There have been hundreds of screen adaptations of William Shakespeare‘s works. He’s been in movies and on TV. He’s been animated, abridged, and Baz Luhrmann-ed, but as far I can tell, he had never been turned into a web series before Ready Set Go Theatre Company figured out a way to put a fresh twist on the old bard.
The Brooklyn-based group is releasing a an online original on their YouTube channel based on one of the most frequently adapted plays in history: Othello. The company is producing the famous tragedy in 12 parts, with locations all over New York City acting as backdrops.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, director John Hurley explained that the Internet is an ideal extension of Shakespeare’s original medium. “The theater in Elizabethan England was the closest thing they had to the Internet,” he explained, “That’s where you went to meet people, learn, be entertained, cry, laugh. It all took place in the theater.” Ready Set Go also used the power of the Internet to help fund the project, raising over $4,000 on Kickstarter earlier this year.
The video description on the inaugural episode contains an important note: “This series is intended as a tool for teachers working to bring Shakespeare’s work to a new generation.” It’s a noble cause, and one that we saw CliffsNotes attempt in a similar way last year. Personally, I believe that if my teacher had shown us Othello in the form of a sleekly-shot web series, I might have been more inclined to delve deeply into the Bard’s oeuvre.
Othello‘s only noticeable flaw is the spotty sound editing, which is fairly choppy and occasionally out of sync. If Ready Set Go were to gain funding for expensive equipment from, say, the YouTube Next EDU Guru contest we talked about (they are educators, after all), it would be a match worth comparing to a summer’s day.