BBC SHAKESPEARE ON CD-Rom: The Tempest. HarperCollins with BBC Education pound;75 plus VAT. For Windows PCs and Apple Macintosh. Age Range: 11 plus.
Shakespeare may have been voted man of the millennium, but to many students he remains a remote figure who wrote plays 400 years ago. So it is appropriatethat this BBC Shakespeare onCD-Rom uses a modern medium to help them find a stimulating wayinto The Tempest.
The authors stress the centrality of the text and encourage students to engage with it actively and takecontrol of their own learning.
A central hexagon menu provides a gateway to the CD-Rom's resources. Students can access a full version of the text, accompanied by an audio performance and optional video sequences, both taken from a classic BBC production. This can be combined with an exploration of the key areas of plot, performance, characters, language, themes and background. Each of these sections contains a wealth of information conveyed in a combination of text, pictures, audio and video formats, featuring contributors as diverse as Sir John Gielgud, Laurens Van Der Post and Derek Jarman.
One of the main strengths of this CD-Rom is the ease with which students can create their own journey through the play. It is possible to access all options on each page, without returning to the main menu and to navigate quickly between pages. It is accompanied by a thorough guide and help is also available through a designated web-site. Comprehensive teacher's notes provide ideas on classroom use.
Shakespeare's audiences went to "hear" a play rather than to see it and by "hearing" The Tempest on this CD-Rom, students are given some sense of the play as a script for performance. Used as part of a scheme of work it could prove a useful tool for providing students with a comprehensive resource bank and a fresh way of interacting with the play.
Fiona Banks is GlobeLink administrator at Shakespeare's Globe, London