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Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet Gets Reviewed by The iPhone Mom

The iPhone Mom says that "If you’ve got a student who is going to take on Romeo & Juliet this year this app could be a sanity saver. For parent and child!"

"I am absolutely delighted to let you all know about the app Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet. Delighted! This app review is for anyone out there with a Junior High or High Schooler who will be tackling Shakespeare this coming school year. I can’t remember when I first had to read Shakespeare in school but I’ve always enjoyed and marveled at his works. His creativity and ability to shape sentences amazes me. But…I know not everyone feels that way and the thought of dealing with one of Shakespeare’s plays gives many students nightmares. This is why I’m very excited to review Shakespeare in Bits. If you’ve got a student who is going to take on Romeo & Juliet this year this app could be a sanity saver. For parent and child!

I’m not even quite sure where to begin because there are so many wonderful things about Shakespeare in Bits. I think I’ll try breaking it down by the different buttons that show up at the bottom of the screen and we’ll go from there.

Play - The Play button takes you to the beginning of the Play, in this case Romeo & Juliet. On the left side of the screen is a movie. On the right side is the play’s text. When you play the movie you’ll be viewing an animated reenactment of the text on the right side of the screen. This text will be highlighted as it is narrated in the movie. The animation includes narration featuring Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale. It’s taken from —— You can always read the text without watching the movie.

As you read through the text you will notice that some phrases are highlighted by boxes. If you tap on these phrases the words will change into more modern language. For example, in the prologue the words read “Two households, both alike in nobility.” Tapping on the word nobility will change it to “dignity” so the line now reads “Two households both alike in dignity.” It makes a little more sense that way. In the margin next to the text are tiny circles with the letters “L” and “H” in them. Tap on “L” and you’ll see an explanation about the language being used in that section. Tap on “H” to read about the history that relates to the lines. I think these features are absolutely fantastic.

In the Play section you can read the play’s text or see notes on the section. These notes are an explanation of what is going on it that particular scene. You can also view a synopsis of the scene. All of this puts a modern explanation on Shakespeare and makes the play easier to understand.

Scenes - The Scenes button pulls up a scene index. Here you are allowed to choose an image that will launch a scene in the play. This will allow you to start the play from any point that you wish.

Cast – This is probably my favorite part of the app and I think the developers made a brilliant move here. Tapping the Cast button brings up a list of the characters in Romeo & Juliet. Tap on a characters name and you will see their name, age, main characteristics and associates. Tap on an associates name and you’ll be shown their character information. You will be able to read a summary of that character’s actions in the play. There is also an illustration from the animated movie so you can identify the character visually. In addition to the cast information there is a relationship map. This visually maps out how all of the characters are connected to each other. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

Analysis - The analysis section is broken down into several sections. There is the plot summary, themes from the play, key imagery and notable quotes. Information about William Shakespeare is also included here.

Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet is available in an iPhone or iPad version. I tested out the iPad version and it is slightly different from the iPhone due to the screen size. In the Play section I mention the movie appears next to the text on the screen. This is how it will be on the iPad, it won’t show up that way in the iPhone version. The content is the same but it’s presented in a different way. The team behind Shakespeare in Bits is currently working on Macbeth and they’re planning to launch the app around November. I think they’ve created a tremendous tool for students and I hope the app’s do very well so they can continue to develop more plays.

The iPhone and iPad versions both have a free version. They only contain the beginning of Romeo & Juliet but they will give you a look at what you’ll get with the full version. I highly encourage anyone who’s going to work with this play to give the apps a trial."

The iPhone Mom

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