Shakespeare- Module 8- Shakespeare in the Modern World- 6 of 6

Hello Year 7 and 8! This module we have been looking at how Shakespeare has influenced the modern world. We know that Shakespeare was most famous for writing plays but don’t forget he wrote poetry too. Today we will look at how Shakespeare has influenced modern poetry and even music.

Kate Tempest

WHAT: exploring how Shakespeare has had an influence on modern poetry and music.

By the end of this session you will be able to:


✓ evaluate how Shakespeare has influenced poetry and music in our modern world
✔ consider ideas for a modern adaptation of a Shakespeare play

Today you will need:

✎ A pen
☰ A word document, notepad or paper to record your ideas

STARTER- YOU DO: Watch the video below. It is a performance by a spoken word poet called Kate Tempest. As you watch, think about what point she is making about Shakespeare.

Kate Tempest is a playwright, poet, novelist and spoken word artist. She began performing when she left school at the age of 16.

Spoken word poetry is poetry that is intended for performance. Though some spoken word poetry may also be published on the page, the genre has its roots in oral traditions and performance. Spoken word can encompass or contain elements of rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theater, and jazz, rock, blues, and folk music. 

YOU DO: Read the lyrics/ words of the poem ‘My Shakespeare’. Then answer the questions that follow to show your understanding.

My Shakespeare by Kate Tempest

He’s in every lover who ever stood alone beneath a window,
In every jealous whispered word,
in every ghost that will not rest.
He’s in every father with a favourite,
Every eye that stops to linger
On what someone else has got, and feels the tightening in their chest.

He’s in every young man growing boastful,
Every worn out elder, drunk all day;
muttering false prophecies and squandering their lot.
He’s there – in every mix-up that spirals far out of control – and never seems to end, even when its beginnings are forgot.

He’s in every girl who ever used her wits. Who ever did her best.
In every vain admirer,
Every passionate, ambitious social climber,
And in every misheard word that ever led to tempers fraying,
Every pawn that moves exactly as the player wants it to,
And still remains convinced that it’s not playing.

He’s in every star crossed lover, in every thought that ever set your teeth on edge, in every breathless hero, stepping closer to the ledge, his is the method in our madness, as pure as the driven snow – his is the hair standing on end, he saw that all that glittered was not gold. He knew we hadn’t slept a wink, and that our hearts were upon our sleeves, and that the beast with two backs had us all upon our knees as we fought fire with fire, he knew that too much of a good thing, can leave you up in arms, the pen is mightier than the sword, still his words seem to sing our names as they strike, and his is the milk of human kindness, warm enough to break the ice – his, the green eyed monster, in a pickle, still, discretion is the better part of valour, his letters with their arms around each other’s shoulders, swagger towards the ends of their sentences, pleased with what they’ve done, his words are the setting for our stories – he has become a poet who poetics have embedded themselves deep within the fabric of our language, he’s in our mouths, his words have tangled round our own and given rise to expressions so effective in expressing how we feel, we cant imagine how we’d feel without them.

See – he’s less the tights and garters – more the sons demanding answers from the absence of their fathers.
The hot darkness of your last embrace.
He’s in the laughter of the night before, the tightened jaw of the morning after,
He’s in us. Part and parcel of our Royals and our rascals.
He’s more than something taught in classrooms, in language that’s hard to understand,
he’s more than a feeling of inadequacy when we sit for our exams,
He’s in every wise woman, every pitiful villain,
Every great king, every sore loser, every fake tear,
His legacy exists in the life that lives in everything he’s written,
And me, I see him everywhere, he’s my Shakespeare.

1. Which character is Kate Tempest referring to when she says ‘He’s in every lover who ever stood alone beneath a window’?

Romeo from ‘Romeo and Juliet’

2. Which Shakespeare play contains a ‘ghost that will not rest’?

Hamlet (In fact, lots of plays have ghosts in them- can you think of any more?)

3. What do you think Kate Tempest means when she says ‘He’s more than something taught in classrooms, in language that’s hard to understand’.

There are lots of ways you could interpret this quotation. One explanation might be that although Shakespeare’s language seems old-fashioned and not relevant to our modern world, the ideas in his writing are still really important to us.

The iambic pentameter Shakespeare uses can be clearly linked to styles of modern poetry and music, including rap. Watch the video below to find out more.

So, it’s clear that Shakespeare has had a phenomenal impact on writers and artists today.

Here is another video, produced by The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company. Founded in 2009 by BAFTA and MOBO award-winning UK hip hop artist Akala, The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company (‘THSC’) is a music theatre production company who try to explore the links between the work of William Shakespeare and that of modern day hip-hop artists. The track below began when Akala was challenged live on air on BBC 1Xtras Twin B show to come up with an impromptu freestyle rap making use of 27 Shakespeare play titles. He met the challenge and then turned the rap into a full track.

Feeling creative?

If the answer is yes, write your own poem or rap dedicated to Shakespeare.

Challenge Task- This is the final session of Module 8 and so the final session to finish this task:

Choose one of the following plays: The Tempest/ A Midsummer Night’s Dream/ Hamlet. Plan ideas for a modern adaptation of the play.

How would you adapt the play to appeal to a modern audience?

Where would the story take place? How would you change the characters?

What time period would you set the play in?

You could present your work as a powerpoint, a poster or a mind map. Send your work to your English teacher!

Well done! This is the final session in Module 8.