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The Modernization of Shakespeare: Should Shakespeare Be Taught in High School

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Although Shakespeare’s lifetime occurred over four hundred years ago, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential and talented playwrights and poets of all time. Because of his powerful characters, lessons taught, plots, and social criticisms, his works have continued to play a prominent role for groups of all ages, pasts, beliefs, and social groups. The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company is a modern social engagement with Shakespeare that incorporates his works into today’s society by drawing social, cultural, and linguistic similarities with those of contemporary hip-hop artists.

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Exploring this company and its relation to Shakespeare interested me because I enjoy listening to hip-hop and rap music, and if you listen closely to songs of this genre, you can learn from these hidden meanings. If you examine Shakespeare’s poetry and literature, you can also learn from hidden meanings and see how society is still struggling with the same problems that were present back during his time. The fact that the company’s work proves popular with audiences of any age and any location (they’ve toured in the UK, Europe, South East Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India) reveals that what they and Shakespeare have created still powerfully affects all types of people to this day. THSC produces interactive live music events and partners with established artists, leading arts organizations, theatres, media outlets and music promoters to expand appreciation for both Shakespeare and the art of hip-hop music. Lastly, they put on workshops that help young people develop skills in the performing arts and understanding of literature by emphasizing the relation between Shakespeare’s poetry, rhyming, beats, and music. 

Because today’s society and pop culture is increasingly becoming attracted to music and unique ways to express passion, THSC is the perfect establishment to encourage that progressiveness. It helps young people not only pursue their musical desires, but to also focus on the past and teach a younger generation about a historical leader in literature and why they should care about Shakespeare. As technology and the use of video games increase, the younger generation is not reading as much and so this is a creative way to appeal to that age group and teach them about Shakespeare and why he still plays such a central role in today’s literature. Shakespeare is seemingly brought to life with hip-hop because students feel better connected to that culture and can bring people from different experiences and all walks of life together. Because Shakespeare’s work is iambic pentameter both rhymed and unrhymed, rap already has an advantage when relating to a certain rhythm and beat. It’s also accessible online to anyone with internet, instead of having to buy or borrow a work of Shakespeare.

When considering some ideas about who Shakespeare is and what makes him so unique, I’ve learned so much from both his personal plays from over four hundred years ago but also from modern arrangements and programs. Countless of the societal issues and human struggles that dominated society back during Shakespeare’s time are closely related if not identical to those of today’s obstacles. These include, but are not limited to the corruption of ambition, politics, religious conflicts, gender inequalities, economic disparities, and depression. THSC reveals that as long as you are interested and pursue this certain form of Shakespeare, any age, social, or economic group around the world can access it and not only learn from it, but enjoy it as well. His social capital was reached when he wrote likely the greatest love story ever. He opened the conversation for more sexual and racial equality, his work was so diverse varying from romanticism, to tragedy, to comedy. Also, because literature and education was so important back then and still is today, the most powerful people who had the most influence in society tended to be literate and well-read when it came to Shakespeare. So, his work was always sought after in schools and theatres and is seen as popular because the people dominating the civilization at the time said it was. Therefore, Shakespeare and literature are social goods because they provide the benefit of education and entertainment to the general public. THSC also provides a public good in the form of music. It benefits society in a more fitting and relevant way by teaching people why Shakespeare’s important to us and how he fits into our past, present and future.

THSC provides a new way to interact with Shakespeare that is a refreshment to the students who find it difficult reading his plays in the classroom. The creativity that this program has engaged in plays a crucial role is sustaining pieces of work that have dominated cultures, schools, and performances for so long. By delivering educational music to schools, theatres, arts organizations and brands, the cultural, social and linguistic parallels between hip-hop and Shakespeare are not only identified and accepted, but embraced. 

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