Dallas Bill and The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Date: 2008
Posted by: texasdallasbill
Cast: Dallas Bill (Shylock), Steve
Credits: none given
Duration: 5.16

Dallas Bill is a white-beared, hat-wearing Texan who delivers speeches from Shakespeare in a folksy, reassuring style style. In this example, friend Steve introduces him in a form that makes you think of a low-budget cable channel. It cuts to Bill who greets us with a ‘Howdy’ before giving us a bit of the background to play and character, followed by the “Hath not a Jew eyes?” speech. He tells us what the import of the speech is, particularly its meaning for the Christian community. Unfortunately Bill then goes on to inform his audience that Portia is Shylock’s daughter, which of course she isn’t. The “quality of mercy” speech follows, the video ending with his catchphrase “This is Dallas Bill, doing a bit of Will”. It’s a sort of Shakespeare’s thought for the day.

Other examples to be found on Dallas Bill’s YouTube channel include the most familiar lines from Macbeth, Henry V, The Tempest, and a decidely creepy take on Othello, featuring Steve (for some strange reason tied to a wall) and occasional support performer Dottie. Knowing in style without knowing much, odd but quite charming.

YouTube page
Texas Dallas Bill’s channel

Hamlet: Prince of Denmark

Date: 2007
Posted by: ghitchco
Cast: Hitchcock (Hamlet), Julie Jones (Death), Daniel Fachler (Claudius), Edgar Miles (Guard), Bret Walden (Guard), David Reimche (Ghost)
Credits: script: Hitchcock, Julie Jones, Daniel Fachler; cinematography: Daniel Fachler, Chris Gillen; editing: Hitchcock
Duration: 7.13

Here’s the sort of Shakespeare video that YouTube is there to encourage. The filmmaker has been driven to put together his vision of Hamlet (for his Shakespeare class), and with camera, a few friends, the obliging help of a local church and cemetery (in Augusta, Georgia), his CD collection and bags of enthusiasm, he puts together this distinctive take on the ‘to be or not to be’ soliloquy. It is technically gauche and a bit silly in places, but it also shows real imagination and feeling for the play.

To begin with, the seven-minute film has a two-minute prologue, which in portentous dumbshow (and with ‘Carmina Burana’ blasting away over the top) shows Hamlet’s encounter with his dead father. The main title then follows, and we see that this is has been prelude to the main business, which is Hamlet delivering the soliloquy while dressed as a seminarian kneeling in church (the video is heavy on Catholic symbolism) and in then a cemetery trying to away from Death. And this is where the imaginative novelty comes in, because Death is a visible figure, female and dressed in white with white face mask. Death shares the words of the soliloquy, acting either as a prompter (“to be” says Hamlet; “or not to be” says Death) or as a voice in Hamlet’s mind, expressing the thoughts that he would rather not say. In the final line Death speaks the words, but it is Hamlet’s lips that mouth them.

It’s an intelligent conceit, thought out visually, and earnestly executed.

YouTube page
A droll teaser trailer for the Hamlet video