There are tens of thousands of Shakespeare videos available on the Web. The emergence of YouTube and other video hosting sites, along with the spread of broadband and the availability of cheap video equipment, has led to an explosion in Shakespeare video production and distribution online.
BardBox is an attempt to bring together some of the best and most interesting of original Shakespeare-related videos on YouTube, Vimeo and other video hosting sites (as of November 2008 there were 23,600 videos on YouTube tagged with the keyword ‘Shakespeare’, and over 33,000 searchable under the term ‘Shakespeare’ overall). The emphasis is on originality. Video hosting sites make available many titles which were created for other media (cinema, television, DVD) and which are often available from other sources. This shows YouTube and others as a new mode of distribution, and although it has made many such titles available this way which would not otherwise be available to most, this aspect does not provide original content – and such activity is, at best, of dubious legality.
BardBox instead concentrates on Shakespeare videos created for distribution on YouTube (launched on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April 2005), Vimeo, Daily Motion, Blip.tv and others. It comprises animations, parodies, recitations, auditions, promos for theatre productions, amateur records of stage productions, student work, school productions, mashups etc. Each post is named either after the on-screen title of the video or the title it is given on the hosting site, and comprises the video itself, date (the date of posting if actual production date not known), credits (where available), cast (ditto) and duration, description with comment, plus link to its original web page. Each post is described under a variety of categories and tagged under the name of the relevant play.
YouTube Shakespeare has been generally dismissed as home only to facetious and repetitive parodies. BardBox contends that this is an exciting new departure for Shakespeare production, the best examples of which need to be identified, championed and studied. Any suggestions for inclusion will be most welcome.
Warning! Videos come and go on these sites. Some are removed by their producers, some are taken down by the host site itself (usually if a third party has objected to the use of their material, as in mashups). If titles disappear the BardBox entry will remain as a record, but it will no longer be possible to view the video.
Bardbox is produced by Luke McKernan.