With 23 April 2016 being the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeares death, a group of actors including Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi have come together to help the audience understand every line of the playwrights work. The actors are featuring on the Heuristic Shakespeare app, which launched in London on 22 April. The app aims to bring the writers words to a wider audience.
Ive always felt, since I had to read Shakespeare at school, that wasnt the way to be introduced to Shakespeare or to enjoy him. Shakespeares an enjoyable experience, only really comes alive and you only really understand him if you see the plays on the stage and you are in the same space as the actors who are speaking the lines, said McKellen.
The app, launched by The Lord of the Rings star McKellen and the film director Richard Loncraine, is designed to be used on an iPad. The app user is presented with a scrolling text of the full version of a Shakespeare play. A window shows each member of the cast above the script, and the actor then reads the lines directly into the camera. The first play the app covered is The Tempest.
We did some research and we found that by having not just the text scrolling underneath on the app, the top of the screen I can show you, you can see an actor actually talking and hes always looking at you. He doesnt look at the other actors, he doesnt walk offstage, he doesnt swordfight. He simply speaks the text to you, said Loncraine.
All of Shakespeares 37 plays will eventually be featured on the iPad app. It will include extra features such as access to detailed notes, character maps and a scrollable timeline of Shakespeares life.
Shakespeares not a pageant. Its not something from the past. Hes still relevant because he had this unique genius for understanding us all. Its almost as if Shakespeare invented human beings, said McKellen.