By: Shannon Boatwright
There is a new phenomenon taking place in which creative people are putting a Shakespearean twist on pop songs. It is awesome!! Even for those non-Shakespeare fans, it’s great fun. For those of us who are total lovers of Shakespeare and his vast works, this pop Shakespeare project is a fabulous treat! It all started with a trend called #15secondshakespeare in which actors videotape themselves reciting 15 seconds of lines from a popular song and performing it Shakespearean style. If you Google “15 seconds of Shakespeare” you’ll see a collection of different examples from famous actors.
One of the English teachers at my school shared the popular concept with me, with a note that said, “You have to do this with your students!” Well, she was right. What a fun project!
I personally thought 15 seconds was just not enough time to really pop it out Shakespeare style, so I changed the time limit to one minute or less. I decided to put my own twist on the fun and rename it #popshakespeare. I presented the concept to my honors students and gave them the opportunity to submit their videos. Because I only have 9 weeks of regular Drama classes and can only squeeze in a limited amount of lessons with my 7th and 8th graders, I actually had those students do the Pop Shakespeare experiment live in front of the class. Talk about interesting and fun – it was definitely entertaining! It was a great opportunity to sneak in a quick lesson on Shakespeare, and to introduce them to one of the greatest writers of all time and how cool his works can be! For now, I have my honors drama stars submitting their “popped out” Shakespeare pieces via video since I do not get my honors classes until the 2nd semester. I’m still getting video submissions and love seeing my students have so much fun with this project!
I’m sharing two of my fabulous 7th grade honors drama students’ #popshakespeare videos here. Keely and Tripp are both such talented young actors and I absolutely cannot wait to work with them next semester! Check out their videos and a couple of mine here, so you can get a taste of what this awesome l’il performance project is all about. 🙂
Tripp’s “Eye of the Tiger”
Mrs. Shannon’s “Ice Ice Baby”
Mrs. Shannon’s “Wrecking Ball”
For more videos, head over to the complete #popshakespeare YouTube Playlist.
If you’re so inspired and inclined, this #popshakespeare project makes for a really fun family activity! My daughter absolutely loved it. She kept saying, “Mama, you gotta do this song!”, requesting song after song that would be cool to “Shakespeare out.” Each popular song I “Shakespeared” was either her idea or my son’s. My girl did some of her own videos and she and I actually did some together. We even got my son and husband in on the fun! Several of my fellow teachers did their own videos too. A lot of fun is to be had when it comes to getting creative together! Smiles all around as you engage in performing a part of a popular song Shakespearean style! Who would’ve thought?!! 🙂
So if you happen to create your own #popshakespeare masterpiece, please do share it with me! Leave a comment below and let’s share. I’m thinking about creating a YouTube channel dedicated to #popshakespeare so we can all share our Shakespeare pop coolness.
“All the world’s a stage…”
– William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”