Tuesday, 24 February 2009

How We Will : Shakespeare & Hip Hop

Here at Blessed Love we are always eager to publicise attempts at elevating hip hop & grime culture as an art form and are delighted to tell you about US based theatre company 'How We Will' and their production of Shakespeare plays using the music, dance and art of Hip Hop culture . A daring and bold take on Shakespeare’s classic comedy, Twelfth Night. From an inspired idea of BRT’s (Bristol Riverside Theatre) Artistic Director Keith Baker comes this remarkable collaboration with Donald Byrd, acclaimed Broadway choreographer (The Color Purple) and Artistic Director of Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theatre. Bringing together the worlds of contemporary urban and classical theatre in a spectacular mix of music, dance, stirring acting and creativity, WHAT YOU WILL presents TWELFTH NIGHT as you’ve never seen it before.

We have to admit we never really 'got' Will (Shakespeare) and have found all the cod pieces, Elizabethan English language and the cultural elitism that is often associated with it a bit inpenatrable ; but applaud any attempts at updating it. In the UK young people are often put off Shakespeare because of this and up to now we only had Baz Luhrmann's 1996 Romeo + Juliet updating Shakespeare in a truly contemporary way. Can we suggest an attempt on Chaucer's Canterbury tales in a similar manner? Chaucer was writing before Shakespeare and the language is even more difficult to understand, but the content is fantastically earthy, rude, vulgar and funny and he really exposes the hypocrisy, greed and wickedness of English society that is very timely right now. I think Chaucer would have understood Hip Hop better than Shakespeare as he seemed to be more connected too the 'street' (Or at least 12th century street culture)

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