At the Shakespeare Association of America’s annual meeting in Boston this weekend I’m part of a panel looking at the future of Shakespeare performance archives. My particular contribution is a paper on the digital domain, and one of the websites which I’m going to be mentioning is Bardbox, the blog by the British Library’s Luke McKernan.
He’s taken the unusual step of looking at the thousands of Shakespeare-related videos posted on sites like YouTube and Vimeo and made his own personal selection. While it’s easy to dismiss these sites as containing only repetitious, derivative videos it’s McKernan’s contention that interesting original and creative work is to be found there, and he’s made it his mission to unearth it.
The resulting website is a delight: no need to wade through endless people awkwardly intoning one of Shakespeare’s famous speeches. He’s done all the sifting for you and you know that anything he’s chosen is worth the time it takes to look at it. And his descriptions of the videos themselves are frank and often very funny.
Not many people will investigate the tab marked Cataloguing, but I love the way that McKernan has set up a standard template for describing the videos, and he’s also documented the videos which he selected but which have subsequently disappeared from the site in the Alas, alas section.
I think I’ve mentioned before that although not a Trekkie, I’m fond of the wackiness of Shakespeare “in the original Klingon”. So the video of a recital of “To be or not to be” by a man in full Klingon make-up is one of my personal favourites. And although I haven’t managed to find it on my latest trip to Bardbox I loved the recording of Marianne Faithfull’s As Tears go by twinned with scenes from Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V.
Do go and take a look around at this engaging site!