Anderson University Professor Creates Shakespeare App for Actors, Directors

Anderson University Professor James Duncan, one of the leaders of the school's new coding and app development program, developed The Shakespeare App to help actors and directors better memorize lines from the Bard's plays.

A professor at Anderson University is trading lines of ink on parchment for lines of code on an iPad.

Dr. James Duncan, a communication professor at the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences, created The Shakespeare App, a mobile application to help actors memorize the Bard’s eloquent language while preparing for theater productions.

Duncan said the app is a transformative development for those directing and performing Shakespeare’s plays, making memorization easier for actors.

“The core idea of the app is that it will present you the full text, but then it will hide text progressively as you get better at learning something,” Duncan said.

The app’s subtitle summarizes its purpose: “Read. Memorize. Adapt. Publish.” A sleek design allows users to navigate swiftly through the four sections, making it simple for casts and directors to create their own adaptions. Through an in-app purchase, users can upload their adaption to the cloud, making it available to the entire cast.

With all of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays included in the free download, directors and actors have quick access to the material they need for a successful production. Actors may even narrow the focus to their character and the adaptation they are performing.

Duncan’s Shakespeare App is an example of Anderson’s foray into coding instruction. Last year, the College of Arts and Sciences launched a new minor in coding and app development, open to all students, in conjunction with Apple’s “Everyone Can Code” curriculum. Duncan is among the professors who teach the program’s courses.

Dr. Wayne Cox, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said Duncan’s application demonstrates the value of coding across academic disciplines.

“Professor Duncan’s Shakespeare app illustrates this aptly: we are practitioners in our fields, and this applied expertise informs our teaching and improves our classes,” Cox said.