Shakespeare goes HipHop

Schiedam, 10-09-1999. The opening night of Rapido: a HipHop play produced by Culture Coalition and Grünfeld Theatre Productions. Based on Shakespeare’s story about the King Lear’s myth. Culture Coalition, the producers, is what I would say a white-collars professional hustler foundation living on the subsidy they get from the government. And a couple of years they got on the HipHop multicultural bandwagon cause that’s where the do is. Trying to bring HipHop on the theatre stages. In this production they picked some good HipHop artists to play a great story. It is a good play and it brings heads indeed to the theaters and I recommend you to go too.

But their culture still clashes with the HipHop culture. Helmert Woudenberg directed the whole play according to his principles and methods. The best example is how they did Baby Y’s make-up: ugly as hell. ‘Why was that?’, I asked. It was because she has to portrait a rebellious image. That is the difference between a ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ and a ‘Rebel Without A Pause’. Because she is the rebel does not mean that she has to be ugly. Or like the directors assistant giving ‘Just 4 Fun’ instructions how to dance while she does not know jack about that breaking. With their promotional flyers they showed lack of understanding, imaging a HipHop label with compact discs. Powered with the slogan ‘Shakespeare Goes HipHop’. HipHop is not something you can do in a hot minute, it sounds disrespecting, because it is.

Thomas Elberts better known as DJ Kipski composed the music and plays DJ Asteroid. He did a good job but one thing the brother must get to understand, his technical skills are there but it’s also about hearing what sounds dope and what sounds not. His backspin set in the play did sound terrible. Please pick some other breaks, my man.

We knew already that Shakespeare was a wicked dude, this play is based on his story about the Celtic mythical King Lear. Felix de Rooy put it in a HipHop slang, with the help of the heads, I guess. To run it down: King Lear was a king who stands down from his throne, cause he is kinda wasted and tired with alcohol and drugs abuse, and gives his kingdom to his two daughters, Goneril and Regan, who are willing to play the game to get in power. The third daughter, Cordelia, ain’t down with it and is also in love with the son of the king’s archenemy. So she gets banned and disinherited. Some stories go that Cordelia did inherit the kingdom after all and she reigned for five years before she was captured by the sons of her sisters. King Lear got in power with terror and all that gangsta shit, live by the sword, die by the sword. "When the chickens come home to roots".

After the heritage the two daughters are fighting for the power to be in control, with the same gluttony, greed and tricks their daddy did. In this play the kingdom is imaged as a record company ‘Rapido’ and the fight is between Lady X (Jolanda Spoel) and Princess (Farida van der Stoom). These girls did finish their acting schools and are doing fine. Shockwave and I saw them and did not have to think twice: "We want to be actors too!!" Cause these women were looking fine with a capital F! Back to the story, X married Gangsta Rap producer Masta Gangsta (Majid Ghadiri) to gain more control in the company. Princess does the same trick with R&B producer Platinum Power (Clyde Lowell, Spookrijders).

Masta Gangsta is a street cat. Platinum Power is not from the streets, he’s against Gangsta Rap and is very successful with his R&B. The third daughter Baby Y (Eline La Croix, Just 4 Fun) goes her own way and sticks with her man Tornado (Sylvain Veldkamp, Just 4 Fun).

Mister B (Sherlock Telgt, Zombi Squad) is King Ra’s lawyer, the legal protection against the law. He got two sons Eddy B (Martijn Drieman, Roodbaard) and Eddy A (Thijmes Woudenberg). Eddy B is treated like a bastard son and out to hustle him an ambitious living to cover his needs, does not worry about pleasing both Lady X and Princess (what we can’t blame him). Eddy A is the eye apple of Mister B, although he is kinda hooked on the white lines. Got a little sympathy for the devil. Ra’s bodyguards are played by East-West Connexion. Just before the end DJ Asteroid takes the drums and together with East-West Connexion they perform ‘Who Knows?’ from Jimi Hendrix. And they do it master.

Ruben La Cruz alias MC Pester is the master of the show with his role as King Ra (King Lear). Keeps me wondering why Ra and not Lear? Ra is the sun god of the Egyptians, the one who gave birth to the other gods. Better stick to the name Lear and do not disrespect Ra. In the end, Ra becomes a tramp and Mister B blind. Living in the gutter they both see the light. King recognizing that his youngest daughter is the only one whom really loved him. And Mister B sees the truth about his two sons.

Getting blown away as a result of that 10% syndrome, greed, lust and envy Baby Y dies in her fathers hands. According to the program book: "And still a positive end: the truth is discovered and the dignity of the good rehabilitated. So a happy end after all". Yeah right, happy to whom? Getting yourself or your loved ones blown away ain’t no happy thing. There are eight million stories in the naked city, basically none of them end happy neither does this Shakespeare’s story. So why is it that this one ends happy?


© 1999 ART12/VanderHoek Publishing. All rights reserved.