Hour to Hour

Date: 2011
Posted by: Double G Productions
Cast: None
Credits: Double G Productions
Duration: 0.52

‘It is ten o’clock:
Thus we may see,’ quoth he, ‘how the world wags:
‘Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more ’twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.’

Jacques’ words on time and mortality are the inspiration for this roughly executed clay animation, which takes the idea that we rot and rot literally with a comically horrific ending. Part of the joke is the nature of stop-animation itself, which speeds up and collapses time into whatever space it eants to, so that a young man may become a corpse in seconds.

The anonymous filmmaker has some pedigree in this field, since as GroeneG he was responsible for 2007’s Hamlet’s Egg, one of the first videos to be posted on BardBox. The animation technique has not moved on greatly in those five years, but the fondness for using Shakespeare as black humour remains.

Links:
Vimeo page

TO BE

Date: 2012
Posted by: The Voices Project
Cast: Emma Campbell, Melanie Araya, Dianne Kaye Aldé, Patrick W Richards, Izzy Stevens, Reece Vella, Ebony Vagulans, Lavinia White, Kathy Nguyen, Leo King Hii (all Hamlet)
Credits: Director: Damien Power, Producer: Bec Cubitt, Co-Producers: Eva DiBlasio, Eleanor Winkler, DOP: Guido Gonzalez, Editor: Nikki Stevens
Duration: 2.16

The multi-voice Hamlet ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy has become, if not quite a cliché, then if a familiar, even instinctual video response to the play. I think it was the South Bank Show in the UK, in a 1989 programme on the history of Hamlet in performance, which first edited together clips from different renditions into one soliloquy (Olivier, Gielgud, Burton etc.). What looked like a witty one-off has turned into a way to demonstrate how these are the words of everyman or woman being spoken to everyman or woman. The speech becomes not just one person’s thoughts, but anyones.

Such video intepretations find a natural home on Vimeo or YouTube, where the space available is best suited to the soliloquy. The prime example of the multi-voice soliloquy is the Hillside Student Community’s Hamlet’s Soliloquy, already praised on BardBox, where schoolchildren share the words with uncanny knowingness, and there are several examples on YouTube where someone has edited together clips from different feature film versions

Now we have TO BE, courtesy of the Fresh Ink programme of the Australian Theatre for Young People (atyp), which is looking at monologues through its Voices Project. As part of the project they have produced this video with ten young performers from Sydney who take it in turns to speak Hamlet’s words – on the beach, on a subway platform, on a basketball court, in a car, and so on – the monologue as multilogue. It has a particularly effective opening, in which each of the actors gets to say their ‘to be’, before the rest of the soliloquy is spoken by each in turn. The peformances are fresh, varied and meaningful, making us hear and see the words anew.

It is interesting to see how the online video medium encourages close engagement with the camera, the performers either looking directly at us or turning their heads towards us mid-shot. Feature film Hamlets seldom look us in the eye; stage ones never; online video ones continually. It is because they know that we are looking closely, on our laptops, smartphones or tablets. Online video is encouraging a more personalised, sharing form of Shakespeare, one in which we become as much a part of the performance as the performers – through watching, through our comments, through blogging and embedding, through sharing links, through the intimacy of address. The online video reaches out to a multiplicity of platforms; a video with multiple voices such as this is therefore emblematic of the whole genre. It is Shakespeare that can come from anywhere, and can be anywhere.

Links:
Vimeo page
Fresh Ink
The Voices Project on Facebook
Behind the scenes photos on Flickr

Google+: Tom

Date: 2012
Posted by: GoogleChannelUK
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch (voice)
Credits: Not given
Duration: 1.31

Google in the UK has produced this sweetly sentimental advertisement for the Google+ social network, which uses Jacques’ ‘Seven Ages of Man’ speech for As You Like It. We see Tom as infant (actually it’s Tom’s son William – the plotting is a bit muddled), schoolboy (William again), lover (we’re back to Tom), soldier, justice and ‘lean and slippered pantaloon’, and … and then nothing. For Google has given us just the six ages of man. Now is this because Google would rather not show us Tom “sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything”? Or is some subtle insinuation being made that in the virtual world there is no such thing as death or its approach? Is this bowdlerisation or simply variation?

