"..a bardy view!"

To Rap or not to Rap – that is the question…..

In an effort to bring Shakespeare to the masses, a Philippines drama group have spiced up the Bard with a rap musical. William (BBC News) is about a bunch of students who struggle to understand the words of England's (and the world's) most famous dramatist, but eventually discover the magic of his works.

This production by PETA (the Philippine Educational Theater Association) hopes to introduce him in a form which may be more in tune with young people, thereby raising greater awareness.

The characters in the musical learn that Shakespeare is not all that difficult to read, and through his plays find similarities in their own lives. Set in a Metro Manila school, "Students get to know Shakespeare as they discover themselves and how his characters and stories are parallel to their own life situations".

Like the producer says, there is unlikely to be a student anywhere who hasn't heard of Shakespeare, but that doesn't mean he is remotely understood by many and equally as feared.

As one of the actors remarked quoting Shylock's monologue from the Merchant of Venice: If you prick us do we not bleed, if you tickle us do we not laugh, if you poison us do we not die, and if you wrong us shall we not revenge? "That play surely appeals to all who are discriminated against" he says.

Being a bit of a bard myself (cough), I know that his plays do not require the contemporary settings they were originally designed for. They can be placed in any time, for it is the substance which matters – not the scenery.

The characters, the word-play, the politics, tragedy and humour are as relevant today as when first written over 400 years ago, and have stood the test of time as evident in our day to day usage of phrases extracted directly from his portfolios.

Yet in a world where language is becoming more and more fragmented, and where less means more, where text speak both audible and written is the norm of communication, today's youth are losing the inherent building blocks of language itself.

Purists of course will frown upon the thought of a hip-hopping Bard, but this is a musical about students studying him, and not a rap musical about one of his plays (although I'm sure such a phenomena is not as rare as it sounds).

PETA says "that for many educators, teaching Shakespeare is a curricular equivalent to serving ampalaya (bitter melon). Young Filipino's know that it is good for them, but refuse to take a bite."

I suspect the same is true for western students, except the ampalaya would be referred to as Castor Oil.

In 2012 PETA will herald in a fresh translation of King Lear (entitled Haring Lear).

"Students and non-students can now rediscover Shakespeare as he gets a fresh and modern re-cut. Enjoy timeless tales of love, betrayal, friendship and trust from the master storyteller of all time – Shakespeare!"

Go for it! But what would the Bard think?

I'm not sure if there was any reference to William Shakespeare being English in the video below, but these kids are enthusiastic, and more power to their elbow! I think old Will would be proud of these young Filipinos! It's a mix of English and Tagalog, and very entertaining -the exuberance and excitement of the players is palpable!




September 4, 2011 - Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Education, Events, Music, The Philippines | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Glad to see old Shakespeare is still making waves after all this time. I guess it comes from speaking the truth and telling tales which never go out of fashion especially in English, that splendid thing.


    Comment by Spook | September 5, 2011 | Reply

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