The Winter’s Tale

Infinite Monkey Syndrome

Date: 2012
Posted by: James R. Ford
Cast: Not given
Credits: Produced by James R. Ford
Duration: 1.30

A few months ago it was reported that US programmer Jesse Anderson had set up a virtual set of some millions of monkeys (using Hadoop), all of them tying at random on virtual typewriters, and had managed produce something that was 99.99% Shakespeare – the first text to be achieved in this way being ‘A Lover’s Complaint’. Anderson had cut corners however, because every time the random typing came up with words that roughly matched something from the Shakespeare canon then they would be retained, if not then discarded. With this and other constraints, Anderson could achieve his goal. The purely random production of Shakespeare by an infinite number of monkeys remains something for the philosophers and theoretical mathematicians.

Or for a videomaker. This droll piece, made by British artist James R. Ford, is an extract from a 9 minutes 8 second loop (therefore designed in principle to run forever). It shows us a woman in a monkey suit, typing Shakespeare, as the tags to the video tell us, because otherwise we would not know (a photograph of the typewriter on the artist’s website indicates that only gibberish has been produced – so far). Is is a Shakespeare video? I say that it is – and so it is (and just to make the point this post has been tagged with all of the plays and poems). A video to watch, infinitely.

Jesse Anderson explains more about his project on this video:

Links:
Vimeo page
BBC online news item on Jesse Anderson’s project
Jesse Anderson’s Million Monkeys Project
James R. Ford’s personal website

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