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Putting the 'Mac' into Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'

October 15, 2009 |  7:00 am


It's widely considered rude to be playing with your iPhone during a theatrical performance -- unless the actors are doing the same thing.

A group of stage performers in San Francisco is producing a reading of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" in which they will enact the drama by reading the text from their personal iPhones and iPod Touch devices. To make the experience more communal, the audience is invited to read along by downloading a special Shakespeare application that contains the full play.

The event -- which will take place Oct. 25 at the Apple Store in San Francisco at 1 Stockton St. near Union Square -- is organized by actor Ron Severdia, who runs the website

Last year, Severdia launched an iPhone application that contains all of Shakespeare's plays as well as his poems and sonnets. The program, which was developed by the company Readdle, is available for free download from iTunes and features a keyword search function as well as auto-scroll capabilities. 

"It's not a profit-generating thing. It's a loss generator, actually. But it's done out of the love of the work," said Severdia in a phone interview.

The actor said he first chose "Macbeth" for the obvious pun on the Apple brand of Mac computers. "That was the original joke and it sort of stuck," he said.

The performance, which is free, will feature 13 actors performing 40 different roles in the Scottish tragedy.

Severdia said he and his tech team are putting the finishing touches on a new version of the application that will have features like finding the nearest Shakespeare festival using GPS; searching by line numbers; and a new interface. He expects the new version to cost $1.99 to download.

-- David Ng

Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press