Street Shakespeare

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

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

cymbeline

Date: 2007
Posted by: lostfoxx
Credits: Created by lostfoxx
Cast: Dominic Kelly (Posthumus)
Duration: 4.12

This is a particularly strong Shakespeare video. Actor Dominic Kelly has produced this rendition of Posthumus’ bitter speech, “Is there no way for men to be but women / Must be half-workers? We are all bastards” from Cymbeline (Act 2 Scene 5) as a showcase for his talents, but he has made a proper film of it. Kelly/Posthumus is cycling through London streets, addressing the camera, which cuts between speech, shots of the bicycle and shots of the street (strictly speaking, when Posthumus speaks he is pushing his bicycle; when pedalling he is silent). The speech is therefore broken up by the mundanity of the urban scene, while the speech comes out as ragged mental notes that occur to Posthumus as he proceeds, an effect accentuated by close shots taken either side of him, and his repetition of the vices in man that woman causes: ambitions, covetings, change of prides, disdain, nice longing, slanders, mutability – as though he were arguing with himself.

As much care has gone into the creativity of the filming as the performance (which is good enough in itself). The actor works with the camera, which frames and ironically counterparts the character’s thoughts. The editing is sharp (with just a touch of the jump-cut Godard of A bout de souffle), and the city itself provides the background ‘music’. A fine piece of work.

Links:
YouTube page
Dominic Kelly’s personal site

Apemantus and Timon

Date: 2007
Posted by: peterbruce01
Credits: Filmed by Peter Bruce, for the Balmain Picture Company
Cast: Not named
Duration: 1.47

This is an extract from an Australian ‘grunge’ version of Timon of Athens, information on which is hard to find. As an extract alone, it is startling and fresh. The sequence shows the confrontation between the caustic Apemantus and Timon’ from Act 1 Scene 1 (“Thou art proud, Apemantus.” “Of nothing so much as that I am not like Timon.”), rawly filmed on miniDV in the bright sunshine of Sydney, making the confrontation look like an everyday street brawl. The realism is intriguingly counterpointed by the use of on-screen text relaying the dialogue.

Such immediacy and roughness of technique might prove a little wearing over the course of an entire film/play, but that’s an unfair judgement without having seen the thing. There is also a ‘preview’ of sorts with a range of clips from the full work (entitled Timon of Athens) indicating something original, rough-hewn and exciting.

Date: 2007
Posted by: peterbruce01
Credits: Filmed by Peter Bruce, for the Balmain Picture Company
Cast: Not named
Duration: 1.23

Links
Apemantus and Timon YouTube page
Timon of Athens Preview YouTube page

Hamlet on the Street

Date: 2007
Posted by: Chris Barrett
Credits: Filmed by Chris Barrett. Powerhouse Pictures Entertainment
Cast: Craig Bazan (Hamlet)
Duration: 3.10

One of the most celebrated and most watched of original Shakespeare online videos in the short history of the genre. Eighteen year old Craig Bazan, a student at the Creative Arts High School, delivers the ‘O what a rogue and peasant slave am I’ soliloquy from Hamlet (Act 2 Scene 2), in a single shot with fixed camera on a street in Camden, New Jersey. Its its raw and immediate power comes as much from its setting as the passion of the performance. There is a real feeling that this is where Shakespeare belongs.

The video made such an impact that Bazan subsequently published a follow-up YouTube video to say thank you for all of the positive responses that had been received. Barrett and Bazan have now made Hamlet on the Street – Scene 2, in which Bazan plays the scene where Hamlet meets his father’s ghost and becomes possessed by it.

Date: 2007
Posted by: Chris Barrett
Credits: Filmed by Chris Barrett. Powerhouse Pictures Entertainment
Cast: Craig Bazan (Hamlet)
Duration: 4.18

Powerful once more, perhaps with a bit too much shouting, and not quite the impact of the inspired first video.

Links
Hamlet on the Street YouTube page
Hamlet on the Street – Scene 2 YouTube page