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Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Thursday, 23 July 2009 12:21 UK
Shakespeare: To rap or not to rap?
By Natasha Evans
BBC Blast reporter, Bristol

Akala
Akala is a Mobo award-winning hip-hop artist

The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company (THSC) hits Bristol on 31 July 2009.

The lyric-writing and performance workshop is touring the UK, providing young people with an opportunity to be creative.

According to the THSC website, the company aims to "build young people's self-confidence and unlock their creative and artistic abilities".

Young people will be able to explore art, engage in performance and develop their own skills and confidence.

As an English Lit undergraduate who studies Shakespeare - the man and his work - I was intrigued to find out more about the workshops.

At first glance, the combination seems rather unexpected, but THSC aims to challenge any preconceptions about either the Bard or hip-hop.

The company aims to make the experience, either in performing or viewing, enjoyable and enlightening.

'Untruths and falsities'

The many untruths and falsities of Shakespeare and hip-hop will be challenged.

A First Folio edition of William Shakespeares' plays (1623)
'By no means is the Bard a soppy romantic'

By no means is the Bard a soppy romantic sprouting sonnets from balconies, nor hip-hop about guns and curvaceous women in gold bikinis.

The workshop, run by Mobo award-winning hip-hop artist Akala, will be exciting and educational in both hip-hop and the works of Shakespeare.

The cultural and social parallels of the modern music genre and the Renaissance art form often go unrecognised...

Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare's first tragedy, is plagued with sheer carnage - there surely isn't a crime which is not committed.

It can't have escaped anyone who reads the headlines that hip-hop has been associated with crime and violence.

Shakespeare is lauded as a propelling force of the English literary Renaissance.

Equally, Akala has been described as a leader of the "British artistic renaissance", and the artist adopted his Buddhist moniker pseudonym, meaning "Immovable", denoting both peace and stability.

THSC is not alone in the quest to give a modern twist to classic literature.

A University of Bristol English student, Max Gershfield, wrote and performed a rap based on the 1000 year-old poem Beowulf, earlier this year.

The poem is often said to be one of the most important texts in English literary history.

THSC will be at Bristol Harbour festival from 10am till 1pm at the BBC Blast area on Redcliffe Wharf. If you want to take part you need to apply in advance via the link below.

I'll be there and you can read what I thought about it on this website.


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