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

Romeo speech from Romeo and Juliet

Date: 2011
Posted by:RSC Sound & Fury
Cast: Dyfan Dwyfor (Romeo)
Credits: None
Duration: 1.24

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Sound & Fury project brings together contemporary spoken-word and hip-hop artists and Shakespeare, working with London schoolchildren. ‘Word-artists’ and actors taking part have included polarbear, Kate Tempest, Toby Thompson, and here actor Dyfan Dwyfor giving Romeo’s speech from beneath Juliet’s balcony, “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?”. With apposite contemporary feel, he gives the speech to a self-held camera while standing in a street with traffic going by. He gives every impression of providing a quick confidence to the camera before uploading the results onto YouTube. The video opens and ends abruptly, consciously not crafted except to be in a form that its target audience will instinctively understand. Hopefully.

Some of the results of some of the work with students in 2011 are seen here, in this fourteen-year-old’s sharp-worded riff on the Hamlet soliloquy.

Links:
Vimeo page
RSC Sound & Fury

To Be or Not To Be

Date: 2007
Posted by: fenian47ronin
Cast: Voice by Tamo Noonan
Credits: Produced by Tamo Noonan
Duration: 2.12

Tamo Noona aka fenian47ronin describes himself “writer–film critic, journalist, novelist”. As far as the world of online video is concerned, he’s a producer of reveries into the modern state of things, often laced with passages of Shakespeare. His videos bring together portentous imagery heavily treated with Photoshop and Affect Effects, with unclear music and his distorted voice laid over the top. When it works well, as it rather does here, the effect is kind of a stream-of-visual-consciousness with jazz overtones. The Hamlet soliloquy is spoken with heavy echo, with images of cities, skeletons, statues, basketball players, armed forces, the Titanic, and Noonan himself, and a jazzy drumbeat muttering underneath.

To Be or Not to Be is part four of a five-part video series he calls Empire not Liberty as describes as

five “pieces of work” made in response to the war in Iraq and how rampant consumerism began matching the insane military spending…

So now you know. The other five parts are Othello11tamo, Rogue & Peasant Slave, Drop ’till ya Shop!, and Piece of Work. They’re not going to stop war or consumerism (especially if so few people have actually viewed them so far), but they do show the visual power of Shakespeare’s words, whether heard or half-heard, and the efficacy of using distorted images to portray a world gone wrong.

Rogue & Peasant Slave

Links:
YouTube page
fenian47ronin YouTube Channel
fenian47ronin website

Juliet must die

Date: 2009
Posted by: P.M.
Cast: P.M. (presumably)
Credits: Produced in association with the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Adaption by P.M. Voice by András Cséfalvay. Photography by Matúš Bence, Martina Slováková. Editing by Peter Kotrha. Grip, Vladimir Biskupský. Music, Samuel Barber ‘Adagio for Strings’, Richard Wagner ‘Liebestod’
Duration: 4.52

After a period of unenforced silence, BardBox returns with a new look but the same purpose: to locate, document and present new forms of Shakspearean production that are being produced as online videos. This distinctive reverie inspired by Romeo and Juliet is a fine example of the genre, helped by having a great title (echoing the feature film Romeo Must Die). This is a highly personalised take on Shakespeare’s heroine, with whom the filmmaker clearly feels a strong affinity. She calls the film “a short self- portrait based on the last lines of Romeo’s character” (actually a mixture of lines spoken by Romeo in Act 1, “O brawling love! O loving hate!”, and his last words, ending “I still will stay with thee/ And never from this palace of dim night / Depart again: here, here will I remain”). It is Romeo’s word we hear, quietly spoken, while we see a woman lost in thought in some woods, caught between memories and intimations of death. The filmmaker describes her interpretation as

… a melancholic story of struggle set in the dully dreamscape that witnesses unabled emotional states of longing and despair. At given time a rush towards reconciliation to death reveals a brief, fleeting moment of connection between ‘star-crossed’ lovers until the dream to dwell is shattered.

