Hip-Hop and Othello

Posted: May 10, 2012 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives

We all know that one of the greatest things about Shakespeare is that his plays can be set anywhere, anytime, with any cast of characters. A few months ago, I wrote about an all-female ensemble performing As You Like It. Today, I’m going to share the story of a hip-hop version of Othello.

I know what you’re thinking, how cliché. The only Shakespearean show that features a lead black character, and they’re making it into a ‘street’ version of the show. However, there’s more to it than that. This adaptation has been retitled Othello: The Remix, and was crafted the Q Brothers, a set of two brothers who also make up half the show’s cast (the other two members are Jackson Doran and Postell Pringle). The show takes Shakespeare’s well-known words and sets them against a backdrop of original beats.

The show originally premiered at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, but is now making its way across the pond. It will be the theater’s entry in the Shakespeare im Globe Neuss Festival in Germany in early July, and this past weekend, was one of 37 shows (and the only one from the United States!) to compete in the Globe to Globe festival in London for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. It will also make an appearance a bit further north, in Edinburgh, at the Festival Fringe throughout August.

The show played in London on May 5 and 6, and executive producer Criss Henderson said to the Chicago Tribune that the show was “widely well received”, complete with multiple curtain calls. Although, I’m not sure how original it is – I distinctly remember an Othello rap in my sophomore high school play: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Abridged.

-Diana Pearl

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