Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project
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Streaming Video

Strange Brew.
Strange Brew: the Hoser Hamlet

We have collected a number of video recordings in our archives of plays, movies, television shows, documentaries, and cartoons dealing with adaptations of Shakespeare in Canadian contexts. In the Streaming Video section we have selected a sampling of clips that we found interesting, entertaining, and pertinent to the research outcomes CASP is pursuing.

Included in this portion of the site are, among others, two hilarious comedy sketches by Wayne and Shuster: The Shakespearean Baseball Game and Rinse the Blood Off My Toga. There is also a clip of a young  Alec Guinness giving acting advice at the first Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and a scene from South Park, where the kids travel to Canada to see Philip perform Hamlet. We have also created a page called Canadian Shakespeareans in Space, which details the rather extraordinary way in which Canadian thespians have consistently starred in science fiction movies that have significant Shakespearean content.

You will require Windows Media Player to view these video clips; visit Microsoft.com to download the player for free.

Newer video additions to the CASP multimedia archives have been posted in Quicktime format. Where noted, these clips will require Quicktime Media Player; visit apple.com/quicktime to download this player for free.

 

Table of Contents:

 

Short Films from the Shakespeare Made in Canada: Contemporary Canadian Adaptations in Theatre, Pop Media and Visual Arts Exhibit (January - June, 2007). Please note that several of these films are close to ten minutes long and will take some time to download:

  • Canada, Shakespeare, Pop Culture (2007) Produced by the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project and edited by Maxwell Summerlee.
    This short documentary film looks at the many ways Shakespeare is used in popular Canadian television and movies. Adaptations of his plays and characters are everywhere, and our understanding of Shakespeare is very influenced by these pop culture references. Some people's first encounters with Shakespeare occur through these media. Because Shakespeare is taught to so many students in school, television and moviemakers can rely on most of us to have at least some understanding of Shakespeare and his plays more than any other writer in history. The video uses archival footage housed on the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project website, the largest site in the world devoted to Shakespeare.
  • Shakespeare en Québécois (2007) Produced by the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project, written by Leanore Lieblein and edited by Brian Morel and Max Summerlee.
    Shakespeare en Québécois was created expressly for the Shakespeare -- Made in Canada exhibit, and it explores three seminal French Canadian adaptations of Shakespeare's work, each a "tradaptation" by Michel Garneau and directed by Robert Lepage. This short documentary illustrates the relationships among the dramatic text, their language, and their mise en scène.
  • What Means This Shouting (2007) Produced by the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project and co-directed by Marion Gruner and Sorouja Moll.
    What Means This Shouting? is a short documentary that explores adaptations of Shakespeare's plays by First Nations peoples in Canada. Its focus is Death of a Chief, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Death of a Chief was co-adapted and co-directed by Yvette Nolan and Kennedy (Cathy) MacKinnon for Native Earth Performing Arts (Toronto), the largest First Nations theatre group in the world. One of Nolan and MacKinnon's adaptations involves re-casting most of the male characters in Julius Caesar as female.
  • Romeo and Juliet Claymation (2006/07) Produced by the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project and created by Jackson Mill.
    Jackson Mill is a talented artist who created these original claymation videos when he was twelve-years-old for Speare: The Literacy Arcade Game and the Interactive Folio: Romeo and Juliet (available at www.candianshakespeares.ca). Each of Mill's short videos riffs on a particular line or scene from the play and from the video game Speare.  All of Mill's videos, including a hilarious bonus video (Shakespeare), are available here in a compilation video. Check out the brilliant colours and imaginative alien creatures that have been adapted to play the roles of Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, the Nurse, and the rest of Verona's citizens.
  • Teresa Przybylski's set for The Comedy of Errors at the Stratford Festival (1994)
    Animation of Teresa Przybylski's set for The Comedy of Errors, designed for the Tom Patterson Theatre at the Stratford Festival (1994).  The set, constructed of simple frames that were placed in strategic locations by the actors, is so minimal that it seems hardly there.  Movement of the frames was used very effectively by director Richard Rose to evoke the many locations in the play.
Music of the 'Speare poster
Music of the 'Speare poster

 

Interdisciplinary:

  • Curse of Rome (2008)

    In "Curse of Rome" video, a solo singer subverts Shakespeare's text of Julius Caesar to the restructured melodies of British baroque composer Henry Purcell. Video by artist Kenneth Doren.

