7 Ages

Act I – Intro/The Infant

Date: 2008
Posted by: SuperMegaActionPlus
Credits: Produced by Andrew Smaje, handmade by SuperMegaActionPlus
Cast: none
Duration: 2.25

This is the first of a series of seven trailers produced for the 2008 Unplugged Shakespeare festival at the Theatre Royal Bath, each dedicated to one of the ‘seven ages’ from Jacques’ speech in As You Like It. The video production company behind the series describes its work thus:

Our brief was to create a silent short film for each of the seven ages of man from the ‘All the world’s a stage…’ speech in ‘As You Like It’. Each film had to appeal to its featured age group, and work as both a silent film (to be shown in shop windows around Bath during the festival) and with audio for a showing at our local independent cinema, the Little Theatre Cinema, Bath.

The videos are dynamic amalgams of animation, cut-out images, archive film, performance, sounds and wry references to Shakespeare’s words, giving them a stylish contemporary twist. They are well worth checking in their widescreen through the direct YouTube links below (or see the higher resolution copies, hosted by Vimeo, available on the SuperMegaActionPlus site – they look terrific full screen). The opening video (above) introduces the ‘seven ages’ theme before a brief but imaginative take on infancy as the first age. Each ‘age’ in the series is then expressed in a different visual style, from computer games (The Schoolboy) to rap (The Soldier) to total silence (The Pantaloon). Marvellous stuff, which just goes to show how much of an inspiration Shakespeare is to the creative filmmaker. Be sure to catch them all.

Act I: Intro/The Infant (2.25 mins)
Act II: The Schoolboy (2.48 mins)
Act III: The Lover (6.38 mins)
Act IV: A Soldier (3.35 mins)
Act V: The Justice (2.57 mins)
Act VI: The Pantaloon (6.02 mins)
Act VII: Sans (4.37 mins)
SuperMegaActionPlus site
SuperMegaActionPlus’s Vimeo pages

Vincent Victoria’s ‘Hamlet Monologue’

Date: 2008
Posted by: Kylevic9
Credits: Created by Vincent Victoria
Cast: Vincent Victoria (Hamlet)
Duration: 1.15

Among the considerable number of ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquies to be found on YouTube, few show the sort of originality displayed here. American ‘serio-comic’ actor Vincent Victoria has developed an unusual specialism, creating videos in which the words are heard off screen and his face, filmed in close-up, reacts to what it is hearing. Here Hamlet’s words (presumably spoken by Victoria) are uttered while his face is shown through a barrage of jump-cuts, dissolves, slow motion and stop motion effects. The result is a memorable depiction of a disordered mind, weakened slightly by cutting the soliloquy short and signing off cheaply with the words, ‘To be or not to be – that is always the f——- question’.

YouTube page
Vincent Victoria’s web page

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


Date: 2006
Posted by: RobbieDingo
Credits: Story, animation, props, camera work and original music by Rob Wright, a.k.a. Robbie Dingo
Cast: Second Life animated figures
Duration: 3.27

This unusual and rather haunting animation was made as a Machinima movie (filmmaking within real-time, 3D virtual environments) in Second Life. It takes as its inspiration the ‘All’s the world’s a stage’ speech from As You Like It (Act 2 Scene 7), and calls itself Stage because of its stage-like setting, its reflection on the stages of life, and ‘The Seven Ages of Man’. Apart from the opening quotation and the expressed intentions of the author (whose Second Life identity is ‘Robbie Dingo’) there is little that connects the film with Shakespeare’s work, but inspiration is as important as interpretation to BardBox. A succession of fathers and sons play a circular tune on a piano, the boys growing up to be men and accompanied by their sons in their turn. All the while a toy train circles round and round endlessly. The figures may verge on the creepy, but the film has something.

Stage was Winner of the Best Film award at the June 2006 Alt-Zoom festival.

YouTube page
Internet Archive page
My Digital Double, Robbie Dingo’s blog


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.

