Brian Cox Masterclass with Theo

Date: 2009
Posted by: hopscotchboss
Cast: Theo, Brian Cox
Credits: Filmed by Theo’s Dad
Duration: 2.40

This is the apogee of the mini-genre that is the toddlers-spouting-Shakespeare videos on YouTube. Here Brian Cox himself instructs thirty-month-old Theo in the ‘To be or not to be’ speech from Hamlet. The first thing to be said is that Theo learns his lines well and seems to be enjoying the process. Brian seems to be having a whale of a time too. Do we learn anything from this, or is it just cute? Maybe there’s an underlying belief that teaching children Shakespeare can only be good for them, the same way that playing them Mozart is supposed to improve their brain power. There’s no scientific evidence behind it, but heck what harm can it do? What I think both Brian and Theo discover is what satisfying sounds Shakespeare’s words make. As in other examples of this kind of toddler video, there is also the odd effect that Shakespeare’s words have when uttered by someone who has no inkling of their meaning. It brings their meaning home to us in a peculiarly direct way. How Brian Cox came to be involved in this family video is not made clear.

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Shakespeare – toddler style!

Date: 2007
Posted by: psychologyrulz
Cast: Tatiana
Credits: Filmed by Lyndon
Duration: 1.45

More children unaware of what they are saying when reciting Shakespeare. Here three-year-old Tatiana, aided by her two-year-old sibling, recites the ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy by reading from a computer screen. While some of these ‘cute kid’ Shakespeare videos seem to highlight in some revealing way the disparity between the innocent voice and the words being uttered, here one just marvels at how much a young brain can take in. I mean, just pronouncing ‘contumely’ correctly is an astonishing achievement.

YouTube page

Sari – Hamlet Soliloquy & The Lorax

Date: 2007
Posted by: groundlings123
Cast: Sari
Credits: Not given
Duration: 4.21

How long is YouTube going to last? I mean, will it still be around twenty years from now, when all those cute kids who have been thrust before the camera for the entertainment of the world grow to adulthood? What will they think of themselves, or their parents? How many of the videos will have been taken down by then, if YouTube hasn’t collapsed under one giant lawsuit or another?

Meanwhile we live for the moment, and in our survey of the best and most interesting of original Shakespeare videos online, we need to acknowledge the cute kid phenomenon, because it has touched (or has been touched by) the Bard as well. Here two-year-old Sari recites the ‘To be or not to be’ speech, along with with a piece from Dr Seuss. What does it mean to have such heavy words spoken by one wholly innocent of their meaning? Is it cute or disturbing? Or do we gain some extra awareness of those words by the very disparity between speaker and speech?

YouTube page