  • Music of the 'Speare (2007)

    A multi-media performance with flutist/vocalist Ellen Waterman, The Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME) at the University of Guelph, and Video Artist Kenneth Doren who re-interpret existing adaptations of Shakespeare with improvised music and visuals. These performances highlight the breadth of interdisciplinary possibility inherent in Shakespearean adaptation as a distinct genre of cultural remixing.

 

           Theatre:

  • The Death of a Chief by Kennedy Cathy MacKinnon and Yvette Nolan
    The Death of a Chief rebuilds and restructures the historic tragedy of Julius Caesar to address Aboriginal issues concerning politics, gender, class, race, and nation.  This page features a 17-image slideshow from the February 2006 workshop as well as links to an interview with Yvette Nolan and draft versions of the script in progress.
  • Rod Carley's Shakespearean Adaptations
    Canadian director Rod Carley has produced an eye-popping eight wildly inventive adaptations of Shakespeare––from The Othello Project (included in CASP's Online Anthology) set in the American South in 1964, and taking its title from the Mississippi Project, a black voter registration drive marred by the murder of three civil rights activists––through to an adaptation of Coriolanus set in Tombstone, Arizona with Coriolanus figured as Wyatt Earp.
  • From The Compleat Works of Love (1994), David Bloom and Linda Quibell.
    A man. A woman. A bed. And Shakespeare. The Compleat Works of Love investigates sex and love in the modern world through language torn raw and breathing from Shakespeare.
  • From MacHomer (1995), Rick Miller.
    Rick Miller performs Macbeth by impersonating the characters from The Simpsons. This clip shows the video introduction to Miller's one-man adaptation.
  • From Danespotting (1997), Matthew MacFadzean and Amy Price-Francis.
    Choose Life. Choose the worst toilet in Denmark. Choose Danespotting. This clip shows Hamlet and Ophelia getting their fix.
  • From Rodeo and Julie-Ed (1999), Peter Skagen.
    Clips from Peter Skagen's Rodeo and Julie-Ed. We've chosen the introduction of Julie-Edwina and Rodeo and Julie-Ed's "suicide."
  • From richardthesecond (2001), Matthew MacFadzean.
    This clip from Matthew MacFadzean's one-man adaptation gives an example of the production's use of multimedia when his character, Richie Excellent, tries to explain to a reporter that he isn't dead.
  • It Was All A Dream: A Hip-Hopera (2004), Ben Taylor and Michelle Smith.
    This hip-hop adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream has two actors (Taylor and Smith, who also co-directed and co-wrote the adaptation) play fourteen different characters. Features original music by Martin Foote.
  • Pyramus and Thisbe (2004) by Arline Smith.
    'Shakespeare in miniature' -- this adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream reduces the play to a mere fraction of its original scale. CASP presents a multi-media look at Smith's performance as well as a whirlwind tour through the history of toy theatres.
Rinse my Blood off my toga
Rinse the Blood Off My Toga

 

           Television:

