New Book Press
Shakespeare never intended for his plays to be read by his audience – they were meant to be seen. WordPlay Shakespeare combines video and text to create a revolutionary new way to experience Shakespeare on an iPad (coming soon to other mobile devices). On the left side of the screen is the text of the play; on the right is a video window of exceptional classical actors performing a fully staged version of that text.
It is the best of both worlds: the written text married to the performed text, giving the reader a deeper understanding than she might get from either one alone.
The essential form of WordPlay Shakespeare – text and video on the same page – is the brain child of computer-education expert Alexander Parker. I joined the project in the Spring of 2012 to create the vision for exactly how the video would look and feel to best serve the hybrid form we were inventing.
Our primary goal has always been clarity of language and clarity of story-telling. We settled on a clean look – white background, minimal sets and props, neutral street clothes with costume pieces to indicate character – and a very light touch with anything that feels like interpretation rather than illumination of the text.
My vision was for the video to feel like the last run-through in a rehearsal room – that magic moment just before you move into the theater, when the acting choices are sharp and clear, and all the story-telling is being done by the actors themselves.
WordPlay Shakespeare Books are rehearsed like plays and shot like TV. We rehearse for three weeks, exploring and experimenting as if we were rehearsing a production destined to be on stage. We then move to a studio with a built-in white cyc to shoot the entire play with four cameras in about a week.
Macbeth Cast: Jacqueline Antaramian, Michael-Jean Dozier, Francesca Faridany, Carman Lacivita, Roberta Maxwell, David McCann, Kevin O’Donnell, Bhavesh Patel, Tobias Rubin, Raphael Nash Thompson, Tony Ward, Nik Walker
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Cast: Bryan Terrell Clark, Francesca Faridany, Zachary Fine, Brian Hastert, Carman Lacivita, David McCann,Thom Rivera, Miriam Silverman, Kristin Villanueva
Romeo and Juliet Cast: Heidi Armbruster, Ramsey Faragallah, Carman Lacivita, Leicester Landon, Drew Ledbetter, David McCann, Myra Lucretia Taylor, John Leonard Thompson, Raphael Nash Thompson, Kirstin Villanueva, Landon Woodson
Learn more about Wordplay Shakespeare at The New Book Press.
“(WordPlay Macbeth) makes the play appealing and graspable…allows newcomers to experience the nuances of the play, which is rich in irony, hidden intentions and sudden shifts in emotional temperature.” – Kirkus Review.
“A new project called WordPlay Shakespeare attempts to harness students’ aptitude and affection for new technologies to help them engage more easily with the plays… Kids today, for whom pounding down the keys on a manual typewriter would probably qualify as irritatingly strenuous exercise, really don’t know how easy they have it.” – The New York Times.