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For more, see the complete Web Citations Index.

August 7, 1997

William Shakespeare Shakespeare is well ensconced on the Internet. Entire collections of his plays exist online along with vast amounts of scholarly material. So why create another Web site devoted to Shakespeare? Encyclopedia Britannica Online recently launched Shakespeare and the Globe: Now and Then to commemorate the re-opening of the Globe Theatre in London. That seems like a pretty good reason.

Having decided (intelligently) not to try to be the comprehensive Shakespearean site (though making good use of links to other Shakespeare resources), Encyclopedia Britannica accomplishes what it set out to do: develop an educational site with an emphasis on Globe TheatreShakespearean acting and Elizabethan stagecraft enhanced by perhaps the most impressive audio and visual features related to Shakespeare anywhere on the Web.

The site holds a rich collection of articles culled from Encyclopedia Britannica's vast resources, and illustrates them with more than 200 historical photographs, drawings, and maps. Critical analysis is provided in six newly commissioned essays by noted Shakespearean scholars, who discuss performance, opera, liberties, the Globe Theatre, music, and film as they relate to Shakespeare.

For the less academically minded the highlight may be Britannica's utilization of multimedia technology. Visitors can take animated tours of the exterior and interior of the Globe Theatre. Interactive maps allow one toPlay watch the demographic sprawl of urban development in London from 1590 (the year the Globe was built) to 1990. And in an extensive area featuring audio and video, one can listen to such renowned actors as Sir John Gielgud and John Barrymore recite famous Shakespearean lines excerpted from their early twentieth-century performances, or watch video clips of Shakespearean scenes performed by such icons as Laurence Olivier and Orson Welles.

One might have certain quibbles with the site's content and design: some of the synopses of the plays are a bit thin; a number of the links in the sections are redundant; there is no use of RealAudio or any other streaming audio/video technology; and whimsical splash screens displaying Shakespeare quotes can make navigation tedious. But these pale in light of the site's strengths. If all the World Wide Web is a stage, then this site makes a dramatic entrance.

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
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