Since Shakespeare’s time, a variety of actors have performed his plays, but dogs were usually relegated to the minor roles. Now, thanks to a new production, they finally play more than bit parts.
Professional human actors provide the voices for canines playing the starring roles in scenes from Shakespeare’s greatest works, and the result is an entertaining DVD. Shakespaws is beautifully done from the camera work and lighting to the costumes and sets. Both human and canine actors capture the emotions of pivotal scenes from Shakespeare’s greatest works. Othello and Desdemona were particularly well cast in my opinion, making their scene truly great, and brave director Seamus Mulcahy used what looks like an entire litter of Golden Retriever puppies for Sonnet 18, giving that scene incredible appeal.
The original idea for Shakespaws grew out of Mulcahy’s experience as a dog sitter in New York City. So many of the people requested that he leave the television on when he left that he decided to create something that dogs and people alike could enjoy.
Besides being a fun treat for dog lovers, this DVD would be great in an educational setting. Any teacher who shows a clip from the DVD to introduce students to famous passages by Shakespeare is bound to get more interest than in any other way. My six-year old son watched it with me, and I’m thrilled with how immensely he enjoyed his first exposure to the works of Shakespeare.
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.