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Lenny Henry: 'Shakespeare is like hip-hop'

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Lenny Henry has compared the works of William Shakespeare to modern hip-hop.

The comedian will explore the bard's work in school productions in his upcoming ITV1 documentary Finding Shakespeare.

Celebrity Birthdays: Lenny Henry

© Rebellion Publishing / Jonathan Hordle/Rex Features

William Shakespeare

© Rex Features



Henry explained that he found Shakespeare "dull" when he studied him at school, and he hoped to improve today's schoolchildren's perception of the author.

He told Daybreak: "It's about my first antipathy towards Shakespeare, I hated Romeo and Juliet at school, it sounded dull when we read it out.

"I thought wouldn't it be great if we could encounter Shakespeare in a different way when we were young?"

Henry collaborates with MOBO-winning rapper Akala for the project to bring in elements of hip-hop to modernise Shakespeare plays.

"We get in a MOBO-winning DJ in to help the kids. Shakespeare is very similar to hip-hop, it's pretty funky when we do it."

He added: "It takes me all over the country talking about the way in which Shakespeare is important to the country. If you can pass things on to kids and they can get it then that's the best thing."

Lenny Henry received high acclaim for his performance in Othello in the West End in 2009.

He had previously said of the documentary: "People misunderstand both Shakespeare and hip-hop. And misunderstanding these human stories or these vehicles for human stories, they're missing out on, I suppose, self-expression.

"The moment it's kind of humanised, we find there's a certain confidence, like, 'If I can get Shakespeare, and I'm told he's the most unattainable guy in the world, then I can get anything'."

Perspectives: Lenny Henry - Finding Shakespeare airs on Sunday, April 1 at 10.15pm on ITV1.

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