YouTube page
Dominic Kelly’s personal site

the tragedie of othello IV.1

Date: 2008
Posted by: ishakespeare
Credits: Directed by William Mann
Cast: William Mann (Othello), Christopher Lynch (Iago)
Duration: 3.18

More intensity from the Chamber Shakespeare Company, or ishakespeare (see previous post on the Company’s Hamlet), this time with two video extracts from its stage production of Othello. In othello’s perspective we experience a flat-toned Iago tormenting Othello, who is holding the camera. So we witness Othello’s fevered despair by seeing it literally from his point of view. While the kneeling Iago is all stillness, Othello ranges about all over the place, the mobile camera incoherently taking in floor, ceiling, lights, darkness, Iago. The result is barely audible, and certainly not all that intelligible as the recording of a stage performance, but it works well in the form of an experimental video, where the world that this Othello sees – that is, the theatre in which he is performing – turns into a bewildering mélange of colours, shapes and indistinct sounds as his own world collapses about him.

Date: 2008
Posted by: ishakespeare
Credits: Directed by William Mann
Cast: William Mann (Othello), Christopher Lynch (Iago)
Duration: 3.55

The video’s companion piece is iago’s perspective. Now we see the same action from Iago’s point of view (clearly not filmed at the same time, since Othello carries no camera). From Iago’s eyes we look down on Othello writhing upon the ground. Grainy, out of focus for much of the time, with Iago’s drab tones off-camera, the result is arguably not Iago’s perspective at all but rather another way of looking at Othello’s inner anguish. It is more conventional than the first video, but together the two pieces raise all sorts of interesting questions on how theatre may be filmed, what it means to film theatre, and how the camera – one way or another – is always a performer. In the final ‘shot’ (the whole video, as with the first, is one take), Iago pans round to film himself in a mirror and tells us, “I hate the Moor”.

othello’s perspective YouTube page
iago’s perpective YouTube page
Chamber Shakespeare Company

the tragedie of hamlet

Date: 2008
Posted by: ishakespeare
Credits: Directed by William Mann
Cast: William Mann (Hamlet), Christopher Lynch (Horatio)
Duration: 8.21

The Chamber Shakespeare Company (also known as the ishakespeare company) describes itself as a

not-for-profit artistic collaborative to research and explore the possible application of mythic and symbolic theatre traditions, such as Greek Tragedy, Japanese Noh and Ta’ziyeh, to productions of the work of William Shakespeare.

The Company takes a ‘minimalist’ approach, with an emphasis on bare staging, multi-part casting and ritualistic presentation, with the intention of creating production which are not constrained by social and cultural boundaries.

The Company is in the process of filming its productions, but the sample videos that it has published on YouTube are of a more experimental in kind, constructed as exercises in style. In chamber hamlet I.2 + I.5, Hamlet learning of the ghost’s existence from Horatio is depicted in blurred and grainy close shots, with handheld shots framed as best they can to Hamlet’s face as he moves about the small ‘stage’, Horatio’s calm voice off-camera. The result is intense and not always easy to look at (an entire production filmed this way would be unbearable) or, at times, to hear. But as an attempt to present a mind becoming disordered it is effective, and might be argued to be more successful in depicting a stateless Hamlet than the original staging would have achieved, with all the distracting reality of the ‘theatre’. They have recognised that film changes as it records, and have let the camera dictate the action, with hallucinatory results.

Date: 2008
Posted by: ishakespeare
Credits: Directed by William Mann
Cast: William Mann (Hamlet), Christopher Lynch (Player 1), Hayley Roberts (Player 2)
Duration: 4.11

In this second video extract, chamber hamlet II.2, two players put on a performance for Hamlet of the slaughter of Priam by Pyrrhus during the fall of Troy. The dramatic style is that of Japanese Noh theatre, while the low position of the virtually static camera recalls the methods of film director Yasujirō Ozu (the camera being like an unacknowledged third person seated in a typical Japanese setting). Poor sound recording, however, dims the impact.

See also the Company’s video interpretation of Othello
hamlet I.2 + I.5 YouTube page
hamlet II.2 YouTube page
Chamber Shakespeare Company