Starting point of self-stageing [sic] fiction is using the concept of the cinematic fundamental apparatus based on intensive, emotional and cognitive relationship of the spectator with the spectacular female body coded as “to- be- look- at- ness”.

Interpret that how you will, but what we seem to get is Juliet’s predicament as a jumping of point for personal reflection rather than any precise correlative to Shakespeare’s character, with the images ultimately defying textual intepretation because they are intended to linger in the mind as images. The video is beautifully shot, and the production Slovakian in original, with Romeo’s words appearing as Slovak subtitles, as well as being spoken in English (“O brawling love! O loving hate!). As with the many Ophelia videos and photo-montages to be found, this is evidence of the deep identification with Shakespeare’s doomed heroines that is finding heartfelt expression in the online world.

Links:
Vimeo page

Impressionist Does Shakespeare in Celebrity Voices

Date: 2011
Posted by: jimmeskimen
Cast: Jim Meskimen
Credits: None given
Duration: 3.46

A tour de force. American impressionist Jim Meskimen recites Clarence’s speech from Richard III, “O, I have passed a miserable night …” in the manner of assorted celebrities. Helpfully, for those of us not familiar with some of the American famous, or just those looking at this video a few years from now who may wonder who on earth these once celebrated people were, the names of those he is impersonating are given throughout. In order, they are Ricky Gervais, Ron Howard, Richard Burton, Jimmy Stewart, George W. Bush, William Shatner, Arnold Schwarznegger, Woody Allen (surely a natural for playing Clarence), Boris Karloff, George Clooney, Tom Brokaw, Harvey Keitel, Casey Kasem, Garrison Keillor, Craig Ferguson, Droopy Dog, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Johnny Carson, Paul Giamatti, Christopher Walken, Simon Cowell, Jack Nicholson and Barack Obama. And all this to advertise his stage show.

Links:
Applied Silliness (Meskimen’s personal site)
YouTube page

Klingon Hamlet: taH pagh taHbe’

Date: 2009
Posted by: klingonhamlet
Cast: Brian Rivera (Hamlet)
Credits: Cinematographer, assistant editor and director, Amir Sharafeh; capture editor and sound, Suzanne Tyler; costume, make-up designer and editor, Brian Rivera. A Still Picture Production.
Duration: 3.25

Firstly, I must admit to a strong aversion to all things to do with Star Trek and indeed to any cultish science fiction. Secondly, if anything were to make me change my mind and see virtue in what on most occasions is mere childishness, then it would be a sincere and effective rendition of the ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy in Klingon. And here one is.

Claiming to have been coached by Jane Lapotaire, no less, Brian Rivera gives an intense and expressive rendition of Hamlet’s speech in pure Klingon (the language of the villainous race of beings in Star Trek which has been constructed by addicts of the television series and films). As invented languages go, it is convincing and rich in tone, while for those of us whose feet remain on planet Earth, there words are given in English subtitles. And who would have thought there would have been a Klingon word for ‘contumely’?

The location is a little strange: a road bridge at night, with a tree overhanging the speaker (with full Klingon make-up), one of whose branches hangs distractingly over his face. Such minor details aside, this is something to watch with interest, then to listen to alone with increased interest. Truly, as Gorkon says (in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, naturally), “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon”.

Links:
YouTube page
Hamlet in Klingon (the text, that is)
Klingon Hamlet MySpace

Hamlet Rap

Date: 2007
Posted by: BloodOctopus
Cast: not given
Credits: Music by Mathew Letersky
Duration: 1.55

Another year, another Hamlet rap, but this is one of the better ones to be found on YouTube. It’s a Canadian student rapping the ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy for his English class. It’s captured handheld from a mid-classroom viewpoint in the plainest of styles, but what makes the video is the performer’s conviction and astute use of emphasis (note the punch of ‘give us pause’ followed by ‘respect’). This is Hamlet as a rap because it was meant to be rapped, not because it might be funny to do so.

Links:
YouTube page