The Chatspeare Project

The Chatspeare Project is an attempt to mix high culture and low culture, to bring the works of William Shakespeare to the Web in a highly accessible format, and to be silly for no specific reason.
The project works on the basis of the notion that there are similarities between a play and a chat session. Both involve any number of people engaging in dialog; both involve a (virtual) 'stage' in which people can enter and exit.
As a result, it's easy to see a chatroom being used for the enactment of a play; and since Shakespeare's plays are well-known, publicly available, and popular, they are an ideal candidate for this kind of experiment.
There are several problems with this approach. Firstly, simply displaying the dialog preceded by the characters' names in a standard mIRC-type text-only interface is hardly different from reading the actual text of the play, the only difference being timing; which, in itself, is an unpredictable factor given frequent internet lag.
What's more, the enactment of such a play is necessarily a live event, and logs of the performance are usually only available as plain text files (showing all the text in one go, rather than timing each line's appearance).
Which brings us to the special piece of software called Microsoft Comic Chat. This little-known Microsoft product, freely available for download, presents chat dialog in a comic strip format. Each of the speakers is displayed as a comic character, ranging from humans of different races, both gender and conforming to various cultural clichés, to anthropomorhic animals and aliens. There are twenty-two predefined characters, each capable of displaying a set of 9 emotions. The characters appear in one of several indoor or outdoor settings, each fairly nondescript. Their dialog appears in various types of comic balloons, and the mIRC /me command is displayed as a square descriptive box at the top of an image. All images are the same square size, and show the characters in a total or halftotal cut. Each chatter can select another character to address; this results in speaker and listener being displayed together.
I decided to use these characters to enact William Shakespeare's "Macbeth", the ideal play for this purpose since it's both well-known and short. We start the show with the Dramatis Personae:
DUNCAN, King of Scotland MACBETH, Thane of Glamis and Cawdor, a general in the King's army LADY MACBETH, his wife
MACDUFF, Thane of Fife, a nobleman of Scotland LADY MACDUFF, his wife MALCOLM, elder son of Duncan
DONALBAIN, younger son of Duncan BANQUO, Thane of Lochaber, a general in the King's army FLEANCE, his son
LENNOX, nobleman of Scotland ROSS, nobleman of Scotland MENTEITH nobleman of Scotland
ANGUS, nobleman of Scotland CAITHNESS, nobleman of Scotland SIWARD, Earl of Northumberland, general of the English forces
YOUNG SIWARD, his son SEYTON, attendant to Macbeth HECATE, Queen of the Witches
First Witch Second Witch Third Witch
Boy, Son of Macduff Gentlewoman attending on Lady Macbeth An English Doctor
A Scottish Doctor A Sergeant A Porter
An Old Man
Further installments will be posted to this site over the next couple of weeks.