Posted by: Mike Knish
Cast: Zak Engel (Bottom), Mike Knish (everyone else)
Credits: None given
How many ways are there to film the high school assignment to make a Shakespeare video? Not nearly enough, to judge by the evidence. So many lame Hamlet raps, so many juvenile Star Wars parodies, so much poverty of the imagination (poverty of the props we must excuse, of course). Though a few of these videos do demonstrate some filmic skill (as recorded from time to time on BardBox), and through that an appreciation and understanding of Shakespeare, it is just a few.
Then we get this production, made by Mike Knish as a school assignment for Music History, it says. To say that it is good or bad is irrelevant – it’s just plain different. Two male students stand side-by-side in front of a large photograph of woodland in sunlight. One draws markings on his face, then other intones wordlessly. They then reads out lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the most wooden manner possible, reading from papers in their hands, making not the slightest effort to impart character or interest. The camera remains static, bar the occasional close-up of a face. They play music from a laptop when music is called for. One reads the part of Bottom, the other all the other characters, clumsily changing costume for each.
And so it goes on, and on, and on, for ten minutes. It is the antithesis of performance, a stoner’s Shakespeare, a Warholian school exercise, an end to pretension. I wouldn’t care to watch too many other videos like it, but I rather like this one. It has knowing ignorance.
And he got an A for the assignment.