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I, Cinna Online


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For the last six months, Dr Morris has been working with The Royal Shakespeare Company, Cisco, educational network provider, and the London Olympic Committee on a radical project that brings together multiple disciplines in an innovative way. Based around the play I, Cinna (The Poet), written by Tim Crouch, the project aimed to rewrite the way Shakespeare is taught in secondary schools.The play itself takes an incidental character from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and tells the story from his perspective. This was shot as a film, which was streamed to thousands of secondary school children around the UK on 2nd July 2012. The schoolchildren were encouraged to write their own poems during the film, which could be sent for inclusion on the event microsite ( They were also able to send questions, live, after the screening to the writer Tim Crouch, actor Jude Owusu, and author Malorie Blackman, who has taken Shakespeare as inspiration for her own writing. They watched these questions answered during the video stream.

For his Digital Berkshire presentation, Dr Morris will discuss how this project illustrates a trend to much more interactive media and education. I, Cinna (The Poet) is a classic example of "transmedia", bringing together theatre, filmmaking, TV production, website design, social media and user-generated content into one cultural artefact. The trend is increasingly in this direction, and this huge project is only a first step towards media which routinely crosses boundaries, providing greater engagement both in education and in the wider landscape of digital culture. Dr Morris looks at where this trend is heading.

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I, Cinna Online

  1. 1. I, Cinna Online Dr James MorrisSubject Leader, BA (Hons) Web Media Ravensbourne
  2. 2. RSC I, Cinna Project: The Context• Surprisingly few films of Shakespeare made by the RSC itself• Constant need to find contemporary relevance for The Bard• Educational imperative• Desire to “skip a generation” and create something cutting edge• Aim to work with educational institution as part of the process – Young people know best what young people want
  3. 3. RSC I, Cinna Project: The Proposal• Use Web 2.0 technology and philosophies• 50-minute one-man play written by Tim Crouch – Author of The Author and my arm – Growing series of I, xxx plays inspired by Shakespearean cameo characters – Julius Caesar as seen from a minor character• Audience interaction during stage version to be replicated by viewer participation during Web stream – Students write poems and submit them
  4. 4. Three-part project• Film of I, Cinna (The Poet) play• Website to host promotional materials and as focus for event• Live studio event
  5. 5. I, Cinna online• Film live-streamed to 9,000 schoolchildren on July 2nd, 10:30am• Students aged 11+, English or Citizenship classes• Live Q&A followed film, chaired by Konnie Huq, with Tim Crouch, Jude Owusu and Mallory Blackman• Opportunities for students to contribute poems and Q&A• Over 500 poems submitted in first 10 days after event• Partnership between: – Cisco, Ravensbourne, and The Royal Shakespeare Company, LOCOG (part of the Cultural Olympiad)
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  7. 7. I, Cinna is just the beginning…
  8. 8. Technological enablement• Web 2.0 context provides culture of user participation in media – Blogs, social media, instant messaging, user-generated content• HTML 5 allows much tighter integration between media and page – shows some advanced examples – Popcorn Maker: – Popcorn Macbeth• Future projects will use HTML 5 implementation to link user participation directly with video content
  9. 9. Technological inspirations• Groundbreaking music videos – OK Go’s All Is Not Lost – Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown – Rome’s “3 Dreams of Black”• New interactive documentaries – National Film Board of Canada’s One Millionth Tower – Bay Area Video Coalition’s History In These Streets• Tech showcases: –
  10. 10. Bite-size narratives• Dickens – Pickwick Papers serialised in 1836• Comics – Graphic novels such as Watchmen• Gamification – Writer supplies a backstory; gamer provides the linear narrative by interaction
  11. 11. Transmedia Challenges• Create a strong, engaging story• Create a story users want to participate in• Create a story that can mutate with user interaction – Whilst also maintaining a strong narrative drive
  12. 12. thank you any questions? @cyberwest