The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1977 Thursday, 1 December 2005
Date: Wednesday, 30 Nov 2005 23:12:44 -0800
Subject: FYI--Not Too Often a Shakespeare Website Gets Such Publicity
[Editor's Note: I have much more than a passing interest in the Internet
Shakespeare Editions <http://ise.uvic.ca/index.html> as a member of the
editorial board and the editor of the Poems for the project; however, my
affiliation will not stop me from praising site's new design. I was
familiar with the old site from its inception and visited prototypes
during the development of the new pages. Last weekend, I dedicated
several hours to exploring it in depth. The results of the redesign are
truly stunning. The new ISE site is possibly the most important address
on the Internet for Shakespearean with its only serious competition for
that title coming from Terry A. Gray's "Mr. William Shakespeare and the
Internet" and a few of the other "gateway sites" I mention on my "A
Selected Guide to Shakespeare on the Internet"
Editor Michael Best, Creative Director Roberta Livingstone, Chris Chong
and the team at Krucible Solutions, and all of the scholars, actors, and
directors associated with the project deserve the highest commendations.
Further, all readers of SHAKSPER owe it to yourselves to visit the site
and spend some time acquainting yourselves with the wealth of its content.]
Building a binary Bard
By Thomas Winterhoff
Oak Bay (British Columbia) News, Nov 30 2005
Back in the late 1500s and early 1600s, the plays of a relatively
unknown writer by the name of William Shakespeare emerged on the stages
of London's famed Globe Theatre. The most advanced writing implements
the young playwright had at his disposal were quill pens, inkwells and
reams of yellow parchment.
But an innovative website launched Nov. 18 at the University of Victoria
uses the latest multimedia technology to help bring the Bard's classic
dramas, comedies and poetry to life for a whole new generation of readers.
This is actually the "second edition" of the popular Internet
Shakespeare Editions (ISE) website, initially developed by UVic English
professor Michael Best in the mid-1990s. Online visitors to the original
site logged over seven million page visits last year alone. Although
Shakespeare wrote his landmark works centuries ago, Best suggests public
interest in them is just as keen today as it's ever been, even in
countries where English is not a first language - such as China, Japan
"It's a global resource," Best says of the revamped web portal. "We
track the traffic to the site and it's very clear that people are coming
to us from literally all around the world."
The new site offers a comprehensive array of Shakespeare-related
resources, including: an online library (offering electronic versions of
most of the playwright's best-known works); a section devoted to his
"life and times" (which provides a historical context for his work);
technical information on the backstage aspects of various stage
productions (aimed at actors, directors and producers); and a complete
database of every known film and television version of Shakespeare's plays.
Best expects the revised site will continue to serve students of English
literature and university scholars, but he hopes the site's newest
multimedia components will also attract a younger crowd or people who
have not yet been tempted to read the Bard's work.
He notes a number of recent film productions of Shakespeare's plays that
used his original dialogue but placed the actors in a modern setting, in
order to make the text more accessible and relevant for modern audiences.
"I would like to think that the younger students are being introduced to
Shakespeare in a much more exciting way," Best says of newer methods of
presenting Shakespeare's most significant literary works. "It's not so
much a 'scary challenge'."
Best has taught Shakespeare to students for many years. Ever since he
"got excited" about the Internet's emerging technical capabilities in
1996, Best looked for ways to enhance their online learning experiences.
"I was fascinated by the whole multimedia, electronic medium," he points
Shakespeare was a true "multimedia writer", Best adds, and was very
cognizant of assisting actors and directors to visualize how his plays
should appear onstage. A new section of the redesigned website presents
all sorts of "behind the scenes" information on that particular subject.
"We're digitizing things like set designs, costume designs, prompt
books, director's notes (and) programs - all the things that tell you
what goes on backstage in the production," Best says. "We think this is
going to be a resource not just for students and scholars, but also for
actors and directors."
Best is quick to acknowledge the assistance he received from his UVic
colleagues and students in developing the new site, as well as the
financial assistance provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada. The expanded scope of his latest effort
reflects his desire to introduce more people to the literary work of a
man many regard as the English-speaking world's greatest playwright.
"I am fascinated by the new medium," Best concludes. "What we are hoping
to do with the site is inspire the same passion and love for Shakespeare
that we feel - in people from all around the world. We want to do that
by presenting his plays in a whole lot of different ways."
The new Internet Shakespeare Editions (ISE) website can be found at
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
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