To parody or not to parody: Gotye video inspires APT's 'Hamlet' version

2013-09-09T09:00:00Z To parody or not to parody: Gotye video inspires APT's 'Hamlet' versionROB THOMAS | The Capital Times | | @robt77
September 09, 2013 9:00 am  • 

Now you’re just some Dane that I used to know.

William Shakespeare wrote “Hamlet” somewhere around 1600. Gotye released his monster hit song “Somebody That I Used To Know” in 2011.

But the two come together, thanks to some inventive actors and filmmakers and their iPads, with a hilarious parody of the song’s video using actors from American Players Theatre’s current production of “Hamlet.”

Actor Ricco Fajardo (who plays Cornelius in APT’s “Hamlet”) and his girlfriend, filmmaker Haley Esposito (who works in the APT box office) made the video initially for APT members and their friends in late August. But at the actors’ urging, they posted the video online, where it’s gotten over 1,300 views on YouTube.

Which is short of the 427 million views that the original Gotye video has gotten on YouTube, but it’s a start. The original he-said, she-said song and video features a male vocalist (Gotye) lamenting over a lost love, only to be upstaged in the last verse by a female vocalist (Kimbra) who sets the story of their relationship straight.

While they were working on “Hamlet,” APT core company actor David Daniel (who plays Polonius) mentioned to Fajardo that the lyrics Gotye sings could easily apply to Ophelia.

Fajardo and Esposito are from Dallas, and make short online videos using iPads under the name Bean Clawz Productions. So they took the idea and ran with it. They presented the idea to Matt Schwader, who plays Hamlet, and Christina Panfilio, who plays Ophelia.

“Matt and Christina were down with it,” Fajardo said. “At this point in the season, September/October, we have a few weeks left of performing, but we actually have free time to talk to each other and hang out. So, of course, because we’re workaholics, we’re like ‘Let’s make something.’”

The actors spend two hours in Fajardo and Esposito’s living room lip-syncing to the video against a blank white wall, with Panfilio taking the male role and Schwader taking the female part.

“I watched the video a few times and storyboarded the shots,” Esposito said. “I presented them with screen captures of the actual video itself and then we brainstormed as to what would work.”

Later that night, Esposito took her iPad and tripod up the hill to the theater, and shot footage of the actors in full costume, with Ophelia wigging out and Hamlet spending some quality time with Yorick’s skull.

Esposito said editing all the footage together took less than an hour, and the film debuted at the “Words, Words, Words” poetry festival in Spring Green, where APT actors often do dramatic readings.

Fajardo said he’s delighted with the result, because it shows how, apart from the fancy costumes and flowery writing, the emotional struggles of Shakespeare’s characters are completely relatable to a modern audience.

“It’s joyful for me because I know yes, the stuff still works,” Fajardo said. “I want to say it’s relatable, even though not all of our uncles are sleeping with our moms.”

While the video was not an official American Players release, the theater seems tickled by it (“Isn’t that fun?” marketing associate Jess Amend said.)

But the video fits in with a tradition of offbeat and funny viral videos that the theater has made in recent years by Nick Langholff and Brent Notbohm. The series began in 2008 with a video of Jim DeVita doing “Richard III” alone on an empty snow-covered stage, until his daughter Sophia reminds him, “Dad, you have to wait till summer.”

That was followed up in 2010 with Jonathan Smoots carrying his longsword into a local café (“You’ll fool no more money out of me, egregious dog!” he tells the clerk).


The couple said it was gratifying to be part of an artistic community at American Players that encourages playfulness and collaboration, of celebrating the timeless and immediate nature of great works.

“We like to inspire each other, Esposito said of Fajardo. “We love filmmaking, we love making shorts. On a personal level, this was a fun thing for us to do, to marry both of these things that we both love, and share and create, and to have an afternoon with the top talent that you could possibly want to work with."

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. Alstone
    Report Abuse
    Alstone - September 09, 2013 1:00 pm
    Parody - an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.

    This is not a parody. It's lip syncing, filmed with cell-phone quality video, amended with five seconds of cheesy Shakespearean images at random intervals. A parody could have imitated the colorful body paints signature to the video, altered the lyrics so as to mimic Shakespearean language patterns, and maybe even matched the singer's voices to their genders? Are these seriously creative professionals?

    This is a parody. Forgive me if it's below the social stratosphere inhabited by the people that want this to be funny.
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