Posted by: Hassan Jamal
Cast: Guy Lillum
Credits: Homewood & Frankstown TV. Director/camera: Hassan; camera upload: Dr. D
Hassan Jamal is a Los Angeles-based poet and playwright, who is the mind behind the L.A. Subway Shakespeare Project. This is a series of black-and-white videos featuring African-American performers and shot at metro stops around the city. The ‘Street Shakespeare’ genre of performances given in the raw on (usually) American streets is one of the most effective forms on online Shakespeare, and this series is no exception.
In this example, actor and double bass player Guy Lillum takes a break from playing outside the World Stage Performance Gallery at Leimert Park. He leans knowingly toward the camera and gives us vivid renditions of Sonnets 138 (“When my love swears that she is made of truth”) and 144 (“Two loves I have, of comfort and despair”), in the versions as collected in the 1599 anthology The Passionate Pilgrim, before finishing off with some more bass lines.
Although the background noise is a distraction (albeit an integral part of street Shakespeare, effectively a necessary hazard), this is a first-rate video, with just the right degree of knowing address to the camera, sharing thoughts with the passer-by in the form of pointed poetry. A cooler Shakespeare performance you would hard-pressed to find.
Other videos in the series are The Merchant of Venice, Othello, another Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Winter’s Tale, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, King John and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Check them all out – they are smartly filmed and expertly performed. Some will be appearing on BardBox in due course.