The Tempest – The Missing Scene

Date: 2015
Posted by: Noor Ghuniem
Cast: Maryam (Sycorax, The Lucifers), Maryam’s brother (Caliban, Sycorax’s Dad), Friend (Sycorax’s Mom), Friend (Ariel)
Credits: Noor, Maryam, Alexis (writer and directors), Noor (video editor), Alexis (cameraperson),
Duration: 9.00

So, who wants to know Caliban’s back story? Certainly Shakespeare doesn’t give us much to go on. All we know is that his mother Sycorax was a witch, came from Algiers, arrived on the island pregnant with Caliban, and died before the action of The Tempest begins. Now here’s a video to fill in this lamentable gap left by the bard.

Hearts may sink to see that this is another sock puppet video, but stay with it because it’s actually rather good. It’s a school project (age of the students unclear), and they have gone to a considerable amount of trouble to imagine a sustained and plausible prequel to The Tempest, explaining what made Sycorax so bitter and how she ended up on the island. There’s a substantial amount of pseudo-Shakespearean dialogue which hopefully got them good marks for effort. It’s a genuinely creative piece of imagination, conducted as best they could with the tools at their command. It ends with Sycorax’s death and Caliban taking over the island, leaving us still with the question of her influence on him, but for the rest of the story you’ll just have to watch – and hopefully applaud.

Links: YouTube page

Ophelia’s Lullaby

Date: 2008
Posted by: thedivisionbella
Cast: None
Credits: ‘Credits go to Myself [Carrie], Joseph, C.J, Square Enix / Disney Interactive (for transitional clips from the Kingdom Hearts video game series)’. Music from the Silent Hill video game series: “Room of Angel” by Akira Yamaoka from “Silent Hill 4: The Room”
Duration: 6.37

The cult of Ophelia is a strong one, and it is reflected in numerous online videos which amount to a significant subset of the kinds of work BardBox is interested in. Ophelia the rejected figure, lost in love, a tragic person caught up in someone else’s tragedy, has a strong iconographical appeal which finds outlet today in artworks, montages, photographic essays, self-portraits as Ophelia, videos and websites.

This example is a school project, and a remarkably accomplished one at that. Mostly in monochrome, it artfully combines shots of parting hands, water, flowers, a graveyard and quotations, overlaid by a sorrow-filled, new age-ish song of the kind intended to appeal to the Twilight generation. It demonstrates how the ease of production and access to digital media, alongside with sharing sites, has led to new avenues of expression for those whose emotional response to Shakespeare needs to find an outlet other than that offered by the scholarly essay.

YouTube page
Ophelia and Web 2.0 (site on Ophelia and popular culture)


Date: 2007
Posted by: hdflopeck
Cast: James Huessy (Iago), Samantha Dickey (Desdemona), Claudia Tellez (Emilia), Nathan Hutchins (Cassio), Mike Thomas (Othello)
Credits: There You Have It Productions presents. Shot and chopped by James Huessy
Duration: 9.37

How do you take a tale of jealousy, power and racial prejudice in 16th century Venice and reposition it in a 21st century high school in Vermont? The feature film O demonstrated very ably how it is possible to translate Othello‘s particular passions to a modern-day American setting, but such a bold stroke of the imagination requires technical skill beyond the imagination and budget of the average high school English project. But that’s no reason not to try, and this is a lively and intriguing failure. The style adopted is to intercut often overlapping dialogue between the performers (the opening titles claim that the video was unscripted) with pieces to camera from the leading players, as they explain their actions – with the peculiar exception of Othello himself. The tone wavers uncertainly from seriousness to mocking, so that we get a vigorously conducted strangulation scene but then a silly suicide from Othello. Perhaps what’s most interesting is that Iago is the director, editor and lead performer, while Othello seems unclear what he is supposed to be doing (he questions how to pronounce Iago in the end credit ‘outtake’ sequences), redued to a mere cipher (his name is bottom of the acting credits). Iago the engineer of his own downfall, Othello the minor dupe – with a little more seriousness this could have been a quite interesting attempt at portraying the tragedy of Iago.

YouTube page

How to marginalise women like a Shakespearean

Date: 2008
Posted by: 104thouot
Cast: Mike, Bob, Jake, Steve
Credits: Made by Jake, Bob, Mike and Honeybuns
Duration: 5.29

A smart critique of Shakespearean dramatic logic (specifically Hamlet) and the treatment of women. It is made in the most rudimentary form with stick-people drawings, overlaid by commentary in the form of advice to the distracted male. So Hamlet, things are looking bad for you, but what’s worse is that your girlfriend’s going crazy. What do to?

Well, as any good Shakespearean knows, a verbose use of dialogue’s absolutely essential to the situation. Tell her your plans and hope she understands? That’s not a good idea. As everyone knows she’ll probably misunderstand because her mind works differently. Instead of listening to logic she will attempt to describe how your lives together will be much better than any silly bit of revenge your deceased father has cooked up in the underworld. To avoid this, it is always best to profess that you have never loved her…

And so on. The American 12th grade students who made this jest know the play well (though not so well that they don’t get a few words wrong in their quotations) and have thought about it acutely, albeit with all the narrowness of a 21st century sensibility. Once you have taken from Shakespeare all feeling and poetry, perhaps all you do have left are stick people.

YouTube page

Straight Outta Denmark

Date: 2004
Posted by: soonest2turn
Credits: Not given
Cast: Not given
Duration: 2.58

School project Shakespeare raps are scattered all over YouTube, and most are lame and annoying. This Grade 12 English project video from Canada stands out from the crowd by some realistic venom amid the goofy performance, and its strong language (a broadminded English teacher was involved, clearly). The lyrics show a strong engagement with the play, more than vindicating the exercise:

Straight Outta Denmark a crazy m———r named Hamlet
I’m a bad ass hero that’s tragic
Thoughts are pending, time’s not mending
Tragic means I die in the ending.

The full text is given on the YouTube page. Just a shame about the half-hearted lip-synching.

YouTube page

When Hamlet met Ophelia

Date: 2007
Posted by: lpdisney
Credits: Storyboard and animation by Liron Peer, background colouring by Shaul Dadon
Cast: Shaul Dadon (Ophelia), Liron Peer (Hamlet)
Duration: 0.48

An animation of Act 3 Scene 2 of Hamlet (‘Lady, shall I lie in your lap?’), made by a student in the third year of Animation Studies at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. The animation is assured but conventional; the novelty comes in that the dialogue is in Hebrew (without subtitles). Title and credits are bi-lingual.

YouTube page
Liron Peer’s website

情非得已 Qing Fei De Yi MV based on Love Labour’s Lost

Date: 2005
Posted by: objredline
Credits: Directed and edited by Long Lin and David Wu
Cast: Annie Brown, Long Lin, David Wu
Duration: 7.04

A curious cross-cultural mix, a karaoke Shakespeare of sorts. It is a mixture of music video and modern language version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, inspired by the pop song ‘Qing Fei De Yi’ by Taiwanese singer/songwriter Harlem Yu. The cast is Chinese-American, and the song which is performed for most of the video is their own rough (and painfully flat) rendition of Harlem Yu’s original. We are told that play and song were so similar in theme that it seemed logical to blend the two together. Produced as a high school literature project from Grindle Gifted Language Arts, Shakespeare Unit, 6th period.

YouTube page