A Movie for Today’s Tempest
Yesterday, I got invited to a preview of a movie called Seven Sides of Shakespeare. I saw this originally as a play last year. The performer of the play, a local writer, actor, and former schoolteacher named Shamrock McShane, created a seven-part one-man play using examples of his performances in Shakespearean plays over the years.
Local creator Tom Miller, a very talented artist writer musician etc. decided to make a movie of Shamrock’s play. Tom incorporated music and graphics into the play, everything from old-timey cinema scenes to the magic of ecology. He’s created a movie in seven separate parts that documented the art that Shakespeare always saw. Only this time, the art was in the life of Shamrock McShane.
Tom Miller and his studio –
The resulting movie is incredible. The use of music, special effects (Shamrock talking through the animated statue of Julius Caesar, pulling away in shock as he realizes he’s been co-opted by clay), the owl accompanying Scene IV, the old-timey Shakespearean movie scenes that just act to cement the permanence of Shakespeares words – well, I could go on and on but hopefully you’ll be able to see the movie someday soon. The entire thing was shot on an iPad in various places around Gainesville and North Florida. You see Shamrock walking through incredible green woodlands, praising the virtues of Shakespeare’s words, while extolling the manner in which those plays intersected with his own life.
The movie is a tribute to local theater, too, as it has evolved over the years in Gainesville and probably in other places too. You know, those small venues where this person collided with that person. And that one got another part and this one quit in anger and that one moved elsewhere and – well you get the idea. The resulting art might actually be all the better because of the chaos involved in its creation.
But more than that, Tom and Shamrock illustrated the beauty of ecology and the starkness of our current pandemic moment. For instance, after scenes of ecological beauty, we see Shamrock walking across the Bo Diddley Plaza in the middle of town, a place which is normally used for concerts and yoga instructions and sales of the creations of local artists. Now, the plaza is empty, with signs saying, “Wear a mask, socially distance,” but there is no one there to obey these signs. Only a Shakespearean scholar walking through an empty plaza.
And Shamrock transforms throughout the movie as well. The beard grows longer and shaggier, the clothes become less restrictive, the pandemic and the final stages of life take their toll. He is a child (played by his own adorable son) walking and playing with a stick, and then he is an old man, leaning on that stick, traveling the same pathways, but slower.
Shamrock on Shore
And yet, as we get to the end of the movie, the end of the seven ages of man per Shakespeare, when all should be depressing and sad, the screen becomes a homage to beauty, to grace, to the continuance of life. There is a beautiful, amazing scene in Cedar Key on Florida’s West Coast, where thousands of ocean birds fly up and away from a small island, while Shamrock stands on the shore, a small and small and smaller being, standing his ground as the camera glides away. As the tide rolls in.
According to Tom Miller, that shot with the birds was just a magic moment where they happened to be in the right place at the right time. How do you get that lucky? And I thought Shamrock was lucky to have been able to continue with his artistic loves while he actually made a living.
But then I remember. It wasn’t luck. It was hard work. It was the importance of continuing with your art regardless of the problems that occur around you. It was the necessity of creating even when creating is so difficult it seems impossible. Thank you, shamrock and Tom, for inspiring me. I hope this movie is picked up and becomes an indie sensation. It well deserves it.
Check out these amazing previews of the upcoming movie:
The Seven Sides of Shakespeare – Tempest Preview
The Seven Sides of Shakespeare – Teaser II
Producers and Directors and Star[s]