to take on a life of his own even though I was the one typing his words. Occasionally I'd write Danika to let her know I was "holding Osric back" from tweeting too much by having him lose his laptop, have a hangover, or get stuck in the airport without a power cord and a low laptop battery. She must think I'm crazy. I know I've secretly rolled my eyes at authors who claim their characters are the ones calling the shots but I guess I can't mock them as severely as I once did.

Osric stayed true to his character - he was a ridiculous fool and a big suck-up - but he also turned out to be a good friend to Laertes and I think he was quite upset when he discovered his idol was not as perfect as he once believed. On the Saturday of the final day of the play, I made sure to keep Twitter up on my computer, even though I was running a meeting of the editorial board for OSLA's magazine at the same time. Osric's interaction with Hamlet and Horatio was so much fun that I laughed out loud when one of them DM'd the other to say "If he [Osric] likes him [Laertes] so much, why doesn't he marry him?" I became a bit worried when the final battle came and Laertes didn't seem to be online. How could we do this without Laertes? Thankfully, it worked out just fine. In fact, due to how it played out in the end, I believe that Osric could be seen as the parallel to Horatio - the obedient friend to an emotional and passionate young man. Can you imagine what the play would be like if, instead of Horatio, Osric reported things? When I talked about the play (as I did often) with my husband and I discussed Osric's fidelity to Laertes, he replied something like "But Laertes is just a big jerk! He's a thug - you'd have to be blind or an idiot to follow him!" and I agreed. At first I thought Osric's fawning words were just his knee-jerk reactions to all people above him, but I think Osric hero-worshipped Laertes.

I don't know how much time the other "Twit-actors" spent in thinking about their characters. I suspect that many of them put a lot of work into it. Some of the tweeted videos, photos and songs were just perfect. I know I tried my best to make the quotes that Osric chose in his #Quote2day hashtag as well as the books he read and reviewed in his Goodreads account reflect what was going on in the play at the time. It gave me the chance to realize how influential Hamlet is to literature around the world and read some classic books I might not have read otherwise.

I had to admire how our director went with the flow of things. At first, I questioned why Lady Annalis, a character not found in the play itself but one that made sense in the grand scheme of things (after all, Ophelia had to have female friends!), suggested that King Claudius was making unwelcome advances towards her. However, it resolved itself in my head as Lady Annalis' protective father prevented her from visiting the castle, keeping her away from Ophelia and helping to create the feeling of total abandonment and despair that led to Ophelia's death. I understood the rationale completely, and kudos to the person who played @cool_court_chick for setting it up so well. I really hope our director blogs a list of the people who were connected to each character. I want to make sure I congratulate each one thoroughly on their performances. (I tried to do this in direct messages I labeled "out of character", but they sounded a bit too "Osric-y" in their flattery!)

Today's post didn't have much to do with school libraries, but I hope it reflected some learning that happened for me as a part of this project (and I hope it helps Danika with her MEd portfolio). I'd post the links to the various blogs documenting the Twitter Hamlet play, but I want to get this published before Monday turns into Tuesday!

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