Schools

Romeo & Juliet, 2553 A.D.

Date: 2007
Posted by: mcdonaldjm
Cast: Meaghan Sloane (Chorus), Richard Jau (Sampson), Mitch Ryan (Gregory), Jeff Heilman (Abram), Jim Raley (Benvolio), Jordan Gebhardt (Tybalt), Fred Tollini, S.J. (The Prince), Bruce McDonald (Montagu), Victoria McDonald (Lady Montagu), Jon McDonald (Romeo), Arbiter (Juliet)
Credits: Directed and edited by Jon McDonald, music from the score to Titus (2000) by Elliot Goldenthal: Philimelagram, Arrows of the Gods, and Tamora’s Pastorale
Duration: 8.53 (part 1), 4.36 (part 2)

There is a whole genre out there of machinima versions of Shakespeare. Machinima are animations usally made using video game software, where fans of games such as Halo, Call of Duty, Second Life, World of Warcraft etc., and repply the figures and backgrounds to their own narratives. An increasing number have chosen to recreate scenes from Shakespeare in this form, frequently emphasising battle sequences, and mostly playing on the comic disparity between Shakespeare’s scenes and the outlandish figures of the fantasy worlds of video games.

This school project adaptation of Romeo & Juliet Act 1 Scene 1 uses imagery from the game Halo 3. It is both typical and distinctive among the genre. Typical, because of the comic effect of bizarre science fiction figures uttering Shakespeare’s words and the time devoted to the battle scene. Distinctive, because so many of Shakespeare’s words are heard. Unike other examples of the genre, which either paraphrase the text or use just a few key lines, here the filmmakers offers us reasonably long stretches of dialogue (albeit with some modern paraphrases) that draw us all the more into this unearthly world where Montagus and Capulets are luridly coloured robots from 500 years hence. The brawl between the two camps is well chosen (the Spartans and the Elites from the original game), though the absence of Juliet herself (beyond a wordless appearance portrayed by the Halo 3 character Arbiter) tends to render the video’s title an irrelevance. There are two parts, taking us not very far into the play, but far enough to recognise that an imaginative work has been realised.

Links:
Part 1
Part 2
Wikipedia on Machinima

The Winter’s Tale Shakespeare for Kids

Date: 2009
Posted by: bubbales
Cast: Peirce (Leontes), Nazim (Antigonus), Thomas (Camillo), Lauren (Hermione/Perdita), Braden (Polixenes), Barbara (Paulina), Trevor (Old Shepherd), Buttercup (bear), Michelle, Ben
Credits: Directed by Michelle, Barbara, Trevor; set design by Nazim, Ahmet, Braden, Peirce; music selection Barbara, Michelle; camera Barbara, Ben, Nazim, Trevor; film editing Barbara; pupeteers Michelle, Lauren, Nazim, Trevor, Barbara; costumes Michelle, Trevor. A Later Shakespeare Production
Duration: 11.00

On the eve of Shakespeare’s birthday, BardBox’s latest discovery is this this delightful, extraordinary, weird and stylistically rich version of The Winter’s Tale. Delightful, because it is an American schoolchildren’s production of the play (in modern language and condensed to 11 minutes) which is done with such happy enthusiasm that it is a cast-iron argument all by itself for introducing Shakespeare to children at any age.

Extraordinary, because there is nothing else out there quite like it. It is unusual among online Shakespeare videos in attempting to express all of the plot of one of the plays in the short space available. It also stands out for its invention, with child and adult actors, video and still images probably employing some sort of software designed for schools projects, interiors and exteriors, with several surprise inventions, including the handy use of a map to show the distance between Sicilia and Bohemia.

Then weird, because in some respects it is a really quite peculiar experience. Seeing young children performing Shakespeare always makes you wonder if they know what it is they are doing, and if the adults involved had really thought it through, with the odd plot, odd names, odd settings, odd everything (except the language, which is not Shakespeare’s). Just what were children of six or seven supposed to make of what they were being asked to do? Except that everyone seems to be enjoying themselves so much, the exercise seems more than justified, certainly to be more than just being ‘cute’ for cuteness’ dubious sake.

And then stylistically rich, because there are so many of the particular tropes that BardBox has highlighted over the years bundled up in one video. Children speaking Shakespeare, school projects, Lego figures (Yoda as the oracle), Star Wars references, puppets, animals (a small dog plays the bear) – they are all there. Coupled with wooden acting (though Leontes expresses his rage rather well), shaky camerawork (some of it by the children) and erratic sound, this is the quintessential YouTube Shakespeare. And it all ends in a happy dance, just as such a play should do.

Happy birthday, William.

Links:
YouTube page

Midsummer Night’s Dream – Act III, Scene 1

Date: 2009
Posted by: Mike Knish
Cast: Zak Engel (Bottom), Mike Knish (everyone else)
Credits: None given
Duration: 9.52

How many ways are there to film the high school assignment to make a Shakespeare video? Not nearly enough, to judge by the evidence. So many lame Hamlet raps, so many juvenile Star Wars parodies, so much poverty of the imagination (poverty of the props we must excuse, of course). Though a few of these videos do demonstrate some filmic skill (as recorded from time to time on BardBox), and through that an appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare, it is just a few.

