Quick, name a play that uses a pandemic and the consequent need for social isolation as a plot twist that leads to tragedy. If you answered Romeo and Juliet, congratulations, you’re right! 

For hundreds of years — literally, hundreds of years — students and adults alike have struggled to read Shakespeare’s plays. That’s in large part because he wrote his plays to be seen and heard, not read. Reading Shakespeare is like reading a movie script — something that is written for actors so they learn and then perform the lines for our entertainment. Or, put another way, the score for a song you like is not the actual song — it’s the instructions that musicians use to play the notes in the right sequence, and with the right emphasis. 

About six years ago, the folks at WordPlay Shakespeare decided to tackle this problem by filming several of Shakespeare’s plays in their entirety, and then placing the performers “onto the page,” next to The Bard’s words. Now, when you read the play, you can trigger the performers on the righthand “page,” and you can hear and see them performing the lines - their emphasis, their positioning, their inflection, their emotion. Everything comes alive, right next to the words of the play. The team at WordPlay has added modern English translations, modern Spanish translations, glossaries, quiz questions on each page, summaries, and other links and materials to help you work with (and enjoy) Shakespeare’s text.

From a technology perspective, all that’s required is a device that supports a Safari or Chrome browser (even smart phones work) and an internet connection. 

Because of the current and special circumstances, New Book Press is offering three WordPlay Shakespeare eBooks free of charge to all schools and parents that request them. They include Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Macbeth. To access the eBooks, you and your students/children will need a username and a password. 

If you are a teacher and would like a free license for yourself and your students, go to thenewbookpress.com/gpb-offer to submit your request.