Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hamlet: The Soliloquy in Six Syllables

“Wayne the Zebra.” By Ben Caudell, Peter Holmes, Andrew Viner. Perf. Steve Box, Elisabeth Hadley, Andrew Jeffers, Colin Rote, and Bobby Ball. Dir. Richard Goleszowski. Rex the Runt. Season 2, episode 12. BBC. 9 December 2001. DVD. A&E Home Video, 2002.

Aardman Animations, Ltd. is perhaps best known for producing the delightful claymation adventures of Wallace and Gromit. And rightly so.

However, they also are the ones responsible for Rex the Runt. And "responsible" may be the right word—the show tends to be rude and scatological and is probably not geared toward the same age range as is Wallace and Gromit.

But I told you that to tell you this: If you needed any sort of confirmation that Shakespeare was deeply, deeply embedded in western culture, you have only to consider this clip from Rex the Runt. In it, one of the actors up for the audition (for the role of "Beast of Crannock Moor"—long story—watch the episode for more details) gives us just six syllables (since he's a G. I. Joe analogue, his lips are sealed shut from his date of manufacture):

With almost no clues (the bodkin, the word "soliloquy" and the phrase "cultured and all" may count as clues), the auditionee is able to convey Hamlet's "To be or not to be" with only these sounds: "Mmm mmm mm mmmm mmmm mmm."

Shakespeare: Persuasively Pervasive.

Links: The Film at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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