The Royal Shakespeare Company’s micro-blogging treatment of the most famous love story of all has been running for ten days now. Enough time to pass judgment on a genuinely innovative take on Romeo & Juliet.
Such Tweet Sorrow has taken the story out of Verona into 21st Century England. Juliet is bored at school. Her sister, Jess, ran the London Marathon yesterday. The star-cross’d lovers now woo each other on Twitter.
The Twitter version is being improvised by a cast of six RSC actors, working over five weeks with a couple of authors and an RSC director. The timeline is designed to be real-time, so you see (a version of) Shakespeare’s story – the plot that is – unfolding on Twitter.
But not his poetry. As I write this, Tybalt has just come out with: “Could of sworn I just saw that prick @mercuteio leave. Surely he would have the balls to confront me.”
And that’s where I’m left thinking that in this case, the medium is not the message. Romeo and Juliet has seen countless interpretations. But it’s those that retain the poetry, some of the finest the English language will ever see, that work. Baz Luhrmann’s modern re-telling retains pride of place in my DVD collection as a faultless example of cinema. Even the exception – West Side Story – works as a musical, not as a version of Romeo and Juliet.
I applaud the RSC for trying. And I’m sure we’ll find an art form that prospers in Twitter. But for now, Shakespeare isn’t it.
Jenson Button wins Chinese Grand Prix
What has Great Ormond Street hospital got to do with Jenson Button’s victory in the Chinese Grand Prix this morning? Or come to think of it the UK National Air Traffic Control centre? The answer – the same pit lane technology underlies all three.
Last week Mclaren won probably their quietest victory of the year – NESTA’s Open Innovation award. The award is the result of years of collaborating with radically different clients for mutual advantage. At Great Ormond Street hospital its pit-stop crews helped streamline the handover between surgery and intensive care, leading to new hospital protocols now saving children’s lives. At National Air Traffic Services (NATS) staff have been working with McLaren’s engineers to map Heathrow’s taxiways and runways much as they do a Formula 1 track. Then they turn the data into clear visualizations, so air-traffic controllers can plan more effectively, ensuring a more efficient airport, less taxiway waiting time, fewer luggage-collection delays, more predictable schedules for departing passengers.
Open innovation takes a breakthrough or entrepreneurial idea from one sector and applies it to a completely different industry or sector – the further away the better. So Formula One thinking is used to save lives and boost business effectiveness. As we look harder for radical innovation, it’s most likely to be this sort of application of technology in a completely new environment that will deliver spectacular progress.
Right now, it’s not what Jenson Button is thinking about. Nor probably air traffic controllers in the first quiet weekend the skies over Heathrow have enjoyed. But if we need to start to re-think our reliance on air travel, then maybe we should be looking harder than ever at truly open innovation.