From drama workshops to cartoon animations, teachers are always looking for new ways to bring Shakespeare alive for their students. The latest innovation is an iPad app that enables pupils to explore, experience and examine Shakespeare’s most famous texts.
Developed by Cambridge University Press and mobile app agency Agant, the first two apps were launched last month and focus on Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth.
Cambridge University Press trialled the apps with year 9 pupils studying Romeo and Juliet at St Mary’s School, an all-girls school in Cambridge.
“Our teachers always try to take Shakespeare off the page and on to the stage,” said Charlotte Avery, head of St Mary’s and herself an English and drama teacher.
“It’s a great idea to bring apps into schools in this way because children are so used to using technology outside school.
“Our girls found the apps really easy to use and picked everything up very quickly. They liked the fact that the apps have masses of content at the push of a button, from definitions of words to background notes.”
The Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth apps include full texts of the plays, along with audio performances by actors like Michael Sheen, Kate Beckinsale and Fiona Shaw, photographs from professional productions, plot summaries, glossaries and articles by experts.
They also feature circles showing the relationships between the characters and who is on stage in each scene.
Interactive word clouds allow users to click on a character’s name to check their favourite words and the way in which they are used.
“Cambridge University Press actually existed in Shakespeare’s lifetime so he would have heard of us as a publishing house,” said Matt Harvey, marketing director of Cambridge University Press.
“It seems fitting that we’re the first publisher to take these classic plays to a new level, giving all age groups the ability to delve into his work in an innovative and engaging way.”
The Apps are available from Apple’s App store for £9.99 each. CAPTION: App support: St Mary’s School head Charlotte Avery (left) and a pupil with the new app