Ladies and gentlemen, I give you MC Willie S

All you Shakespeare purists please avert your eyes as we’re about to talk about The Bomb-itty of Errors, a rap version of the Bard’s The Comedy of Errors opening at Vancouver’s Studio 16 next week.

Billed as an “ad-rap-tation” of Shakespeare’s story of mistaken identity, The Bomb-itty of Errors not only features four actors playing the multiple roles in the story but also includes original music by Vancouver hip hop artist Anami Vice and DJ Oker Chen mixing it live on stage.

Among the cast is Niko Koupantsis (top left in the photo) who, along with fellow cast mate Brian Cochrane,  appeared in the original Canadian premiere seven years ago at Saskatoon’s Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival.  For Koupantsis learning Shakespeare is very similar to the challenges of learning to rap.

“In both cases it’s like learning a new language,” explained Koupantsis. “The most important thing to learn is the rhythms of speaking that are so intrinsic to each new form of communication, as well as learning how to express ideas with clarity and emotion while sticking to those rhythms.”

Niko Koupantsis, Jameson Parker, David Kaye and Brian Cochrane in The Bomb-itty of Errors
Niko Koupantsis, Jameson Parker, David Kaye and Brian Cochrane in The Bomb-itty of Errors.

Following Shakespeare’s original storyline and incorporating much of his original text, Koupantsis does admit the writer’s took some liberties adding their own creative flair and transcribing the language and settings into the world of present day hip-hop.

“If you are familiar with The Comedy of Errors, you will recognize the scene structure and enjoy the parody of it all. If you aren’t familiar with it, that’s okay too … the show is a spectacle unto itself.”

Besides, asserts Koupantsis, this adaptation may ultimately make Shakespeare more accessible.

“Shakespeare can be intimidating, but this retelling makes it current without dumbing it down. The story is clear and the language is updated. This show breaks the popular misconception that Shakespeare is just for the lofty members of society. The truth is that when Shakespeare’s plays were first performed, the cheap seats in the pit were just as full as the balconies. His words were meant for all, and this play definitely revives that accessibility.”

And as for those Shakespeare purists that we told to avert their eyes at the top of this interview?  Koupantsis insists that there is no disrespect intended with the show.

“This play serves as a tribute to Shakespeare, and you can sense the respect the creators of this show have for his work,” he explained.  “It’s a very clever adaptation that incorporates the devices and structures Shakespeare used in his original work.  He was one of the first masters of rhyme after all, which effectively makes him one of the world’s first rappers.”

Ladies and gentlemen, MC Willie S is in da’ house!

The Bomb-itty of Errors
Studio 16
3 – 22 April 2012

A fast-paced, energetic, musical “ad-rap-tation” of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. Elizabethan times get pumped up with live hip-hop flavour, as the actors sing, rap and rhyme fun, catchy and laugh-out-loud songs that retain much of the Bard’s original text all with a live DJ on stage and original music by Anami Vice.  Visit http://www.bombittyoferrors.com for tickets and information.

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