The Illyria Project, written and directed by Jackson Doran and Postal Pringle, is an entirely hip-hop spoken word reimagining of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The story follows Viola, an aspiring rapper who lands a role in rap musical by pretending she's a man. Conflict rises when the leading lady falls for Viola, who is crushing on the producer, who is obsessed with the leading lady, in this comedic love triangle.
Hip hop theater is popular right now, with Lin-Manuel Miranda spitting out Tony award winning musicals with In The Heights and Hamilton. Pringle and Doran have been rapping since before Miranda was a household name, but they certainly owe him for the recent rise in repute.
Collaborators Doran and Pringle are no strangers to Shakespeare, however. Both co-wrote and co-directed I <3 Juliet at Connecticut College in 2012 and performed in Othello: The Remix; Pringle also wrote Welcome 2 Illyria as an artist-in-residence at Bates College, and Doran has an upcoming commission at the University of Iowa to reboot Julius Caeser.
The Illyria Project is part of a series produced by Theater Latte' Da, a new work festival that showcases innovative theater while it is still being workshopped. Audiences should expect a staged reading; actors will stand at music stands to read their lines, and scene changes are suggested using a change in lighting. There will be no costumes or set pieces: a DJ sits on stage to spin the music live. This is a rough workshop, and very early on in the process, but Doran and Pringle are energetic and smart in their writing.
Hip hop has been its own culture for a long time, but thanks to Broadway and Lin-Manuel Miranda, both hip hop and multi-cultural casts are beginning to be commonplace. The Illyria Project could be an exciting addition to this culture, adding an appreciation for Shakespeare to new audiences.
Book, Music and Lyrics by Jackson Doran and Postell Pringle
Directed by Jackson Doran and Postell Pringle
Featuring the talents of Shinah Brashears, Ryan Colbert, Jonathon Dull, Aeysha Kinnunen, Kasono Mwanza, Thomasina Petrus, and Max Wojtanowicz.
PERFORMANCE DATES: THURSDAY, MAY 19, SATURDAY MAY 21, AND MONDAY MAY 23, 2016
VENUE: CAPRI THEATER | 2027 W BROADWAY AVE, MINNEAPOLIS, MN