Martin Baum de­cides that Shake­speare would read bet­ter as: ‘To be or not to be, in­nit’

The Jewish Chronicle - - People -

SATIRIST MARTIN Baum is con­cerned that school­child­ren are daunted by William Shake­speare’s works. So — gad­zooks! — he has rewrit­ten the play­wright’s col­lec­tion en­tirely in “yoof-speak”, in the hope that the slang will ap­peal to a younger au­di­ence.

Mr Baum’s book, To Be or Not To Be, In­nit, in­cludes Macb­eff and Two Geezas of Verona, among 15 abridged ver­sions of Shake­speare’s work. It is an Ama­zon best­seller, and chat-show hosts Gra­ham Nor­ton and Paul O’Grady have re­quested copies of the book for their shows.

Mr Baum, 48, tells Peo­ple: “I am pas­sion­ate about English and lit­er­a­ture, but have found that a lot of young peo­ple are daunted by Shake­speare’s lan­guage. Text-speak and street slang has be­come the norm for a lot of young peo­ple. I am hop­ing the book will draw kids in to Shake­speare.”

Other ti­tles in his col­lec­tion in­clude Romeo and his Fit Bitch Jules, Much Ado into Sod All and As You Likes It. “I kept the facts but re-wrote them in street-style.”

Does this not en­cour­age street slang and bad lan­guage? “No, it makes an en­ter­tain­ing read and holds kids’ at­ten­tion,” he says. “It helps them to stick with the story all the way through.” He points out that the Royal Shake­speare Com­pany’s di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion, Jac­qui O’Han­lon, has wel­comed the book. “If it’s good enough for her, then it’s good enough for me.”

Mr Baum ad­mits he did not ex­pect the book to take off as it has. “I can not fathom it. It is re­ally quite hum­bling and scary.”

Mr Baum, of Dorset, who writes for sev­eral satir­i­cal shows in­clud­ing the News Re­vue at the Canal Café, Lon­don, is con­sid­er­ing pub­lish­ing his next “yoof­s­peak” on the work of Charles Dick­ens. To Be or Not To Be, In­nit: A Yoof-Speak Guide to Shake­speare is pub­lished by Ber­tram Books

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