16 Years Before Hamilton, The Q Brothers Were Bringing Hip Hop to the Stage

News   16 Years Before Hamilton, The Q Brothers Were Bringing Hip Hop to the Stage
Othello: The Remix, an 80-minute hip hop spin on the Bard’s tragic tale, kicks off its New York premiere.
GQ and JQ Monica Simoes

Almost 20 years ago, when hip hop theatre artist GQ was still a student at the Tisch School of the Arts (NYU), he was eager to combine his love of theatre and rap into an original stage show. With a group of friends, including fellow student JQ, they decided to adapt William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors.

JQ and GQ Monica Simoes

“We ran out of time to write an original piece, and Shakespeare is free, public domain,“ explains GQ, who worked through the classic play line by line, translating the original text into contemporary rap and hip hop rhymes.

“A few pages into translating [The Comedy of Errors] into modern rhyme, we realized that it was supposed to happen. It just felt right, and that it was really similar to what he [Shakespeare] was doing,” adds JQ. The resulting show, The Bomb-itty of Errors, opened Off-Broadway in 1999 and ran six months.

Fast forward to 2016, and the duo, now know as The Q Brothers, is bringing their new Shakespeare-based piece, Othello: The Remix, to the New York stage following international presentations. The acclaimed production, which premiered at London’s Globe Theatre, is written, directed and composed by GQ and JQ. Performances kick off October 25 at the Westside Theatre, with an official opening night set for November 16.

Othello: The Remix, produced by John Leguizamo, is an 80-minute spin on the Bard’s tragic tale of love, jealousy, and revenge. The staging features the two creators, as well as Jackson Doran, Postell Pringle, and DJ Supernova.

Both GQ and JQ say that thanks to the success of Hamilton, audiences are considerably more open to seeing hip hop on the theatrical stage. “What it’s done, is shifted public perception to the point where theatre-going audiences now think that it’s accessible even though it’s been accessible the whole time,” says GQ.

Scroll through production photos below:

The production was originally commissioned by The Globe as part of the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012. Following its debut, it then toured Edinburgh, Germany, South Korea, and Chicago. Othello: The Remix is the Q Brothers’ third hip hop translation of the Bard’s work and marks their return to New York following the hit production of The Bomb-itty of Errors.

The Westside Theatre is located at 407 West 43rd Street, New York. Tickets are now on sale online via Telecharge.com, by phone at (212) 239-6200.

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