Stage recordings

Romeo & Juliet

Date: 2008
Posted by: ylpiaocai
Cast: Ben Cunis (Romeo), Courtney Pauroso (Juliet)
Credits: Produced by SilhouetteFilm. Stage production directed by Paata Tsikurishvili, choreography by Irina Tsikurishvili
Duration: 2.26

A trailer for a production of Romeo and Juliet by Synetic Theater, the company founded by Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili which specialises in silent interpretations of the classics. Its theatre production have included Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, as well as several non-Shakespearean works. They describe their work thus:

Synetic Theater seeks to advance and enrich the theater arts through presentation and education in its unique performance style of a synthesis of the arts, fusing the classical elements of drama, movement, dance, mime, and music into a distinct form of non-realistic theater.

In truth the result seems to be ballet as much as anything, but it is vivid theatre nonetheless, with its heart lying in silent cinema quite as much as in dance. Unlike many theatre trailers, the video reflects the essence of the theatrical experience.

Links:
SilhouetteFilm
Synetic Theater
YouTube page

Loves Labours Lost

Date: 2007
Posted by: luizmarcelota
Credits: Filmed by Cabeça
Duration: 1.30

If only, they sigh, we could see how Shakespeare’s plays were performed in their time? How wonderful it would be if there had been some form of Elizabethan camcorder which could have recorded the live performance, for the delight of future generations.

Were such an impossible film to turn up, it might look just a little like this. Filmed by a Brazilian tourist at London’s Globe Theatre in September 2007, it shows Dominic Dromgoole’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost filmed from the back of the theatre, through the heads of the people in front. The camera shakes a bit, drifts around, we’re too far away to see who is performing or what they are saying – and there’s only ninety seconds of it anyway.

But if this were all that we had, what treasures we could still derive from it. We would see staging, costuming, scenery, the relation of performer to audience, the behaviour and dress of that audience, even learn from the snatches of conversation heard about such pressing mundanities as cushions to sit on. And how we would struggle to identify the performers and to derive some sense of them from these long-shot glimpses. Indeed, what debates there would be as to what play we were in fact watching, had our Elizabethan filmmaker neglected to include such information. It would keep academic conferences going for years. As it is, it’s a typical short record of a stage performance, of which many exist on YouTube from the Globe alone.

Links:
YouTube page

the tragedie of othello IV.1

Date: 2008
Posted by: ishakespeare
Credits: Directed by William Mann
Cast: William Mann (Othello), Christopher Lynch (Iago)
Duration: 3.18

More intensity from the Chamber Shakespeare Company, or ishakespeare (see previous post on the Company’s Hamlet), this time with two video extracts from its stage production of Othello. In othello’s perspective we experience a flat-toned Iago tormenting Othello, who is holding the camera. So we witness Othello’s fevered despair by seeing it literally from his point of view. While the kneeling Iago is all stillness, Othello ranges about all over the place, the mobile camera incoherently taking in floor, ceiling, lights, darkness, Iago. The result is barely audible, and certainly not all that intelligible as the recording of a stage performance, but it works well in the form of an experimental video, where the world that this Othello sees – that is, the theatre in which he is performing – turns into a bewildering mélange of colours, shapes and indistinct sounds as his own world collapses about him.

Date: 2008
Posted by: ishakespeare
Credits: Directed by William Mann
Cast: William Mann (Othello), Christopher Lynch (Iago)
Duration: 3.55

The video’s companion piece is iago’s perspective. Now we see the same action from Iago’s point of view (clearly not filmed at the same time, since Othello carries no camera). From Iago’s eyes we look down on Othello writhing upon the ground. Grainy, out of focus for much of the time, with Iago’s drab tones off-camera, the result is arguably not Iago’s perspective at all but rather another way of looking at Othello’s inner anguish. It is more conventional than the first video, but together the two pieces raise all sorts of interesting questions on how theatre may be filmed, what it means to film theatre, and how the camera – one way or another – is always a performer. In the final ‘shot’ (the whole video, as with the first, is one take), Iago pans round to film himself in a mirror and tells us, “I hate the Moor”.

Links
othello’s perspective YouTube page
iago’s perpective YouTube page
Chamber Shakespeare Company

the tragedie of hamlet

Date: 2008
Posted by: ishakespeare
Credits: Directed by William Mann
Cast: William Mann (Hamlet), Christopher Lynch (Horatio)
Duration: 8.21

The Chamber Shakespeare Company (also known as the ishakespeare company) describes itself as a

not-for-profit artistic collaborative to research and explore the possible application of mythic and symbolic theatre traditions, such as Greek Tragedy, Japanese Noh and Ta’ziyeh, to productions of the work of William Shakespeare.

The Company takes a ‘minimalist’ approach, with an emphasis on bare staging, multi-part casting and ritualistic presentation, with the intention of creating production which are not constrained by social and cultural boundaries.

The Company is in the process of filming its productions, but the sample videos that it has published on YouTube are of a more experimental in kind, constructed as exercises in style. In chamber hamlet I.2 + I.5, Hamlet learning of the ghost’s existence from Horatio is depicted in blurred and grainy close shots, with handheld shots framed as best they can to Hamlet’s face as he moves about the small ‘stage’, Horatio’s calm voice off-camera. The result is intense and not always easy to look at (an entire production filmed this way would be unbearable) or, at times, to hear. But as an attempt to present a mind becoming disordered it is effective, and might be argued to be more successful in depicting a stateless Hamlet than the original staging would have achieved, with all the distracting reality of the ‘theatre’. They have recognised that film changes as it records, and have let the camera dictate the action, with hallucinatory results.

Date: 2008
Posted by: ishakespeare
Credits: Directed by William Mann
Cast: William Mann (Hamlet), Christopher Lynch (Player 1), Hayley Roberts (Player 2)
Duration: 4.11

In this second video extract, chamber hamlet II.2, two players put on a performance for Hamlet of the slaughter of Priam by Pyrrhus during the fall of Troy. The dramatic style is that of Japanese Noh theatre, while the low position of the virtually static camera recalls the methods of film director Yasujirō Ozu (the camera being like an unacknowledged third person seated in a typical Japanese setting). Poor sound recording, however, dims the impact.

Links
See also the Company’s video interpretation of Othello
hamlet I.2 + I.5 YouTube page
hamlet II.2 YouTube page
Chamber Shakespeare Company