New iPad App Aims to 'Demystify' Shakespeare

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If you've ever wanted to understand Shakespeare a bit better, famed actor Sir Ian McKellan wants to help.

Along with Professor Sir Jonathan Bate, McKellan has developed an iPad app, called Heuristic Shakespeare - The Tempest, that makes it easier to understand Shakespeare's work. The app is actually the first of 37 different apps, all aimed at making Shakespeare plays "more accessible" to the average person.

"Each app is a tool for demystifying one of Shakespeare's plays and making it more accessible to a modern audience," the iPad app's description reads. "Sir Ian McKellen and Professor Sir Jonathan Bate take us on journey of discovery using the world-famous Arden Shakespeare texts and their extensive essays and notes. The apps function is to provide an essential aid to understanding and enjoying the plays in the theatre or on the screen."

The app includes two components—the script, which sits at the bottom, as well as a video and image section at the top. The app highlights components of the script and describes what is meant by each line as it's going on.

"Shakespeare wrote his plays to be seen and heard, not read. Heuristic Shakespeare apps put you face to face with his characters at the heart of each play," the app's description reads. "It makes his language and references easily accessible and helps you understand each play from the inside out."

The first in the series if The Tempest. The app delivers the full text and the ability to switch between three levels of detail, based on the complexity a person is seeking in breaking down the material. It also features video explanations from McKellan and Bate and historical context. Users can highlight text as professional Shakespearean actors perform the play.

The app's creators have a long way to go to fulfill their mission. With just one play in the can, the company will need to deliver 36 more apps as time goes on. If you're so inclined to learn about Shakespeare, The Tempest costs $5.99.

It's also worth checking how much storage you have available on your iPad before you take the leap: the developers say the app will take up approximately 2GB of space once it's fully downloaded.

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