Recently launched website Play Shakespeare.com prides itself on, and actually looks like it will be, the ultimate free Shakespeare resource. Let’s run through it.
All of Shakespeare’s plays are available here, for free of course. The plays are beautifully formatted for the web, organized by hyper-linked scene headings and properly indented – apparently the only place you’ll find the texts properly indented on the web. There’s also two small icons at the top right of each scene. The first opens a new window with only the scene text, and none of the background images, ready for printing at home. The second is an email icon for emailing the a copy of the scene. The window suggests you’ll be emailing it to “a friend” but I think it will be perfect for annoying your favorite local troupe. You can email The Bard’s Bonnie Bog Players all your favorite scenes excised from their last performance.
And don’t worry, you can feel comfortable knowing you’re getting more than you’re paying for when you’re reading here. The texts are based on the authoritative First Folio of 1623 and the Globe Edition of 1866.
And the play isn’t just the thing. There’s a facts section (which I hope to see grow – why not be the ultimate free source for Shakespeare trivia as well), review section, and discussion forum. The forum’s pretty sparse and lopsided right now – the Hamlet section has 382 posts, the Henry’s have 10 in total – but, considering the topic, could itself become an excellent resource on Shakespeare.
I’ll leave you with a quick review from IF magazine:
In his development of the website, Severdia (an actor who has performed Shakespeare in Europe and the United States and holds a Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts Shakespeare Certificate), consulted a team of Shakespearean scholars that includes Julian López-Morillas and Barry Kraft, both noted Shakespearean actors and authors.
“The text can be freely used without copyright or royalty fees for study, research and performance,” Severdia said. “All we ask is that those using the text gathered from the website credit PlayShakespeare.com.”
The website features a user-friendly approach to the text, including an “inline glossary.” Scroll over an arcane or confusing word and a box pops up for easy reference of characters, locations and terminology. Other features on the website include ongoing reviews of Shakespeare productions on stage and screen by a network of noted critics; a links page showcasing the largest and most comprehensive up-to-date list of U.S. and International Shakespeare companies, festivals and organizations, plus a monologue search site and resource site for teachers and students; a discussion forum; and a “Facts” page that includes Shakespeare’s biography and play chronology.
PlayShakespeare.com has already demonstrated that it has worldwide appeal. Since the site went live in April 2006, it has generated nearly one million worldwide visits from countries including India, Malaysia, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Check out Play Shakespeare.com