“Shakespeare is very hip-hop…” Bike-tour actor Ralf Jean-Pierre crowdfunds Bard-inspired album

In 2012, Brooklyn actor Ralf Jean-Pierre set out on an epic bicycle journey across the USA. Starting in Florida, he cycled to California, up to Washington and across the Midwest, before returning home.

On the way, he performed one-man Shakespeare scenes at Waffle Houses, skate parks, shelters – anywhere he could gather an audience as The ’Speare Bearer.

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“It was an insane way to perform,” Ralf says, “but I got to bring Shakespeare to the people, like my hero Joe Papp.”

A highlight on the journey was performing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Festival producer Claudia Aalick caught Ralf performing one afternoon and invited him to be a featured guest at the festival’s Green Show – which included clowns, jazz bands and flamenco dancers.

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“It was a thrill to go from entertaining random crowds in parking lots to hearing the applause of over 200 theater fans,” Ralf says.

Also a rapper and songwriter, Ralf is now documenting his tour through a musically eclectic album, What Should Be the Fear (the title comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet). He is currently fundraising on Kickstarter to cover recording costs.

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“I think Rappers are the true inheritors of the modern Shakespeare tradition,” Ralf says. “Shakespeare was the urban medium of its era. Rappers deal in verse and meter and rhythm. They use their voices in new and unexpected ways, even creating new words.

“Rappers tell stories, often even rapping in character. Shakespeare is tragic, funny, synchronously profane and sublime, which is very hip-hop.”

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To find out more about Ralf’s crowdfunder campaign, go here.

You can follow Ralf Jean-Pierre on Twitter @RJPEsquire and Instagram @PrecGorgRalf