Devon Glover was a regular Brooklyn kid, pursuing rap in his late teens. But his affinity for theater, and modernized teaching styles, is what set him apart.
Glover noticed the effectiveness of setting learning material to a lyricized, hip-hop beat. He admittedly struggled to comprehend Shakespeare as a student, but quickly realized the parallels between the Bard’s word use and rap.
From that realization, the Sonnet Man was created in 2010. In association with Academic Entertainment, the Sonnet Man raps Shakespeare pieces verbatim, then follows with his own lyrics to re-illustrate the storyline in modern English.
He travels the U.S. focusing mainly on schools, with the goal of changing students’ perceptions on the classical teachings. In 2015 alone, the Sonnet Man visited 20 states and four countries to spread his message.
The Sonnet Man was first introduced to the Fargo-Moorhead community this past spring, with performances at the annual Misfit Conference.
“It’s a great artistic place, and I’ve been asked back a few times as a result of my past visits,” Glover said.
Jeff Knight, a board member at The Rourke Museum, suggested Glover as a performer. Jacinta Michael, an employee at The Rourke, is working to use her platform at the museum to inject hip-hop into the F-M community. The performance is 7 p.m. Saturday and is free and open to the public
Glover said for the most part, content does not vary based on performance venue. If he chooses to, it is only to make the content suitable for all ages. He gave a brief preview of his upcoming performance, without revealing too many details.
“(The audience) can experience Shakespeare through hip-hop music, along with a couple of personal pieces. Each song will be connected with my story of beginning the Sonnet Man,” Glover said.
In terms of what he hoped the audience would take from his performance, Glover’s goals are simple.
“I hope the audience looks at Shakespeare and hip-hop in a different light. Both topics have a bad reputation – Shakespeare for being difficult to understand and past its time, and hip-hop being only containing ignorant content,” Glover said. “With the Sonnet Man, hip-hop and Shakespeare can be heard in a different way.”