The Hamlet of YouTube

Date: 2007
Posted by: shaktim
Credits: Filmed by Tim Maloney
Cast: Tim Maloney (Hamlet)
Duration: 3.52

Only on YouTube. In 2007 American Tim Maloney, anxious to be recognised as an actor, launched out on an exercise to provide multiple intepretations of the ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy from Hamlet, a project which he now says has a target of 365 takes. So that’s 365 different renditions of the soliloquy, each numbered and published on YouTube. They are filmed with assorted plain backgrounds, some while holidaying in India; many feature rudimentary editing effects and video distortion, with rock music backgrounds. Maloney’s scheme has clearly grown in ambition as it has progressed, and he now describes it as:

… one actor taking one monologue, or in this case, a soliloquy from Hamlet, arguably one of the most famous of all of Shakespeare’s plays and offering YouTubers a unique insight into what its actually like for an actor to ‘Work out a Character’ using repetition as part of the rehearsal process.

while he now labels himself ‘The Hamlet of YouTube’.

Almost needless to say, none of the interpretations is any good in the conventional sense. Maloney is singularly bad as an actor (and filmmaker), enunciating with agonising slowness and rolling his eyes a good deal, but unable to extract even the slightest trace of poetry or meaning (touchingly, at one point he writes that his renditions have now improved after consultation of Cliff’s Notes). But, to the observer, this is not the point. This is a Warholian exercise in obsessive repetition, using the online video medium (including its mode of publication) to extend its possibilities to logical absurdity. Whether it is ‘good’ or not is irrelevant. It is the banality, not the hoped-for profundity, that distinguishes the exercise.

Above is number one in the series. Maloney’s channel includes 129 more (so far) interpretations, plus other fanciful audition pieces (he harbours a similar ambition to appear in the TV series Boston Legal). The sheer audacity of the effort has attracted increasing notice (his wish is to be feted on Oprah as a ‘YouTube Star’), though so far it would appear that his acting career has been limited to an appearance in a TV commercial and a performance as Hamlet in a peculiar online movie spoof, Hamlet vs Goodzilla. Good luck to him.

Hamlet no. 1 YouTube page page
Tim Maloney …The Hamlet of YouTube channel
Tim Maloney’s personal site

11 thoughts on “The Hamlet of YouTube

  1. Tim Maloney says:

    Hi. I thank you so much for your frank remarks about my Hamlet exploration. I would have loved to have had some of your critique earlier in my exposition. Perhaps you might consider changing one thing in your notes and that would be the spelling of my name. no H … its an L. Appreciate all good and not so good comments… as I am and have also shared that I have very little Shakespeare training, but do feel akin to him… I’m glad I found you and look forward to more posts. I’m up to Hamlet 179, which was done after watching Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet… I hope you enjoy. peace, Shaktim (as a note, one of my Hamlet TAKES is being featured (one sentence) in a Documentary about Shakespeare airing in the UK on Christmas Day on their version of PBS.)

  2. bardbox says:

    Hi there,

    Thank you for taking my frankness with such good grace. I shall continue to follow what you are doing with interest (and it is interesting), and congratulations on the recognition from PBS. I hope the documentary makes it to the UK somehow.

    Apologies for getting your surname wrong – I’ve corrected this.

  3. Tim Maloney says:

    You’re Welcome … and I certainly did learn a lot from the essay. I mentioned that the documentary was airing on the UK’s version of PBS, Channel 4.

    Here is the production companies promo about the Documentary:

    Whats it like to play the great Shakespearean roles? This forthcoming documentary film will accompany a season of classic Shakespeare performances on Channel 4 and is due to be transmitted on Christmas Day 2008.

    To Be Or Not To BeIn Shakespeare will explore the human realities of taking on these iconic parts. Seneca Productions is in the process of interviewing some of the nations most celebrated interpreters of Shakespeare in what we hope will be a witty and revealing exploration of the agonies and the ecstasies of playing the Bard. The result will be an engaging insight into the greatest dramatic writer ever born, by some of the people who have gotten to know him best the actors who have spent huge swathes of a lifetime playing his roles.

    very well wishes and I have set up an additional playlist where I am going to decipher EACH sentence of the soliloquy and offer up the various versions of thoughts I find on the subject. Perhaps you might offer me some other sources besides the cliff notes and Valorium.
    peace, Shaktim

  4. bardbox says:

    Apologies for being so dumb as to not read your first email properly. I’m delighted to hear about the documentary on Channel 4, and the accompanying film season.

    Don’t look up what someone else thinks about the soliloquy – say what it means to you. But don’t speak a word if you’re not sure of what it’s doing there (the fault of so many weak Shakespearean performances). Those who know what they are saying have so much more to say.

  5. bardbox says:

    I don’t know whether to be flattered or shamed, but either way performance no. 180 is rather fine. Keep going.

  6. Tim Maloney says:

    Please be flattered. I truly was waiting for one of my many acting teachers to step up with some advice. I am only glad I stumbled upon your opinion and thanks for the help. I hope to keep on.

  7. Tim Maloney says:

    Did you happen to see Ian Mckellen on Christmas Day in the Documentary I mentioned? It was on Channel More 4. It is available on demand for the next 30 days after broadcast date. I can’t get it here. I am now up to Hamlet 210 on YouTube and also happy to share I’ve been invited into a classical master class with a director who has played Hamlet. Happy New Year!

  8. bardbox says:

    Hi Tim,

    Sorry the late reply – I’ve rather neglected BardBox of late and must get on with adding new titles. Yes I did see the C4 documentary – To be or not to be in Shakespeare. And I saw you, albeit fleetingly. It was a good documentary of its kind, but it’s a shame it didn’t explore the world of online video more. Essentially it was about playing Shakespeare on stage, and it just used the YouTube Shakespeareans as filler, missing out on what might have been judged the more interesting story. At least I think so.

    A belated happy new year to you too.

  9. Tim Maloney says:

    Hi. I thought I would stop by and share one of my newer vids… on my way to uploading my way toward HAMLET 365. I was very fortunate to meet a teacher/director who graduated from Juilliard, who has played Hamlet and who is quite a Stanislavski god. I got to work ‘To Be or Not To Be’ with him in class and I was cast in a workshop production of Macbeth as King Duncan / Siward. It was an honor to be in this production as it marked my first time in a Shakespeare play, which was my opening request to the Universe in Hamlet 1 on YouTube. I’m also fortunate to have worked with a technician like Geoffrey Owens, who has truly taken the mystery out of Shakespeare for me. Currently I am working the continuation of the scene when Ophelia enters… Here is one of my most recent Hamlets, peace, Shaktim The Hamlet of Youtube

    I look forward to your specific insight!!!

  10. bardbox says:

    You’re certainly getting more and more into this – it’s a fine reading. Some effective unexpected emphases, and I like the closed eyes when Hamlet talks of “the insolence of office” and the look of delight when stressing the word “fly”. Shame about the dissolve in the middle though. Keep going, and congratulations on the workshop. WordPress now allows YouTube videos to appear in comments, which is handy.

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