Hamlet on YouTube

I was looking at something on YouTube the other day (maybe it was this animated project from Bud.TV), and noticed a so-called “Director Video” (I gather these are pay-for-placement) featuring an 18-year-old doing a monologue (not “To Be Or Not To Be”, to his credit) from Hamlet, apparently in a vacant lot:

He’s certainly givin’ ‘er, isn’t he? He’s got plenty of passion and enthusiasm, which is great. And he’s got the thing down, memorization-wise.

What the Words Mean

I’m no Shakespearean performance expert, but this piece highlights a really common difficulty in performing the Bard’s work: you can’t do a great job if you don’t understand the words. All the words. And not just what they mean, or meant in the 16th century, but also some context for their usage. A ‘fishmonger’ isn’t just a guy who hocks cod–it’s also a slang term for ‘pimp’.

Anyhow, I’m not picking on this kid–he seems to have the heart and spirit. You can probably teach the rest.

I did get to thinking about what other Hamlet-related videos I could find on the Tube.

As you might expect, there are many earnest, exceedingly-awful recitations of monologues. I’ll spare you those, but here’s a top tip to aspiring thesbians: memorize the speech instead of reading it off your screen. Here are some of the more interesting videos I found:

The wonderful (if overly fey) Derek Jacobi, along with Patrick Stewart as Claudius:

I’d forgotten all about Cat Head Theatre:

“Hamlet the Musical”, from Gilligan’s Island. That’s truly priceless: “From Ophelia, no one can steal ya, you’ll always be my own”.

And finally, here’s one young actor who’s got her lines down:

Here’s another one along similar lines, this time featuring sixth graders.


  1. Ok, you made reference to your liver-dwelling grammar Nazi, so I’m gonna give in to my kidney-residing spelling/typo Nazi and hit you up for thesPian.

    Love the vacant lot setting in the first clip.


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