Shakespeare in the Digital Age

Editors' Introduction

Richard III Group
Tiffany Gordon, Hina Zafar, Glorimar Cepeda, Llana James and Steven Alves

Richard III is a history play that was written by William Shakespeare, and it was printed in approximately 1597. The earliest performance was around 1600-1601 during the Elizabethan era. Since the 1700, the play has had various adaptions on stage. The play opens with the King of Englands brother, Richard who is determined to prove a villain(Act 1, Scene, Line 30) because he wants to be king, and schemes to carry out a series of devious plans to accomplish his goal. Even though the play has so many characters who die, stage directors have tried their best to omit on stage violence. In fact, only Richard is shown dying on stage as every other character in the play dies off stage. An infamous scene that the audience generally anticipates is the heated dialogue between Lady Anne and Richard. Where he successfully woes Lady Anne, and gets her to agree to marry him on the day of  her late husband and father-in-laws funeral! To add to that complexity, Lady Anne knows that Richard is responsible for killing both her husband and late father-in-law. The play has also had various film adaptions, but many argue that the best two versions feature Ian Mckellen and Laurence Olivier, respectively. There is an ongoing debate about whether Richard is a anti-hero, or a victim of his physical appearance which explains why he is treated so poorly.  And we decided that he is a victim of his physical appearance. This play is very popular, and is the blueprint of many stories today due to it’s timeless themes. 

In Richard III, the themes of manipulation, deception, power, guilt, and superiority are dominant throughout the play. All of these themes are influential to modern culture. The genre of visual media was chosen to represent the adaptation of Shakespeares Richard III. Visual experiences are able to captivate the audiences attention and engage them in any subject even if such a matter was foreign to them before. Visual media has the ability to educate on certain topics that are otherwise almost incomprehensible to a wider audience without illustrations. For example commercials that show you how bad smoking can be, someone can warn you and you won’t believe. But If you see images and videos of what it causes it might actually make you believe. Each illustration and video relates directly to the themes represented within each act. The sources will  demonstrate the relationship between pop culture references and Richard III that will give a clear understanding of how the characters connect through their actions and personality traits. It will help audiences to better understand Shakespeares ideas through modern visuals which are easier to understand.

In Act 1, Tiffany connects the themes of power and fear to popular songs, clips from popular television series and comics. Her work demonstrates that Francis Underwood, the protagonist in House of Cards, and Richard both possess Machiavellian traits. For example, when she looks at House of Cards and Richard III, Tiffany compares both protagonists recognizing political power as a force, and both therefore choose to exercise their power by instilling fear. They know that through intimidation and manipulation, they will accomplish their goal. Additionally, she considers how both their choices are influential in modern culture. They are influential because this is still being used in movies, tv shows and in real life. These actions are done daily.

In Act 2, Steven connects the themes of deception and manipulation to the movie Star Wars, Episode III and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. His clips show that people often see through facades and how they do whatever to get what they want. Similarly to how the citizens of England see Richard for who he really is and for his true intentions, in Star Wars, the Jedi are suspicious of the chancellor and his involvement in his affairs, and question how he manages to stay in power for so long. Also in Planet Of The Apes how Koba betrays Ceaser in order to lead the apes into war. 

In Act 3, Hina connects the themes of deception and political manipulation to popular culture illustrations and movies. Her work demonstrates that significant or popular figures often pretend to be one person, but in reality, that is a mere illusion for the common people. For example, in Richard III, Act 3 shows the fact that Richard was able to gain power through the deceptive strategy of using Buckingham to gain the support of the commoners. The "big handillustration  represents the hand of Richard, who through deception manipulates subjects in his kingdom by being the master puppeteer who is pulling the citizens strings. The citizens are not looking up at the puppeteer which means that they are unaware of this manipulation, which makes the deception even more notable. 

In Act 4, Llana also connects the themes of power and manipulation to pop culture films. Her work demonstrates the similarities between Richard and Loki from the movie Thor. For example, each character has a thirst for power and uses manipulation in order to achieve it. Loki manipulates his family in order to be crowned king. He plots against his brother on many occasions to maintain his power. This connection is interesting because Richard also betrays his whole family and state in order to rule and is successful for a little while.

In Act 5, Glorimar connects the themes of superiority and guilt to popular culture, TV shows, and movies. Her work demonstrates different characters that relate to Richards superior attitude towards anyone who crosses his path, and the guilt Richard begins to feel. For example, in the TV series Empire,Lucious is the owner of his music business. Everyone is trying to get to the throne to take over or ruin his business. His music company is Luciouss number one priority, and he feels the need to kill anyone who tries to come between him and his business. After the damage is done, the guilt begins to eat him alive which is demonstrated when he is diagnosed with an illness that might potentially lead into death. This relates to Richard III because Richard also kills anyone who threatens his throne. It’s important because it shows how guilt can come upon you when you live a ruthless life.

Tiffany Gordon, Steven Alves, Hina Zafar, Llana James, and Glorimar Cepeda created this edition with a student audience in mind. However, scholars who may be interested in viewing Shakespeare in a modern light may also find it interesting. Therefore students, scholars, and instructors who are intrigued by Shakespeare, and particularly interested to observe how Shakespeare can be connected to the technological era will find this collaboration to be a refreshing change from the norm.


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