Shakespeare himself

Shakespeare (“Shayla” by Blondie)

Date: 2010
Posted by: historyteachers
Cast: Not given
Credits: Not given
Duration: 3.18

History for Music Lovers is a YouTube channel put together by a couple of history teachers from Honolulu with the intention of making the teaching of history of fun. They take historical events and figures, and put them to re-worded versions of pop songs with appropriate vidoe to match. Goodness knows how it is resourced, but the results are great fun indeed: Leonardo Da Vinci and the Beatles’ ‘Dear Prudence’, Roman history told to ‘Mambo no. 5’, the French Revolution to Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, Elizabeth I to The Zombies’ ‘She’s Not There’, and – sure enough – William Shakespeare sung to a version of Blondie’s ‘Shayla’. It’s not one of the best of the series, and it doesn’t tell prospective students much beyond the titles of plays, but what the heck?

Also in the series there’s Marianne Faithfull’s version of ‘As Tears Go By’, rewritten to tell the story of the Battle of Agincourt, with scenes from Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V:

YouTube page

Shakespeare Writes a New Play

Date: 2008
Posted by: meetwillshakespeare
Credits: Conceived and produced by Connor Ratliff and Jeff Falzone
Cast: Connor Ratliff (William Shakespeare)
Duration: 6.21

BardBox has already Chris Rozzi and Billy Harper as comedians who post videos in the guise of William Shakespeare. Now we have Connor Ratliff exhibiting similar intimations of grandeur. Ratliff produces the Meet William Shakespeare channel, in which he plays a William Shakespeare facing up to the modern world, while being smugly proud of his reputation. Here we are privileged to witness Shakespeare writing a new play. Act One sounds like the Bard has resorted to soap opera, but Act Four promises to be quite exciting. Then we get the off-screen interviewer asking Shakespeare if this change in his style isn’t going to upset his traditional fan base, to which Shakespeare sturdily replies that “Shakespeare is like a shark – he has to keep moving forward”. Those old plays, they took forever to write – now he produces seven a day. My hat is off to thou.

Links: YouTube page
Meet William Shakespeare channel
Connor Ratliff’s As They Go site

Hey, Shakespeare!

Date: 2004
Posted by: TheRealDanStrange
Credits: A Daniel Strange filme
Cast: Dan Strange (himself), Evanne Larsonne (‘Shakespeare’)
Duration: 2.14

Just how annoying might it have been, or might it be, to know the real William Shakespeare? Struggling writer Dan Strange finds out when he turns to Shakespeare for advice. “What percentage of the time would you say it was easy for you?” he asks. “I don’t know, like, 98, 99% per cent of the time” comes back the unwelcome reply. Never blotted out a line either.

Daniel Strange has only posted a few such mini-dramas centred on life’s frustrations, and ought to produce a few more. A droll vignette, with some strong language.

YouTube page

Crank that Shakespeare

Date: 2008
Posted by: zman15601
Credits: composer Jake Lehman, lyrics Bronson Domasky
Cast: Jake Lehman (singer, Hamlet, King Claudius, King Hamlet), Connor Downs (King Hamlet, Hamlet’s Friend, Ophelia, Gertrude, dancer), Jeffrey Moon (Horatio, crying spectator), Clayton Smoker (Shakespeare, Hamlet’s friend, dancer, backup singer)
Duration: 2.10

It is all too easy to sigh at yet another American middle school English project where the class has been encouraged to demonstrate that Shakspeare can be fun by producing a YouTube video. You may sigh even more at the all-too-obvious choice of rap, something whose novelty factor wore out years ago.

And yet, and yet. Look again. This is a terrific video. It displays such enthusiasm for the task in hand, which is to make a rap video out of the story of Hamlet. The lyrics are sharp, the editing is good, the music is strong, and the performances are goofy but dedicated to the cause. Care has been taken to make the individual scenes varied. In common with many such video spoofs, the titles are done in MTV-style, while the subtitles are helpful. Shakespeare himself turns up in the car for the chorus (“Hamlet here with my boy Shakespeare”) – he’s the one with a skull in his hand. It’s a fine English project that brings out such delight in recognising the vitality of the play.

YouTube page

Shakespeare does Sweet Home Alabama

Date: 2007
Posted by: billyharper11
Credits: Created by Billy Harper
Cast: Billy Harper (William Shakespeare)
Duration: 3.05

William Shakespeare, he likes nothing better when he’s relaxing at home with some friends to start singing songs and playing some air guitar. Here he invites us all to join in the party and sing along with Lynryd Skynryd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’.

British comic performer Billy Harper has played Shakespeare in a variety of comedy music modes on YouTube, miming to songs with some skill. There’s Shakespeare rapping to Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’, Shakespeare doing his Barry White impression, and Shakespeare as Snoop Dogg. Irresistible stuff.

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.

YouTube page

Shakespeare on Fantasy Football

Date: 2006
Posted by: crozzi
Credits: Created by Chris Rozzi
Cast: Chris Rozzi (William Shakespeare)
Duration: 2.08

Were William Shakespeare alive today, would he be blogging? Of course he would, and he’d probably become so engrossed by its spurious attractions that he’d never get round to writing any plays. Whether his blog, or vlog, would be like this one, who can say? I like to think that it might have been. American comedian Chris Rozzi portrays Shakespeare as posting his ‘semi-daily’ thoughts on modern living. Here, Shakespeare is baffled by the modern absurdity that is fantasy football. Elsewhere, Shakespeare tells us about the worst job he ever had (dancer in a jail cafeteria), on the need to teach children to fight (because when adults they’ll just want to hug), on professional wrestling (not Olympic wrestling, that’s just embarassing), his new diet plan (you’d only be able to eat in the shower) and agonising on why no one watches his vlogs. And there are several more. Gentle, silly humour with astute timing.

YouTube page
Chris Rozzi’s Outre Island website