Chicago-born brothers Gregory and Jeffrey Qaiyum—a.k.a. writer-actor GQ and composer JQ— put an urban spin on Shakespeare
JQ (left) and GQ
It's a pretty safe bet he didn't plan it this way, but when William Shakespeare opted to write in iambic pentameter, he laid the groundwork for hip-hop adaptations of his plays several centuries on. Chicago-born brothers Gregory and Jeffrey Qaiyum—a.k.a. writer-actor GQ and composer JQ, both of whom moonlight locally as hip-hop artists—picked up on the pattern while working on their first "ad-rap-tation," The Bomb-itty of Errors, an urban spin on the Bard's Comedy of Errors that ran at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in 2001. The B-boys return to CST in June with the world premiere of Funk It Up About Nothin'. Inspired by Much Ado About Nothing, the brothers' take replaces Shakespeare's word-tangling sheriff Dogberry with a character, Dingleberry, who "has a bit of a James Brown/ Shaft quality," Jeffrey says. Soldiers in the original battle-of-wills romantic comedy are reborn as MCs, whose weapons of choice are rhythm and rhyme, and DJs who spin records instead of swinging swords. The update should work especially well for the ever-bickering Beatrice and Benedick, who become sparring streetwise poets for our time. June 25–Aug 3. Wed, Thu at 7; Fri, Sat at 7 and 9:30; Sun at 2:30. $22–$30. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E Grand. 312-595-5600.