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Thursday, August 18, 2011

PETA Battles Shakes-fear with Rap and Hip-hop

Young peeps with caps and blings are found rolling rap rhythms, chanting complicated metaphors while bouncing high-energy hip-hop numbers. Sounds like a Gloc 9 concert or the latest FlipTop Battle in Manila, ain’t it? But it ain’t one. It’s Philippine Educational Theater Association’s (PETA) new Shakespeare rap musical, “William”.

After the success of “Care Divas”, PETA ventures into another ambitious feat. The company, known for its distinctly Filipino theater, focuses on William Shakespeare whose literary works, no matter how great they may be - has horrified many a Filipino student to tears.

Directed by PETA Artistic Director, Maribel Legarda, “William” familiarizes young people with the beauty of Shakespeare’s works and re-invents the Bard using rap rhythm and hip-hop beats.

Shakespeare and rap alchemy

Some may say, “Shakespeare and rap ain’t mixin”. Sure. Shakespeare may not sound as the hippest poet that ever lived, but the Bard is arguably the world’s original rapper.

Shakespeare’s works, just like our rap hits today, are based on beats, rhythm and rhyme. He also first addressed the themes of desire, greed, betrayal, power, violence and love, ages before Eminem did. Besides, Shakespeare just like modern rappers today wrote for ordinary people - his peeps, and his signature iambic pentameter was the best street rhyming of his time.

“I brought in rap and hip-hop as the contemporary voice and language of young people today. I hope that Shakespeare’s poetry and today’s rap (ang bagong balagtasan) find a point of conversation and evolve into engaging dialogue and drama,” Legarda shares.

The cast of “William” trained rap under a true Tondo rapper, Shielbert Manuel, a.k.a "O.G. Sacred" who has appeared in the indie filmTribu (Best Film, Cinemalaya 2007, Pari De L' Avenir, Festival de Paris 2008) by Jim Libiran.

“William” features ten original rap songs composed by Jeff Hernandez. Songs such as “Pucha Bro”, “Nosebleed”, “O Shakespeare”, “What’s In A Name” are fusions of various music genres, like rock, soul, funk, RnB and hip-hop. “William” also utilizes an emerging form of rap, FlipTop, which is becoming more popular among today’s youth. These rap numbers, choreographed by John Tan, (from Urban Dance Crew) are performed along with various hip-hop forms, such as: crumping, breakdance, ballroom and jazz hip-hop.

Reminiscent of today’s popular TV musicals such as Glee and High School Musical, “William” is set in a high school in Metro Manila, where five young students are forced to study Shakespeare by their terror class adviser, Ms. Lutgarda Martinez.

In the process of studying, they not only realize the beauty of Shakespeare’s works but also discover themselves through Shakespeare’s characters. The class muse, Sophia, finds out what true beauty is through "Romeo and Juliet"; the bully, TJ, encounters humility and grace through "Hamlet"; the brainy OFW's daughter, Estela, learns forgiveness while the student council leader, Richard, learns self-acceptance through "Merchant of Venice"; and a timid lad, Erwin, finds his voice through "Julius Caesar".

This high school barkada soon realize that Shakespeare is not just a literary icon meant to torment their lives, but is also a brotha andpeer.

Be fear-less! Shake off your Shakes-fear. The Bard may be old and his English might make your nose bleed, but the Bard sure knows how to break-it-down.

“William” play dates are August 19-21, 26-28, September 2-4, 9-11, 16-18, 23-25, 2011 with shows at 10:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. The PETA Theater Center is located at No. 5 Eymard Drive, New Manila, Quezon City.

“William” is supported by,,, Business World,,, 2ndAvenue and JackTV. Tickets are Php350 (regular) and Php500 (vip). For inquiries and ticket reservations, contact PETA Marketing & PR Office at 725-6244 or 410-0821, 0917-5765400,

Schedules may change without prior notice.

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