The Houston Shakespeare Festival has long brought the Bard’s best to the Bayou City. Now, the University of Houston-produced festival is bringing Elizabethan-era theatre into the digital age.
Through the smart phone and tablet app Octava, audiences can experience “Pop-up Shakespeare.” The app will deliver pop-up facts related to this year’s plays “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Henry V” during their run July 29 – Aug. 7 at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The free app can be downloaded through iTunes for Apple products or Google Play for Android devices.
Octava has previously been used for classical music concerts including those performed by the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. The Houston Shakespeare Festival will be the first theater event to offer “Pop-up Shakespeare” to patrons.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the Houston Shakespeare Festival for the theatrical debut of Octava,” said Linda Dusman, founder of Octava. “The Houston arts scene is known nationwide for its innovation, and so it's no surprise that Houston audiences will value using their smart phones to enhance their experiences.”
Content for Octava’s “Pop-up Shakespeare” is generated by UH School of Theatre & Dance dramaturgy students under the direction of HSF executive director and school director Rob Shimko.
“I’m very excited that we can offer our patrons a chance to learn more about Shakespeare’s plays as they unfold live on stage,” Shimko said. “We’ve designed it in a way that each ‘pop up’ factoid is tied to a specific moment in the play, and there won’t be so many of them that people will have their eyes glued to their phones the whole time. The app is designed to enrich and complement the live experience.”
The Houston Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 42nd anniversary this year. Former School of Theatre & Dance director Sidney Berger founded the festival in 1975 with the mission of bringing the Bard to the masses.
This year’s festival will spotlight “Much Ado About Nothing” directed by Jack Young and starring Demetria Thomas; and “Henry V” directed by Lenny Banovez and starring Brendan Marshall-Rashid. Performances are free and begin at 8:15 p.m. For more details on the festival and its history, visit the HSF website. Ticket information can be found on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website.