  • Macbeth (1961), CBC and Paul Almond.
    In 1961 the CBC School Broadcasts Department released a five-part production of Macbeth aimed at senior high school students. The parts aired on November 30th, and December 5th, 7th, 12th, and 14th. Adapted and directed by Paul Almond, the televised production notably starred Sean Connery in his first North American role, as well as his first time starring as a central character in a Shakespearean production of any kind.
  • The Shakespearean Baseball Game (1958), Wayne and Shuster.
    The sketch parodies a number of Shakespeare's plays, most notably Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Richard III, in the form of a baseball game.
  • Rinse the Blood Off My Toga (1954), Wayne and Shuster.
    A shortened version of Wayne and Shuster's 13-minute take on Julius Caesar first broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on The Wayne and Shuster Hour.
  • Royal Canadian Air Farce
    Perhaps Canada's best-known comedy troupe in action with the Bard––includes audio and video clips, a script, and other Air Farce materials. Interesting fact: "farce" was not a word Shakespeare ever used, though the word "farced" (as in stuffed or tumid") occurs once (Henry V, 4.1.280).
  • South Park's Canadian Hamlet (2001), Matt Stone and Trey Parker. 
    The kids from South Park travel to see Philip perform Hamlet (5.2) at the "Canadian Shakespeare Festival." This page contains audio and video clips.
  • History Bites: "Gratuitous Sex and Violence" (2002), S&S Productions.
    The premise of the Canadian-produced series History Bites is 'what if television was around through all periods of history?' Episode 85, "Gratuitous Sex and Violence," is set in the year 1601 where audiences get a behind-the-scenes look at the new play, Hamlet.
  • Slings and Arrows (2003-07).
    The cult-hit TV series "Slings & Arrows" spoofs the Stratrford Festival in a uniquely Canadian manner by detailing activities at the New Burbage Theatre Festival, a Shakespearean theatre company in crisis. Legendary veteran Geoffrey Tennant (Paul Gross) had his greatest theatrical triumph, as well as his most humiliating failure at the Burbage, and he now returns as Interim Artistic Director after the sudden death of his onetime mentor, Oliver Welles (Stephen Ouimette). Oliver is still present in spirit, and dispenses both guidance and disapproval to Geoffrey during his attempt to stage "Hamlet," the very play that led to Geoffrey's downfall at the Burbage seven years before.

 

           Film/Video:

  • Deepa Mehta and Shakespeare
    Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta cleverly uses Shakespeare within the context of her reading of both Indian history and Bollywood, exploring thecolonial legacy of Shakespeare in India, where he was used as a representative of Western values. Shakespeare's work has a long history of being adapted into Indian popular culture even after Indian independence. Clips on this page are from Bollywood Hollywood (2002) and Water (2005).
  • Scenes from The Stratford Adventure (1954), directed by Morten Parker.
    The Stratford Adventure is a documentary describing the history of the first Stratford Festival in 1953, starring Alec Guinness and Irene Worth.
  • From Strange Brew (1983), Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas and Steve de Jarnatt.
    Hamlet with toques, stubbies and hosers. The clip we've chosen is a brilliant interpretation of Ophelia's drowning.
  • Scenes from Shylock (1999), directed by Pierre Lasry.
    This excellent National Film Board of Canada documentary examines the history of Shakespeare's Shylock (The Merchant of Venice), the Jewish moneylender who seeks a pound of flesh as payment on a loan, within the larger context of anti-Semitism.
  • Canadian Shakespeareans in Space
    A page devoted to Stratford veterans William Shatner, Christopher Plummer, and the other Canadians who boldly went ... well, wherever they went. The page contains, among others, a clip of Plummer as the evil Shakespeare-spewing Klingon warrior General Chang (Star Trek VI), and Shatner performing a rap version of Julius Caesar (from  the movie, Free Enterprise).

 

           Radio and TV:

  • CBC has produced a fascinating archival document relating to Stratford: "From humble beginnings in a leaky tent to revered institution — the Stratford Festival has continued to attract actors, critics and theatre-goers from around the globe. Paradoxically, this almost proved to be its undoing. With international directors at the helm in the early years, frustrated Canadians sat on the sidelines. Financial problems almost shut the festival down. But the curtain would rise again on a new golden era, and its illustrious past as a training ground and showcase unlike any other is celebrated in high dramatic style." Click here to explore the CBC archives on Stratford, which include a 1957 interview with Duke Ellington, discussing his Stratford inspired suite Such Sweet Thunder, an intimate look at backstage goings-on at Stratford, a feature on Christopher Plummer, one of Canada's most illustrious and accomplished Shakespeareans, three different Canadian actors discussing the complexities of the role of Hamlet, and a host of other multimedia information, including a teacher's kit. For a French version of the same multimedia materials, click here.

 


 

Disclaimer: This site has been designed with only non-commercial, academic uses in mind. Although every effort has been made to secure permission for materials uploaded on the CASP site, in some circumstances we have been unable to locate copyright holders. Links may be made to our site but under no conditions are the texts and images to be copied and mounted onto another site server. Researchers using the site should accredit it following standard MLA guidelines on how to do so. Correct citation of information from the site is as follows:

Fischlin, Daniel. Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project. University of Guelph. 2004. <http://www.canadianshakespeares.ca>.

 

 

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