Is there such a thing as polite use of cell-phones at a live performance? We hope so, because we want you to turn on your phone when you’re at Shakespeare in the Park this summer in Montreal.

That’s because we’ve been working with Repercussion Theatre since last year to bring the words of the Bard to francophone audiences, by providing a live translation that can be followed on phones and tablets while watching the show.

About the app

Last year, we held a Hack Day - a free day of work from our team - to help solve a digital problem for a cultural organization. Repercussion came to us with a challenge to help them better serve their francophone audiences with an alternative to traditional surtitling.

The prototype we came up is a web app containing the full French text of the show. It allows the backstage team at Repercussion to push a notification at regular intervals to people following along to alert them to the most recently updated position in the text. Designed with an outdoor setting in mind, it uses very little data, and muted background colours to minimize the impact on other audience members.

This year, we added a synopsis to the beginning of each scene, so that viewers could get the gist of the action without having to follow the text line by line. We hope to keep developing the prototype to allow a production to upload their own texts, and offer multiple languages to choose from.

You can visit theatre.plank.co to see it for yourself.

Screenshot of Translation App Start Screen

About the show

Repercussion Theatre’s production of Much Ado About Nothing (Beaucoup de Bruit pour rien) runs from July 13 - August 15th in parks in and around Montreal.

Much Ado About Nothing examines deception and gender inequality through a confluence of plot lines. Claudio, a young soldier returned from war, asks Don Pedro to woo the beautiful Hero on his behalf but once won, Claudio’s affections quickly vanish when he is falsely led to believe that Hero has cheated on him. Meanwhile Beatrice and Benedick, committed bachelors, humorously illuminate the downside of traditional gender roles through an ongoing and rigorous battle of wits.

Director Amanda Kellock elaborates on the play’s themes. “This play involves good people making bad choices, hurting those they care about and their actions are so extreme it’s hard to imagine any form of reconciliation. But in order to do this play we have to ask ourselves: ‘How do we truly atone for our mistakes? How does forgiveness work? How do we keep moving towards each other, even when it feels impossibly hard?’”

If you have ideas to improve or expand on the app, please get in touch.

See you in the park!

davide ragusa
Projects Culture Hack Day