Dog Hamlet

Date: 2012
Posted by: Picuco09
Cast: Hamlet (Hamlet)
Credits: Created by Eduardo J. Diaz, Mark Leydorf
Duration: 2.32

It is the 23rd of April, 2016, and all the world over people will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the passing of one of the most successful of all YouTube contributors. William Shakespeare was an Elizabethan playwright with extraordinary insight into what would appeal to a twenty-first century audience with a mobile in its hand and only a few minutes’ attention span. As of today, should you type in his name into the YouTube searchbox, you will get 1,580,000 results. That’s more than any author’s name that I can see (Dickens? a paltry 474,000. J.K. Rowling? a mere 203,000). This is a writer who remains right on the button, with a name worth searching for.

And so, to celebrate this quatercentenary, here is as good an online Shakespeare video as you could hope to find. It is the Hamlet “to be” soliloquy, as seen through the eyes of a New York fox terrier by the name of Hamlet (is he the first Hamlet ever to play Hamlet?). Shakespeare’s somewhat altered words are spoken for him, but we see the world through his eyes (the camera remains at dog height throughout). It’s a delightful jeu d’esprit, with some obvious but excusable punning (“must give us paws”, for example), smart camerawork and editing, a tasteful harpsichord soundtrack, and central performance of great feeling. Yes it’s mostly cute, but it is also a little wise in its way it takes Hamlet from resignation to contentment, and artful in how it marries affection for Shakespeare with affection for a pet.

No other author could have inspired such a work. That’s what we should be celebrating.

Links: YouTube page

The Winter’s Tale Shakespeare for Kids

Date: 2009
Posted by: bubbales
Cast: Peirce (Leontes), Nazim (Antigonus), Thomas (Camillo), Lauren (Hermione/Perdita), Braden (Polixenes), Barbara (Paulina), Trevor (Old Shepherd), Buttercup (bear), Michelle, Ben
Credits: Directed by Michelle, Barbara, Trevor; set design by Nazim, Ahmet, Braden, Peirce; music selection Barbara, Michelle; camera Barbara, Ben, Nazim, Trevor; film editing Barbara; pupeteers Michelle, Lauren, Nazim, Trevor, Barbara; costumes Michelle, Trevor. A Later Shakespeare Production
Duration: 11.00

On the eve of Shakespeare’s birthday, BardBox’s latest discovery is this this delightful, extraordinary, weird and stylistically rich version of The Winter’s Tale. Delightful, because it is an American schoolchildren’s production of the play (in modern language and condensed to 11 minutes) which is done with such happy enthusiasm that it is a cast-iron argument all by itself for introducing Shakespeare to children at any age.

Extraordinary, because there is nothing else out there quite like it. It is unusual among online Shakespeare videos in attempting to express all of the plot of one of the plays in the short space available. It also stands out for its invention, with child and adult actors, video and still images probably employing some sort of software designed for schools projects, interiors and exteriors, with several surprise inventions, including the handy use of a map to show the distance between Sicilia and Bohemia.

Then weird, because in some respects it is a really quite peculiar experience. Seeing young children performing Shakespeare always makes you wonder if they know what it is they are doing, and if the adults involved had really thought it through, with the odd plot, odd names, odd settings, odd everything (except the language, which is not Shakespeare’s). Just what were children of six or seven supposed to make of what they were being asked to do? Except that everyone seems to be enjoying themselves so much, the exercise seems more than justified, certainly to be more than just being ‘cute’ for cuteness’ dubious sake.

And then stylistically rich, because there are so many of the particular tropes that BardBox has highlighted over the years bundled up in one video. Children speaking Shakespeare, school projects, Lego figures (Yoda as the oracle), Star Wars references, puppets, animals (a small dog plays the bear) – they are all there. Coupled with wooden acting (though Leontes expresses his rage rather well), shaky camerawork (some of it by the children) and erratic sound, this is the quintessential YouTube Shakespeare. And it all ends in a happy dance, just as such a play should do.

Happy birthday, William.

YouTube page


Date: 2006
Posted by: viewmistress
Credits: Conceived, designed and directed by Lyn Kagen. A Puppet Anarchy Production. Copyright Lynne Cohen
Cast: Tim Lagasse (Moth)
Duration: 2.24

A moth is seen fluttering by a candle in the night. We cut to a close-up of a sock puppet of the moth, which then utters most of the ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy from Hamlet, though this rendition ends with the words ‘The rest is silence’. The moth flies into the flame. The end.

A rather poignant effort, artfully done with effective changes in camera angle.

YouTube page

Cat Head Theatre

Date: 2002
Posted by: nakedrabbit
Credits: Directed by Tim Maloney for Naked Rabbit, John Hoffhines cat wrangler and composer
Cast: John Over (Hamlet)
Duration: 3.29

Engaging spoof of the Masterpiece Theatre-style of TV theatre presentation (complete with avancular introduction), with cut-out animation of cats performing part of Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2, where Hamlet meets with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The witty presentation (which may owe something to the cut-out cat style made famous by Joel Veitch’s Rather Good site) and the eccentric quality of the verse-speaking make this stand out from the usual Shakespearean tomfoolery. One of the most viewed of Shakespeare productions on YouTube.

Available on the DVD God Hates Cartoons
YouTube page