Then we get this production, made by Mike Knish as a school assignment for Music History, it says. To say that it is good or bad is irrelevant – it’s just plain different. Two male students stand side-by-side in front of a large photograph of woodland in sunlight. One draws markings on his face, then other intones wordlessly. They then reads out lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the most wooden manner possible, reading from papers in their hands, making not the slightest effort to impart character or interest. The camera remains static, bar the occasional close-up of a face. They play music from a laptop when music is called for. One reads the part of Bottom, the other all the other characters, clumsily changing costume for each.

And so it goes on, and on, and on, for ten minutes. It is the antithesis of performance, a stoner’s Shakespeare, a Warholian school exercise, an end to pretension. I wouldn’t care to watch too many other videos like it, but I rather like this one. It has knowing ignorance.

And he got an A for the assignment.

Links:
Vimeo page

The Tempest Animation

Date: 2010
Posted by: Jamie McDine
Cast:(voices) Denice Hicks (Ariel/sailor), Amanda Card McCoy (Miranda/sailor), Joseph Robinson (Boatswain/Ferdinand/Stephano), Robert Marigza (Antonio/Alonso/Caliban), Brian Russell (Gonzalo/Prospero/Trinculo)
Credits: Filmed by Jamie McDine; Bill Crosby, sound engineer
Duration: 5.39

It is Shakespeare’s birthday, and let’s celebrate this august event by posting one of the most inventive Shakespeare videos this site has come across, certainly as far as school projects are concerned. It was made Year 7 students at Matravers School in Westbury, Wiltshire UK, with some help from artist in residence Jamie McDine. Its subject is The Tempest, and it looks like no other Shakespeare video you are likely to have seen.

Perhaps inspired by Tom Phillips’ A Humument (the pages of a book individually remade as works of art), McDine has taken the page of The Tempest and treated them with smears and blotches, then overlaid this with drawings produced by the children inspired by scenes from the play. The video takes us through the pages as the narrative progresses, with voices reading out snatches from the play (and not necessarily the usual familiar quotations). The jerkiness of the pseudo-animation can be a little wearing, but what impresses is the sense of invention and discovery, which draws you into thinking about the play afresh. And that is what the best of these online videos do – like the best stage productions, and the best Shakespeare films, they make the play new again. It doesn’t matter if it’s the ‘full’ play, an extract or a condensation, as here. What matters is the sense of discovery, of a new world.

“Is this the best school film ever made?” asks the filmmaker on the accompanying notes. Perhaps not quite (the Hillside Student Community’s interpretation of Hamlet‘s ‘To be or not to be’ still feels like the best to me), but it is well worth experiencing.

The post is a contribution to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Happy Birthday Shakespeare project. Do follow the link and find posts from other bloggers taking part.

Links:
Vimeo page
Happy Birthday Shakespeare site

Iago

Date: 2009
Posted by: AMPPP-lifier
Cast: Patrick Han, Pearlyn Lii, Melissa Ma, Peter Yang, and Andrew Yeh
Credits: Not given
Duration: 0.59

Not much information is given on this schools project billed as being “Othello Trailer for Cordero’s Sophomore English Honors Class. Period 4″. Just before he is executed, Iago looks back on his life in flashbacks, to the accompaniment of melodramatic music. There is no dialogue, only messages on computer screens and print-outs and the four players shown at crisis point, before the video ends with the execution. As a burst of creative energy, it is not at all unimpressive.

Links:
Vimeo page

Caesar and the Payatas Boys

Date: 2007
Posted by: pepblue12
Credits: Filmed (presumably) by Denice Planas
Cast: Kristiann Bonus, Pauline Bueno, Jenny Gagucan, Finzy Gonzales, Athena Parro, Abby Peralta, Denice Planas, Ceej Tantengco, Janina Yap
Duration: 6.13

Well, to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here. I know Act 1 of Julius Caesar, of which this is an interpretation, and I recognise the characters and sort of where the action is going on, but I am too old to know what on earth is being said.

But so what? This is a lively English school project by a bunch of Philippine schoolgirls (Payatas is a slum site outside Manila), who have taken the play and presented it as a silent film with faux scratches, intertitles (Brutus: “I just feel emotional today. I have so many problems”) and cheap organ music. The action in between is just goofing around – what counts is the teenspeak dialogue with assorted in-jokes and in-slang. We’re promised anti-Caesar spraypainting tags, but then the video ends with a ‘to be continued…’ Shame. Now they’ve moved on to higher classes, and we’ll probably never know what might have happened.

Links:
YouTube page

Shakespeare Biography with Eggs!

Date: 2007
Posted by: HarassedTofu
Credits: Directed, filmed and edited by Kimberley Durkin, for Harassed Tofu Productions
Cast: Eggs (voices by Kimberley Durkin)
Duration: 5.01

Rudimentary (to say the least) animation with eggs, telling us the story of Shakespeare’s Stratford home life, starting from the point where the young Shakespeare is taken to see a play and becomes besotted by the theatre. The film ends poignantly with the death of his son Hamnet (yolk is spilt), commemorated by words from King John (Act 3 Scene 4), ‘If that be true, I shall see my boy again’, while Carmina Buruna plays in the background. Cracking.

Links
YouTube page