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Newsletter No 5: 2017 – That was the year that was

In this issue:

Use of our web-site in 2017
Our edition of Shakespeare’s plays
Upgrade to ‘Play of the Month’
Relationships with other Shakespeare-related organisations
Publishing Shakespeare Adaptations

 

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Use of our web-site in 2017

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Use of Players-Shakespeare.com grew quite strongly in 2017. The number of visitors to the site was up more than 100% compared with 2016.

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Many of the new visitors accessed the site using smartphones. Smartphone access grew by over 400% compared with 2016, and now represents 45% of traffic – the largest platform used to access the web-site. This growth introduces its own challenges. We need to make the web-site easier to use on a mobile phone. We’ll be spending some time on that this coming year.

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Geographically, most traffic comes from the USA (44%) with the UK (32%)  the other major market. There are interested visitors from the rest of the world, whom we welcome, but we will continue our focus on the US and UK for some time to come.

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Reviews seem to be the most popular form of content on the web-site. 8 of our most popular 20 web pages were reviews, and there seems to be particular interest in two pages which allow the user to select a Shakespeare production to view at home: Globe Player Shows to watch at home which shows you our rated reviews of productions at The Globe; and Great Shows to watch at home, which lets you see all our high-rated reviews of Shakespeare productions (film and theatre) that you can watch at home by streaming; downloading; or on DVD.

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We hope these two pages provide a useful service, letting you choose a high-quality Shakespeare production that you want to watch at home. Incidentally, if you know the play you want to watch, and want to choose a high-quality production, you can type Review plus the play name into our Google Custom Search, and you should be shown all the reviews we’ve done of that play.

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Our edition of Shakespeare’s plays:

In 2017, we launched our MFFEV5 edition of Shakespeare’s plays which supports cast lists for play-readings and productions, parts and cues (or cue scripts), highlight text, and other whizzo techniques. A year after launch we now have 12 plays published in full MFFEV5 glory, with another 6 only lacking an index. But the most important question is – does anyone read it?  The answer – 20% of our traffic in 2017 came from people reading our edition, with Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth being the most popular plays. Of course, these figures are slightly skewed by when we published the play.  Hamlet (1649 page reads) was published early in 2017; Henry IV Part 1 (866 page reads) was published in December. It looks as if, over the year, reading the plays online has become more popular.

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As well as this quantitative stuff, there is the beginnings of some qualitative stuff as well. There have been a few comments recently on web-site posts and our Facebook pages saying that people think we’re providing a high-quality resource. That of course is music to our ears.  Even more encouraging was a comment by Daniel Lauby on the Shakespeare Friends Facebook page: “I used Players-Shakespeare.com for some cue script acting with our university’s Shakespeare Society. It was quite a hit.”

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We love that, and would like even more, both positive and negative feedback. We are encouraged by the positive feedback and we learn how to improve from the negative feedback. If you want to give us feedback, you’ve got plenty of options:

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This early feedback on our MFFEV5 edition is encouraging, so you’ll see more plays published in 2018, and more effort to make them easy to access and read on all platforms (laptop; tablet; mobile phone). Its also probably worth reminding you that access to the plays is free.

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Upgrade to ‘Play of the Month’

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In December, 2017, we launched a new format ‘Play of the Month’ with Henry IV Part 1, and we plan to continue with the new format for each month in 2018. With each play we have about 20 or so articles we’ve published which let you do things relating to the play: exploring a character’s back-story; playing an important scene from the play; an introduction to the play; etc. On most working days during the month, we’ll publish a post providing a link to one of these articles on our Facebook page.  If you want to explore our Play of the month by playing the scenes or speeches, remember to visit our Facebook page regularly, or even better, ‘like’ it so that the Play of the month posts turn up on your Facebook wall. Early responses to Henry IV Part 1 (December ’17) and The Tempest, our play of the month in January ’18 have been encouraging.

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Relationships with other Shakespeare-related organisations

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We have started building relationships with other Shakespeare- related organisations – and we hope to increase the depth of these relationships in 2018, and increase the number of organisations we’re collaborating with. If your organisation would like to explore working with us, please contact me on Facebook Messenger, or by leaving a message on our Facebook page.

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Organisations we’ve started working with include:

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  • The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC):

We were very pleased to help the RSC with its Big Amateur Weekend, where it ran a week-end of workshops to help amateur actors improve their skills in a number of areas. We published reviews of each of the workshops, and where able to allow people to contact the workshop leaders to provide similar workshops with their groups.

We hope to repeat this for future Big Amateur Weekends, and will be publishing an Introduction to a similar ‘Technical Weekend’ the RSC will be running on backstage activities in February. Watch this space – we hope to publish the details in week commencing 8th Jan.

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  • The Scottish Community Drama Association (SCDA):

At the end of 2017, we were pleased to agree with the SCDA that they could provide access to Players-Shakespeare.com’s database of Shakespeare plays and adaptations in the SCDA’s library of play scripts for use by their members for production.

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We hope this will increase the number of Shakespeare productions undertaken by Scottish drama groups, and also lead to the establishment of more play-reading groups.

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This doesn’t have to be limited to Scotland, so if there are other organisations around the world which would like to offer a similar service to groups in their location, please feel free to contact us,  initially by leaving a message on our Facebook page.

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Publishing Shakespeare Adaptations:

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Another end-of-2017 development was that we started publishing Shakespeare Adaptations. With the publication of our edition of Henry IIV Part 1, I published an adaptation of Chimes at Midnight, the Orson Welles film of the story of Hal, Henry IV, and Falstaff. I called my adaptation Gentlemen of the Shadeand we produced it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2004.

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The script of the play is available under a Creative Commons licence (it’s free) and you can download a copy of the script as a pdf at:  Chimes at Midnight.

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Someone else had the same idea, and has produced a radio play of Chimes at Midnight. We’ve published a copy of the play under similarlicence terms (its free) and as a pdf at: Chimes of Midnight – a radio play

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We’ll be publishing a third adaptation of Shakespeare  under similar conditions, early in January 2018, so watch this space.

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If you have an adaption of a Shakespeare play that you’d like us to publish, and you can provide the script as a pdf, and you’re happy to provide it under ‘free’ licence conditions, please feel free to contact us,  initially by leaving a message on our Facebook page. If it meets our editorial standards, we’ll be happy to publish it.

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That’s it for this newsletter, so you can get back to Shakespeare now!

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Let’s play!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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If you are using, or thinking of using, Players-Shakespeare.com’s edition of Shakespeare’s plays for production rehearsals or play-reading, why don’t you ask to become a member of our Support for Playreading & Productions Closed FB group?

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If you want to know how our Shakespeare edition is developing,  ‘like’ our Facebook page, and you’ll get more detailed updates on Facebook on what’s happening.

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