Kate the Cursed

Date: 2014
Posted by: Kate Minola
Cast: Emily Lubbers (Kate Minola), Julia Buchan (Megan Carpenter), Bryan Versluis (James Wright), Jenna Harman (Britt Minola), Devon Peacock (Hudson Vanderberg)
Credits: Golden Moose Productions. Created, written and directed by Emily Lubbers and Zoe Lorenz
Duration: 30 episodes

Here’s another web series updating Shakespeare to the milieu of the twenty-first century vlogging teenager. In this case it is The Taming of the Shrew, somewhat loosely adapted to give us the point of view of Kate Minola (“your average high school pessimist”), whose friend Megan encourages her to set up a vlog. Kate’s dilemma is that she doesn’t much like people, but her younger sister Britt is not allowed to date unless Kate does so first. The story is then fleshed out soap-wise by bringing in assorted friends and classmates, including James (a soft Petruchio).

Kate the Cursed (great title) is the creation of two Canadians, Emily Lubbers and Zoe Lorenz. It is slickly produced, plausibly scripted and convincingly performed by its young cast. It suffers from the limitations of the pseudo-vlog, because everything must be told through confessional statements to camera that are nearly always in the teenagers’ bedrooms, and there’s only so much textual analysis you can indulge in by looking at the objects they have on their walls. A restrained use of jump-cuts alleviates the sameiness of the shooting style somewhat, and some key scenes take place on a woodland vacation. But it is still people talking to camera, relentlessly, which inevitably palls (though one is not expect to watch such a series all in one sitting).

It has the usual literary web series spin-offs, including Twitter handles for the lead characters, Tumblr sites and Facebook account, and one can only be amazed at the energy and dedication that goes towards production these amateur epics. What does it tells us about Shakespeare’s play? In its way, quite a lot. Its aim is to make Kate understandable and the mistress of her own drama. She steps out of the play to talk in the language of her audience. On the Golden Moose Productions website there are some illuminating statements on why they chose Shakespeare over, say Jane Austen, to structure their series:

Another reason why we did Shakespeare over a full length novel is that there is more freedom with Shakespeare. In a novel, there are set plot points and with Shakespeare you pretty much just have the dialogue. So you can sort of take it to mean what you want.

That’s as good an argument for the Shakespeare adaptation as you could hope to find. Its meaning becomes your meaning. Kate the Cursed is not the best Shakespeare web series out there, but does show why this is such a valid and vital way of interpreting Shakespeare.

And it’s nothing like 10 Things I Hate About You.

Series trailer

All episodes on YouTube
Golden Moose Productions Tumblr site

Infinite Monkey Syndrome

Date: 2012
Posted by: James R. Ford
Cast: Not given
Credits: Produced by James R. Ford
Duration: 1.30

A few months ago it was reported that US programmer Jesse Anderson had set up a virtual set of some millions of monkeys (using Hadoop), all of them tying at random on virtual typewriters, and had managed produce something that was 99.99% Shakespeare – the first text to be achieved in this way being ‘A Lover’s Complaint’. Anderson had cut corners however, because every time the random typing came up with words that roughly matched something from the Shakespeare canon then they would be retained, if not then discarded. With this and other constraints, Anderson could achieve his goal. The purely random production of Shakespeare by an infinite number of monkeys remains something for the philosophers and theoretical mathematicians.

Or for a videomaker. This droll piece, made by British artist James R. Ford, is an extract from a 9 minutes 8 second loop (therefore designed in principle to run forever). It shows us a woman in a monkey suit, typing Shakespeare, as the tags to the video tell us, because otherwise we would not know (a photograph of the typewriter on the artist’s website indicates that only gibberish has been produced – so far). Is is a Shakespeare video? I say that it is – and so it is (and just to make the point this post has been tagged with all of the plays and poems). A video to watch, infinitely.

Jesse Anderson explains more about his project on this video:

YouTube page
BBC online news item on Jesse Anderson’s project
Jesse Anderson’s Million Monkeys Project
James R. Ford’s personal website

Brush up your Shakespeare

Date: 2009
Posted by: hanidahshan
Cast: Michael Zananiri (Fred Graham), Nabil Shukri (Lippy), Hani al-Dahshan (Slug), Mohammad Dijani (stage manager)
Credits: Directed and choreographed by Hani al-Dahshan, DOP and lighting by Ahmad Gobba, music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Duration: 8.52

A ‘music video’ homage to Cole Porter’s immortal ‘Brush up your Shakespeare’, from the musical Kiss Me Kate. The rendition itself is straightforward lip-synching, but the build-up exchange between the three protagnists, shot in moody monochrome, makes the video distinctive, even if the song then comes across as slightly anachronistic. Why is was made, and with such care, seems unclear, except that the filmmaker declares “I’ve been in love with this song for 2 years and finally decided to make it into a music video.” So here it is.

YouTube page

Kate and Petruchio

Date: 2007
Posted by: sniglfritz
Credits: Produced and edited by Nessa. Written by Nessa and Charlotte. Filmed by Nessa, Hannah and Charlotte. Music credits given at the end of the video. A Don’t Put This on Camera Production
Cast: Hannah (Hortensio, Bianca, Grumia), Nessa (Gremio, Lucentio), Charlotte (Petruchio’s Mother, Lucentio’s Playmate, Baptista)
Duration: 8.56 (the final 90 seconds are music only)

Lively parody of The Taming of the Shrew done as a Canadian school project, and presented in the style of a ‘Hollywood True Story’ TV programme. It intercuts rather well between its enthusiastic all-female cast (three of them, playing multiple roles) and stills of Kate (Angela Jolie) and Petruchio (Brad Pitt) – such wise choices – telling an everyday story of celebrity life.

YouTube page