Shakespeare In Bits is one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen in a while. It’s Shakespeare, in bits that are easy to digest – and it’s quite a bit more than that too. My first introduction to this superb concept has been via the Shakespeare In Bits: Romeo & Juliet iPad Edition app.
The app is a wonderful rendering of the famous play – an ‘animated study edition of Romeo and Juliet featuring Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen’.
Here’s a little more detail on the app, via its App Store description:
Don’t settle for cut-down film editions, or lifeless translations of the play text. Shakespeare In Bits features the complete original text combined with all-new dynamic-text features to make understanding quick and easy. Modern translations for difficult words and phrases are a touch away, along with complete study notes for each section, plot summaries, analysis, and everything else you need to make understanding Shakespeare a snap.
In addition, the entire play is presented alongside three hours of animation that illustrates every line of every scene. With a single touch you’ll be treated to a beautifully animated presentation of the current action demonstrating exactly what’s happening.
With all of the benefits of audio, dynamic text, notes editions, and film in a single, easy-to-navigate package, Shakespeare In Bits is the only study guide you’ll ever need.
-The unabridged original play text, broken into easily digested ‘bits’.
– Complete notes, summaries, and analyses for each section.
-A unique in-line translation system for obscure words and phrases.
-Nearly three hours of animation, featuring the voices of Kate Beckinsale, Michael Sheen, and Fiona Shaw. (Audio provided by Naxos Audiobooks).
-Biographies for each character, accessed from the main play or through the cast browser.
-A character relationship map, demonstrating key relationships in the play.
Further, this iPad edition of the product contains several features and enhancements over the iPhone version, including:
-A side-by-side main play view that presents the animations and the text at the same time
-A widened text view with larger font sizes to ensure lines of text are never broken unnaturally
-A text highlight feature, that highlights the current line of text being spoken in the animation
-Text highlight while seeking through an animation video, which allows you to easily navigate to a particular line in an animation
-Additional scene/section navigation options in the main play view
-Simplified tab-bar navigation through all of the features in the play
One of the great things about the Shakespeare In Bits approach is that all of the various ‘bits’ that make up the app are executed extremely well and easy to spend time on. They make it easy to jump in and out of the play, and delve into as much or as little background information as you like in each of your sessions with it. Just a few quick examples of this:
You can see a Plot Summary, for an overview of what it’s all about …
View clever and fun animations that give you a live-action style version of each scene …
Get a synopsis of each scene to aid in your understanding of it (or to use as crib notes) …
Check out the cast of characters …
And learn about some of the famous quotes from the play …
I’ve only looked at the Lite version of this edition so far – as I don’t have a need to get r-acquainted with Romeo and Juliet just now – but it’s shown me that this is a hugely impressive app, and just a wonderful concept for a series of educational apps. The full version of the app goes for $14.99 – and I feel certain that my parents and I would have very happily paid that during the years when I had to study Shakespeare.
There are iPhone full and Lite versions of Shakespeare In Bits: Romeo & Juliet as well – and the App Store page for the iPad app mentions that a Shakespeare In Bits edition of Macbeth for the iPad is coming soon.
I hope we’ll see a large number of Shakespeare’s works brought to the ‘In Bits’ platform. If you’re a student who’s got Romeo and Juliet on the syllabus this year, or a non-student who just wants to get to know the play much better through lovely, bite-sized bits, I think this app looks like a must-have.
You can find the full and lite versions of Shakespeare In Bits: Romeo & Juliet iPad Edition in the App Store now; the full version is $14.99 and the lite version is free of course.