The idea for this post came to me as I was flipping through my copy of To Be, Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure<em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>, a choose-your-own-adventure version of Hamlet, written by the hilarious Ryan North, and illustrated by an army of incredible cartoonists and illustrators (including my personal favourite web cartoonist, Kate Beaton). If you ever find yourself concerned that ‘the kids these days’ aren’t getting enough Shakespeare in their diet, I invite you to stroll over to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where North’s project was born. Not only was <em “mso-bidi-font-style:=”” normal”=””>To Be or Not to Be the most successful Shakespeare Kickstarter ever, it was the most successful publishing Kickstarter ever, raising $560,000 ABOVE its original goal of $20,000! Rest assured, friends, the bard is alive and well and living…on the internet.
But not all Kickstarters are created equal. As keen as I am on exploring new ways of experiencing the bard, some of these projects are downright bonkers. Many of the projects are what you might expect: small theatres trying to put up a show or go on tour, musicians producing a Shakespeare-themed album, etc. But others…well, you’ll see!
7. Shakespeare Deathmatch – by Michael T. Desing
Pitch: A card-game battle of Shakespearean proportions that pits the bloodlust of Macbeth against the lunacy of King Lear, and more.
Verdict: Essentially the card game War with Shakespearen twist. You don’t even need a special deck, so I’m not clear on why he needs money to make this happen…
Shakespeare Says: “You are not worth another word, else I’d call you knave.”
(All’s Well that Ends Well)
6. Pulp Shakespeare – by Her Majesty’s Secret Players
Pitch: A boxer, two hit-men, and a gimp walk into the sixteenth century….
Verdict: Why mess with two good things?
Shakespeare Says: “Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage.” (As You Like It)
5. Shaking Spears – By Spear Carrier Productions
Pitch: The tragedies of William Shakespeare set to the music of the tragic Britney Spears.
Verdict: This is a natural pairing if ever I…No. I can’t do it. Please just hit me, baby, one more time. Or as the bard would say…
Shakespeare Says: “Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.” (All’s Well That Ends Well)
4. Shakespeare on the Trapeze! – By Matchbook Productions
Pitch: An inventive new production of Richard II, or as he was known in his day, That Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.
Verdict: For every time you’ve found yourself sitting in the theatre and thinking, “British Medieval history is great, but you know what it needs? More trapezes.” This is your play.
Shakespeare Says: “I do desire we may be better strangers.” (As You Like It)
Pitch: Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Shakespeare style. He’s back, and apparently he picked up some Elizabethan lingo while he was gone.
Verdict: ‘T2 or not T2?,’ was never a question that needed to be asked.
Shakespeare Says: “More of your conversation would infect my brain.”
Pitch: A unique NYC Fringe show that explores the natural intersections that occur when you combine tragic heroes, star-crossed lovers, scheming villains….with Shakespeare.
Verdict: Zany as this is, I would probably go see it just to hear Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream complain about “Hermia, Hermia, Hermia!”
Shakespeare Says: “I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-headed monster!” (The Tempest)
And the top spot on my list goes to this ambitious project, which proved to be too crazy, even for the internet (just let that statement sink in for a minute):
1. Translating Shakespeare into lolspeak – by Dorian Greyscale
Pitch: This project is seeking your hard-earned moneyz to translate the immortal words of the greatest poet of the English language into internet-speak. Plus cute pictures of cats.
Verdict: I’m sure this gentleman had only the best intentions, but I think we can all be grateful that no local bookstore will be forced to carry, ‘Teh Complete Werkz Ov Shakspr (+ kittehz!!!)’ anytime soon.
Shakespeare says: “I had rather chop this hand off at a blow, And with the other fling it at thy face.” (3 Henry VI)