Actor Ian McKellen and Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate want to share their love for The Bard Of Avon with the world, but they know it's not necessarily an easy sell. The reason stems from a factor that actually lies in direct contrast to how most of us experience the author: "Shakespeare didn't intend you to read these plays."
That's according to McKellen in the video above promoting "Heuristic Shakespeare"—a series of 37 apps, each oriented around a different Shakespeare play. CNET reports that the actor and Bate have teamed up to produce the apps, which are designed to bring the works to life for new readers, and make them easier to understand and engage with.
The first app, for The Tempest, has already been released for iPad, while the next 36 have yet to be produced. The app includes the First Folio text of the play and the Arden Shakespeare adaptation in modern English (with full notes and commentary), as well as tons of supplementary audiovisual materials. Users can access synopses and character descriptions, thematic analysis, illustrations, and more.
But the app is more than a collection of useful texts. It also gives users access to one of the world’s most beloved Shakespearean actors and one of the most prominent Shakespeare scholars. As users read the play, they can watch Ian McKellen and a team of professional actors performing each scene. They can also view a series of video talks by McKellen and Bate about the play’s characters and themes.
Both McKellen and Bate believe that the best way to understand Shakespeare is to see his plays performed. To that end, the app unites textual resources and performance, allowing users to engage with The Tempest on different levels. “We found through some research we’ve done with children and young adults that if you’re looking at someone talking to you, you understand the text much more easily,” explains Bate in the video above. “We thought that the iPad had a very special ability to allow you to both read the text and to hear what was being said at the same time, and to control those two things.”
Banner Image Credit: HeuristicMedia, YouTube