AGROUP of young Shakespeare enthusiasts are bringing a modern feel to two classic plays at Birmingham's Botanical Gardens. Known as the boy and girl band of Shakespeare on account of its youthful appeal, Base Tikes theatre company adapts the classic tales and makes them appeal to a young, modern audience.
They don't shy away from introducing a cheeky musical number or two into the plays.
Sometimes the plays open and close with a song.
In the company's first production, the Bond theme Live and Let Die was reborn as Live Hamlet Die.
But don't be alarmed! This is not 'Shakespeare: The Musical'. Instead this theatre group is hoping to make the Bard's plays go with a bang... and just a little music.
Determined to change the image of a Shakespearean play being boring and irrelevant to today's society, this summer Base Tikes are tackling Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, two tales of love, power and bloody revenge.
Director and company founder Gary Durrant, described as the Simon Cowell of Shakespeare, believes that the plays are extremely current and says: "The same stories are found in modern TV and films.
"By adapting the plays for a young 21st century audience, the message of the text becomes relevant and real."
Base Tikes was an idea born in the back room of a pub in Kings Heath on Valentine's Day 2012, when Gary and a group of friends started reading some sonnets and a few love scenes from Romeo and Juliet.
He then decided to create a group to perform Shakespeare in a way which appealed to young people.
The young Birmingham actors involved come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some have studied English and drama at university level, others have no formal qualifications.
Gary sees music as a way of breaking the ice and warming the audience up to the idea of watching Shakespeare.
Traditional costumes have also been swapped for jeans and biker jackets, and in a truly modern twist, iPads and mobile phones have even been introduced.
Gary says: "The actors work very hard to ensure that the true message of Shakespeare comes through.
"Rehearsals are intense and a lot of time is spent trying to understand the characters. The original text is always used."
Gary spent 15 years working in publishing before making a move to teaching drama, English and media A-Levels. He has been acting and directing since his late teens.
The entirely self funded project is truly a team effort.
From learning to make flyers using Photoshop to generating publicity online, Base Tikes work together to put on unique and professional performances.
More than anything they are committed to the educational value of Shakespeare and are keen to do workshops and performances in schools and in the local community. They are currently producing a range of free educational resources for schools to use in English and drama lessons.
Gary is also keen to work with young filmmakers in the future to make online short films of Shakespeare.
As to what is next? Gary laughs: "With the World Cup next year, perhaps the battle scenes between England and France in Henry V might be appropriate!" Julius Caesar is at 7.30pm on August 7. Antony and Cleopatra is at 7.30pm on August 8. For tickets and more information visit www.basetikes.com.
'' The Base Tikes don't shy away from introducing a cheeky musical number or two. Traditional costumes have been swapped for jeans and biker jackets
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