I’m delighted to have done a blogerview (OK, that’s a really lousy neologism for blog interview) with HollowCrownFans. If you don’t know who they are yet, they are two people who are all about making the Bard more accessible. If you haven’t participated in their popular #ShakespeareSunday, it’s typically a themed event where you tweet a quote related to a theme for that Sunday (FAQ). People are quite creative and pull quotes from some of the more esoteric corners of the Shakespearean canon. For me, the best part is simply participating with others actively interested in and sharing about the Bard.
-“Word Crown” in banner from tallforesttowers.tumblr.com
Ways to connect with Hollow Crown Fans:
• When did you first form and who make up HollowCrownFans?
HollowCrownFans was formed in July of 2012, while The Hollow Crown was airing in the UK, though originally our twitter handle name was different. We consist of two admins who are both Shakespeare enthusiasts, one from the United Kingdom and the other from the United States. We met on Twitter during the infamous Wimbledon delay when Henry IV Part 1 was airing. If it hadn’t been for tennis, we may have never met! Our Brit admin was an extra in ‘Henry V’ so you could say we were very early adopters of the series.
• What was the impetus to form HollowCrownFans?
The original mission was to create a group big enough to petition the BBC to release on-set photos of the making of The Hollow Crown in a book format. So many beautiful photos were taken by Charlie Gray, Joss Barrett, and Nick Briggs that we felt a companion book to the series would be the perfect complement…and still do! [the petition]
• Is your reason for the group changing over time?
The scope of the group’s purpose has changed – obviously we’ve outgrown our original mission but our core values stay consistent through changes in focus or priorities: to make Shakespeare approachable and accessible to everyone. Shakespeare still has the stereotype of being incomprehensible and only accessible by a “cultural elite”. We believe, on the other hand, that Shakespeare is demonstrably a part of pop culture and can be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone – a point we try and prove every single day.
• HollowCrownFans seem to form a rallying point for people to share their interest in Shakespeare (and Tom). I know I’ve made connections through #ShakespeareSunday. What have you seen of this community forming around HollowCrownFans and shared interests? What role has #ShakespeareSunday had in building the community? How has it grown?
We are most proud of our community first and foremost! It has spawned “Twitter friends” meeting up for in various cities around the world to seeing Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ or to London to see one of the many Shakespeare productions put on this year or traveling to filming locations as tourists. We’ve seen at least one romance come of a #ShakespeareSunday introduction. And very recently, we connected two actors in a prominent ITV series together on Twitter!
We are constantly amazed by how much the community grows. Every time we think we’ve plateaued something comes along to boost us up again. Our community is so diverse and we are tremendously proud of that. Followers include Shakespeare enthusiasts, students, academics, practitioners (i.e. actors and directors), and institutions. Networks, production companies, publicists, media outlets following as well. And we’d be terribly remiss if we didn’t say that we have the incredible support and passion of Tom Hiddleston’s fan base as one of the largest constituencies. All this diversity makes it exciting for us to create content that is of interest and relevant to that wildly diverse following.
• Where do see HollowCrownFans going in the next year or so? Where do you think your focus will lie?
The news of a second series of The Hollow Crown has breathed new and exciting life into our mission. We will be very focused on keeping up to date with the cast and production of that series and keeping our followers up to date on its progress. That’s something we didn’t have access to for the first series so we are working hard to get news out as it happens. We both definitely have some homework to do to get up to speed on the Henry VI’s and that journey will be shared with our followers.
• Do you see Benedict Cumberbatch’s role as Richard III bringing a new wave of interest and people (although clearly there is already a lot of shared fandom)?
The announcement of his casting in the role of Richard III immediately brought us a new wave of followers and interest. When first series of The Hollow Crown was cast, the two biggest leads (Ben Whishaw and Tom Hiddleston) were virtually unknowns. So given Benedict Cumberbatch is very much the buzz of Hollywood right now we’re very interested to see how this underwrites series 2’s popularity and anticipation.
• What’s the best part about HollowCrownFans?
The community without question. We learn so much from everyone and hope we help others learn too. It’s also been personally life changing for both of us, for so many reasons but it brought us together as great friends and you can’t put a price on that. We couldn’t do this if we weren’t great friends and a great team.
• What’s the biggest pain?
We have never had a bad day at HollowCrownFans so there are no great pains. The worst we can say is you can’t please everyone all of the time. Occasionally people are disappointed if we don’t take their suggestions or retweet them on #ShakespeareSunday but we do try our very best to never let anyone down.
• What kind of time do you spend keeping HollowCrownFans on Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr?
Because we’re on two continents we can provide coverage for news and engage activities for about 20 hours of a day if we wanted to!Sundayis our busiest day by far. We’ve never done time accounting but some days we do virtually nothing, and another day could be 4 hours of work! We work great as a team and we have loads of fun so whatever time we spend flies by.
• What’s your most active channel?
Twitter is by far our most active channel, then Tumblr and then Facebook. We’ve found Twitter to be where our community lies, Tumblr is where we see the most interactions for photos or videos. Facebook is an area we are keen to be more active in but it seems our audience engages primarily on Twitter.
• Do you know anything about the demographics of your followers? What countries we come from? Age ranges?
We only know what Twitter bios tell us. We’ve never invested in any analytics. We do know that we have followers from every continent except Antarctica. The greatest concentration of followers are from the UK and the US by far. As for ages, we have young students following as well as grandparents. We couldn’t even hazard a guess at what age group is best represented!
Thanks to the folks at Hollow Crown Fans for taking time to do the interview but most especially for putting the effort into getting the word out that the Bard is approachable and relevant and for encouraging a community of those who love Shakespeare. Here’s to a shared love of the Bard and the craft of acting.
For a deeper dive into the series that started it all, here’s a look back at a king who grasped for power and handed his crown to the disenfranchised, a king grasping the crown to give it over to a wayward son and the son who became a warrior king par excellence:
– The Hollow Crown – Richard II – A Beautifully Quirky and Intentional Production http://wp.me/p2XCwQ-kj
– The Hollow Crown – Henry IV Part I – From Hal to Prince Henry, a delightful study of character http://wp.me/p2XCwQ-kY
– The Hollow Crown – Henry IV Part 2 – From Prince Henry to King Henry V http://wp.me/p2XCwQ-lK
– The Hollow Crown – Henry V – Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more http://wp.me/p2XCwQ-mb
…let us sit upon the ground And tell sad stories of the death of kings; How some have been deposed; some slain in war, Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed; Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d; All murder’d: for within the hollow crown That rounds the mortal temples of a king. Richard II