‘Mark the Play’: Electronic Editions of Shakespeare and Video Content

Brett Hirsch, Stewart Arneil, Greg Newton


From world-wide archival film footage, to recordings of amateur and professional productions, and, of course, user-generated content uploaded to YouTube, the last decade has seen an explosion in the production and dissemination of Shakespeare in digital video form. The challenge facing researchers is no longer to acquire and amass this video data, but rather to develop the methods and tools to accurately and dynamically navigate, search, and interact with the data.

The Humanities Computing and Multimedia Centre at the University of Victoria has been developing such a tool (Platypus). Originally designed to present digital video footage of public lectures alongside a transcript, this proof-of-concept system has much broader research and pedagogical applications: to search a video or videos by full-text; to create, display, store, and search annotations, tags, and other metadata; and, to dynamically link this content to ancillary materials. This paper will begin with a discussion of the traditional print-based materials used in Shakespeare performance and film criticism, stressing the limitations of the print medium to adequately and accurately capture the dynamics of performance as well as the inherent value of performance reviews. This paper will also survey projects that have (or intend to) incorporate performance content into electronic scholarly editions of Shakespeare and other early modern dramatists, as well as the challenges and possibilities that such endeavors afford for scholars of Shakespearean film and television, performance studies, adaptation studies, theatre history, and pedagogy.


digital media, video, application, electronic scholarly edition, representation of text, performance studies, Shakespeare, Platypus

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