Want to catch a performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor? How about call your friend a “Castilian King urinal”? There’s an app for that.
The Bard on the Beach festival is hoping to promote its 15th-century offerings in a distinctly 21st-century way this year—by developing an iPhone App.
“People who appreciate Shakespeare are still using modern devices, and we wanted to meet them where they actually have their social interactions,” said Lisa Schaffer, director of client relations for app developer B’Stro.
As well as offering play schedules, synopses and trailers, the app also boasts a “Name That Play” trivia game and a Shakespearean insult generator.
“We were sort of looking at different ways to promote Bard on the Beach,” said Ava Forsyth, marketing director for the festival. “What we really wanted to do was make it fun.”
“What we like to do at Bard is sort of bring the education component in while also having fun,” she added. “You can take the time to play a little game or just sort of hang out and have fun with Shakespeare.”
The festival, helmed by Christopher Gaze, enters its 23rd year this summer. When its Vanier Park location was increased to 740 seats from 520 in 2011, its organizers looked for a new way to promote the performances. Forsyth saw an app developed by B’Stro for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and was so impressed she decided to see whether the company would produce one for Bard.
The first version of the app was released for the 2011 Bard season, but this year’s edition features all-new content. The trivia game should please Shakespeare aficionados, while podcasts offering background about the performances are available for the uninitiated. Tickets and parking passes for the plays can also be purchased right on the iPhone.
This year, Bard on the Beach is performing four of Shakespeare’s works: The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor and King John. As well as matinees and evening performances, there will be Q&A sessions with actors, a wine-tasting event and a performance from the UBC opera ensemble. The festival opened June 7, and will run until Sept. 22.
Forsyth is confident that engaging with potential attendees digitally will help expand Bard’s audience.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve gotten 5-stars, whatever the best kind of star rating you can get, it’s achieved that and we have some fabulous comments,” said Forsyth.
Schaffer said that B’Stro, a local Vancouver company, hopes to return again next year to produce an app for Bard in 2013. “It was a fabulous partnership... we definitely got really high level of feedback, they heard a lot from a lot of people that it was great to have, “ said Schaffer. “We look forward to building in the future, and possibly doing Android as a new platform in the coming years to reach even more people.”