Sir Ian McKellen Releases New Apps to Make Shakespeare’s Plays More Enjoyable & Accessible

tempest app

FYI: Ian McK­ellen, who first made his rep­u­ta­tion per­form­ing at the Roy­al Shake­speare Com­pa­ny in the 1970s and 80s, has just released the first of a series of iPad apps meant to make Shake­speare’s plays more acces­si­ble, espe­cial­ly for high school and col­lege stu­dents.

As McK­ellen explains above, Shake­speare’s plays were orig­i­nal­ly meant to be seen per­formed live in a the­atre, not read as books. And so these apps fea­ture actors per­form­ing dra­mat­ic scenes from the plays, while text scrolls by. They’ve just launched the first of 37 apps. It’s devot­ed to The Tem­pest, runs $5.99 on iTunes, and frankly seems well worth the price. Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch likes it. See below.

The app also includes these fea­tures:

  • The full text of The Tem­pest as pub­lished in the First Folio.
  • A full dig­i­tal ver­sion of Arden Shake­speare The Tem­pest.
  • The abil­i­ty to switch between three dif­fer­ent lev­els of notes depend­ing on the lev­el of reader’s needs.
  • A full break­down and expla­na­tion of every char­ac­ter and all of their lines across every scene.
  • A linked his­tor­i­cal time line of Shake­speare’s life, his plays, his the­atres, and con­tem­po­rary con­text to put it all into per­spec­tive.
  • Video expla­na­tions and dis­cus­sions by both Sir Ian McK­ellen and Pro­fes­sor Sir Jonathan Bate on char­ac­ters, themes, and the mean­ing of the play.
  • A full “play at a glance” with illus­tra­tions and sum­maries to explain the play’s plot with key quotes and events.
  • A his­to­ry of all the major pro­duc­tions of The Tem­pest from the 17th cen­tu­ry to the present day.
  • The option to make notes, copy and high­light text that can be col­lect­ed, cor­re­lat­ed and export­ed for lat­er use.
  • The option to search the play’s full text and essays.

Keep your eye on Heuris­tic Shake­speare’s iTunes site for new Shake­speare apps down the line.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Ian McK­ellen Stars in King Lear

Sir Ian McK­ellen Puts on a Daz­zling One-Man Shake­speare Show

A 68 Hour Playlist of Shakespeare’s Plays Being Per­formed by Great Actors: Giel­gud, McK­ellen & More

by | Permalink | Comments (19) |

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Comments (19)
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  • Cheryl says:

    Won­der­ful teach­ing tool, but not open or free. Would­n’t it be great if it were open­ly licensed, CC-BY?

  • Ayun says:

    This could not come at a bet­ter time! #home­school­ing

  • Cristina says:

    I’m sor­ry, why for iPad only? 😕

  • binMonkey says:

    Please, please, please let there be one for the Son­nets!!!!!

  • Andrew says:

    As Cheryl stat­ed above, this is not free. It should not have a place on this site!

  • Caitlin says:

    This sounds amaz­ing and I love McKel­lan even more for doing it, but the price is going to be a huge fac­tor for a lot of peo­ple. $6 does­n’t sound like much, but, con­sid­er­ing that you can find a lot of this infor­ma­tion via research, YouTube, the library, online cours­es like Cours­era and more, I have a feel­ing a lot of peo­ple, espe­cial­ly the younger peo­ple it’s directer towards, aren’t going to pay. Also, this is the first of 37 apps- that’s a total of $222, which is a pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant expense, not to men­tion a huge amount of mem­o­ry and stor­age on any device. (And I do real­ize that most peo­ple are only going to select a few plays, or at least only a few at a time, but I still feel like this is impor­tant.)

  • Lawrence O'Connor says:

    A won­der­ful idea and I could real­ly use it in earnest for my cur­rent work on The Tem­pest but, sad­ly, my device is too old to install the min­i­mum require­ment of iOS 8.

  • tammi says:

    please make it for android as well ^_^

  • Federica Chalota says:

    Good After­noon! I would like to have this app because I’m a Shake­speare’s fan!!!! It does­n’t mean I’m expert but still.…

  • Federica Chalota says:

    I’m inter­est­ed in your appli­ca­tion. Is it free or not? Thnaks!!

  • Vassy says:

    Yes i would love this app as im a drama/english teacher who loves Shake­speare 😄

  • Matt says:

    There IS an app for the son­nets, though not McK­el­len’s. It IS amaz­ing though. It’s by “illu­mi­na­tions and touch­press.” It was expen­sive as far as apps go ($14 maybe?) — but worth every pen­ny.

  • Matt says:

    There IS one for the Son­nets — though it’s not McK­ellen. It’s also expen­sive but worth every pen­ny. Goads of infor­ma­tion on every one! It’s by illuminations/touchpress (I think they have one for Da Vin­ci as well).

  • David Parry says:

    Only for ipad? Noth­ing for oth­er plat­forms?

  • Nancy Nelson says:

    Oh how I wish android users could ben­e­fit!

  • Kathy MacInnis says:

    This sounds so excit­ing and yet so dis­ap­point­ing that it’s only avail­able through apple. We android users are also Shake­speare lovers.

  • Natalie says:

    This would be great for my kids, if you would only make it for Android also …

  • elizabeth treweeke says:

    Bril­liant idea. Is there an order of the 36 works you will be cov­er­ing and expect­ed date avail­able?

    Many thanks.

  • Kenneth Lee says:

    How may I be informed when each Heuris­tic Shake­speare app is avail­able ?

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