Birmingham & Black Country

London 2012: Hip-hop Othello for Shakespeare festival

Two US hip-hop artists have visited a school in Birmingham to perform a rap version of one of Shakespeare's tragedies.

Othello: The Remix was brought to pupils at Holyhead School in Handsworth by the Q Brothers, from Chicago.

The alternative take on Othello was commissioned by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The visit was ahead of a performance at the Globe Theatre in London, part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad festival.

Globe to Globe is part of the World Shakespeare Festival for the London 2012 Festival and brings together artists from all over the world to perform 37 plays in 37 languages - including hip-hop.

'Rap is poetry'

The Q Brothers, called GQ and JQ, hope to make the work of the Bard more accessible to teenagers and those who may not otherwise be familiar with the plays.

The artists said: "We're really interested in getting people into Shakespeare through the use of rap and hip-hop culture, but we're also really excited to introduce rap and hip-hop culture into a world that might not respect it, understand it or have grown up with it."

As well as watching the Q Brothers, the pupils were also asked to come up with their own reasons to rap and then write and perform something.

Scenarios included being in class, stereotypes of teenagers and mobile phones.

Martin Bayliss, principal at Holyhead School, said: "You'll see young people who think, 'I'm not really interested in poetry, but I really love rap', and they don't put the two things together.

"But of course rap is poetry and Shakespeare was a rapper of his time."

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