In honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Sir Ian McKellen is launching a series of apps that will allow users to listen to various actors read the Bard’s plays aloud. The first app, dubbed “Heuristic Shakespeare — The Tempest,” will be available on April 23, and features McKellen — best known for his role as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings — as Prospero and Sir Derek Jacobi as Gonzalo.
Developed on the premise that Shakespeare’s works should be seen rather than read, the app gives users the opportunity to watch a professional cast recite a play while its lines appear in writing at the bottom of the screen. Those in consideration for participation include British actors such as Patrick Stewart and Stephen Fry.
At the launch for the app, McKellen spoke about why he feels Shakespeare is still important in today’s world. “Anybody can relate to Shakespeare,” he said, according to the Irish Examiner. “Shakespeare wrote about black people. He wrote about us all, he wrote about gay people like me, he wrote about women — my goodness, did he write fantastic parts for women! He wrote about leaders, tyrants, people you meet in the pubs, soldiers of all ranks. So the color of your skin or the culture from which you come from isn’t really relevant, but the plays go on being persistently relevant — and not just in this country.”