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Drama & Speech        < Previous        Next >


Shakespeare to a Hip-Hop Beat


Today's Snack: Cut a bunch of broccoli into spears, and shake them. Hardy har har - that's a play on words from the world's master at plays on words, William Shakespeare! After you shake your spears, dip them in ranch dip and swig down some white grape juice. Shakespeare might've called it "ale" . . . and so can you!




Print out the hip-hop lyrics, below


Then turn up the volume and go to this sample,

and practice reading it aloud with the hiphop artist:



We adults do some extraordinary things to engage children in the literature of William Shakespeare. Since he's considered the very best communicator in world history, or at least someone who was astoundingly gifted with language, it's important to teach the next generation about him and his stories.


But . . . the old-fashioned English in his scripts and poetry often is just not "accessible" to today's youngsters, whose vocabularies are often constrained to the 1,000 words most often used on TV.


So . . . educators have improvised! A company called Flocabulary sets Shakespeare verses to hip-hop beats.


They advertise: "After a 400 year hiatus, Shakespeare is back on the mic, fresher than ever" (Flocabulary, 2008).


You can bring in a book or two about Shakespeare to go over the basics about this great writer.


This sample is from one of his most famous plays, Midsummer Night's Dream. If you can check out a copy of the real Midsummer Night's Dream for this activity, and look at the original language as you work with the hip-hop version, it would be even more interesting.





Hip-hop version of a scene from the play: Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, scene i

Concept: A modern interpretation of the moment when Puck is recognized by a fairy and gets a chance to brag about his exploits.

Lyrics: Shakespeare (Verse 1), Escher (Verse 2)

Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he?

Thou speak'st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her wither'd dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And 'tailor' cries, and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.

Now everybody in the place to be,
If you're down with the P U C,
Everybody say "Puck!"
Put your hands up, say "Puck!"

Now everybody in the place today,
If you're down with the P U C to the K,
Say "Puck!" Put your hands up,
Say "Puck," Say "Puck!" Like that!

Maybe I'm seeing things, am I really breathing?
Could it be that little joker
Raise the roof above the ceiling?
I'm reeling, you take on many forms like millions,
Call you Robin Goodfellow, more like Robin Williams.
You transform fast like Optimus Prime,
Right now you're Ugly Betty, next minute you're fine.
You're that one dude who unscrewed the salt shaker tops,
Made a player pour a lot of salt on his tater tots.
That lady down in Texas with the Rolex
And the necklaces, sitting in her Lexus,
She was trying to go all fast and express,
But she can't 'cause you messed with her GPS.
Your favorite tools are whoopee cushions,
Pie in the face, banana peel,
Mouse Trap now I'm dying to play.
You make people embarrassed,
Now they're crying with rage.
You uncaged my parrot, and now he's flying away,
Is that you?

That's me, the P U C to the K,
I'll teach you that life is just a game we play.
I'll steal your TV, sell it back on eBay,
I'm too fast. Catch me? You better press replay.
I'm the mischief maker, the summertime shaker,
I take your top, then drop the top real later.
I mess with humans, because I hate your rules.
Only days I like are Halloween and April fools.
Think you're cool?
I'll switch your Bud Light with O'Doul's,
When you sit down, I pull out your stool!
Fell on your backend, asking "yo, what happened?"
I got the tavern laughing, you'll be grabbing an aspirin.
I'll take you on a magic carpet ride like Aladdin or Jasmine.
Stop fronting son, you're just a has-been.
Could never imagine the places I've been.
I draw things on the TV screen like John Madden...

Now everybody in the place to be,
If you're down with the P U C,
Everybody say "Puck!"
Put your hands up, say "Puck!"

Now everybody in the place today,
If you're down with the P U C to the K,
Say "Puck!" Put your hands up,
Say "Puck," Say "Puck!" Like that!


By Susan Darst Williams Drama & Speech 05 2008

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