Star Wars

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.

YouTube page

Hamlet’s Tale of Awesome

Date: 2007
Posted by: JesseMeza07
Credits: Written by Jesse Meza, animated by Jesse Meza and Nick Sampson, artwork by Nick Sampson
Cast: Jesse Meza (voices)
Duration: 3.50

Genuinely funny cut-down Flash animated version of Hamlet, apparently produced as a school project, though at times it looks too professional. A little more attention to the final scenes, where the filmmakers appear to have become a bit bored with their subject, would have turned it into a good film. The video skims through the ghost’s first appearace (“Casper? Is that you?”), ‘to be or not to be’, Hamlet’s questionable sexuality, the ghost telling Hamlet that he is his father (“Wow, you can recite Star Wars quotes”), a play performed by sock puppets entitled “How a King killed his brother and married his wife”, a bloodbath of revenge in which everyone dies, and Fortinbras becomes king (“Pretty dull, right?”). The result is not just a spoof of the familiar, but highlights those aspects of the play that might seem ridiculous, dull or simply not credible to a high school audience. It puts up to ridicule those absurdities all too evident to the indifferent.

YouTube page

My name is Macbeth

Date: 2006
Posted by: SupaComix
Credits: Directed and animated by Nick Browne, music by Mitch Benn
Cast: Lego
Duration: 4.27

A Lego animation, marrying the story of Macbeth to a rap accompaniment not so far away from Eminem. The animation is rudimentary by some brickfilm standards, but it makes a virtue of its roughness, and serves as a witty comment on the play. The obligatory expletives have been deleted. The assorted Lego figures include characters from Star Wars as the three witches. The film was directed and animated by Nick Browne, who manages the Supa Comix website, which is dedicated to the worlds of online media and comic books. This is an output of one of the site’s projects, ‘We 3 Men’. Music is by Mitch Benn (with a burst of Green Day over the credits).

YouTube page

Hamlet vs Laertes

Date: 2003
Posted by: Joe9185
Credits: Joe9185
Cast: unnamed
Duration: 2.55

There are many Star War spoofs of Shakespeare out there. This is one of the better ones – a well-made enactment of the duel between Hamlet (with beard) and Laertes, with light sabres. Produced as a project for Damascus High School in 2003. Just a shame about the lame humour at the end.

YouTube page