What Would a Modern Shakespeare be like?

There are many questions that plague the human mind – why is the sky blue? Is water wet? When a fish is in water, is it wet? Could Jack and Rose have fit on that door so they could both survive? (Spoiler: yes, they could have) Most of these questions remain unanswered, or at least incite a never-ending debate that can last decades.

One question we’d like to add to this unsolvable pool of questions is: what would a modern Shakespeare be like?

Who is Shakespeare?

Before we dive into that question, it’s probably best to see who Shakespeare was. If you don’t know who Shakespeare is, then you’ve probably lived under a rock your entire life or you just never paid attention in literature class. Believed to be one of the best British writers of all time, Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in 1564. His works tackled a wide range of topics – from love, jealousy, death, grief, revenge, murder, and life to the life and times of kings or historical figures. For more about his works you can read in the william shakespeare essays.

The thing that really sets him apart from other writers in his time is the fact that he invented new words for the English language, most of which are still being used today. This is why he’s considered the rock star of British literature – imagine creating 1,700 words and still have them be used over 400 years after your death!

His legacy doesn’t just include inventing new words for the English language, he’s also written around 37 plays, some of which are called classics by critics and literature enthusiasts alike. Even if you aren’t familiar with his stuff, you might recognize some lines from his plays that have been used in so many films and songs in pop culture, like the famous ‘to be or not to be’ line from Hamlet or ‘Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo’ in his most famous work Romeo and Juliet.

The Modern-Day Shakespeare

It’s no secret that Shakespeare is a romantic. His most famous work was a tragic love story between two star-crossed lovers who died together in the end – he’s got more than enough romance and drama in that amazing brain of his.

We haven’t seen an artist like him in a while, but there is one, in our opinion, that stands out.

A New Prodigy

Somewhere in our search for the modern-day Shakespeare, we chanced across a humble playwright, born in New York, coming from a family of Puerto Rican descent: Lin-Manuel Miranda. In the year that has been nothing short of a roller coaster for him, Lin-Manuel Miranda went on to make one of the greatest musicals this world has ever seen: Hamilton.

Officially known as Hamilton: An American Musical, the play has been running since September 2015 and is said to run until March 2019, and rightfully so. It set a world-breaking 16 Tony nominations, winning 11 of them, almost tying the record with the 2001 play The Producers, who won 12 Tony awards in one night.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, on his own, has won 3 Tony awards, 2 Olivier awards, 2 Grammys, an Emmy, and 1 Pulitzer Prize. Those are crazy awards to have under his belt, and to be honest, we’re sure those aren’t the last awards he’ll win.

What makes Lin-Manuel Miranda so different is how he wrote Hamilton. The composition of the songs of Hamilton aren’t your usual Broadway songs – they’re infused with heavy hip-hop and RnB influences, using rap to tell the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. It was written so seamlessly that most fans of the play haven’t seen a single show, getting hooked over the story by just the soundtrack itself.

After the critically-acclaimed success of Hamilton, Miranda went on to compose several soundtracks for films. He was hired by Disney to contribute to the soundtrack of their much-anticipated 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In 2016, he was hired to compose the soundtrack to the animated film Moana, which went on to be a box-office hit. He then progressed into acting in films, lending his voice to Disney as Gizmoduck in their 2017 reboot of DuckTales. After the success of Hamilton, he went on to star in Mary Poppins Returns as Jack, anticipated to be released in December 2018.

Call it whatever you want, but it’s undeniable that Lin-Manuel Miranda has breathed new life into Broadway and musicals as we know it, and he’s just beginning.

Questions Answered

Sometimes, when we’re lucky, we figure out the answers to the questions that plague us – it turns out the sky is blue because it reflects the ocean and that water isn’t actually wet. When it comes to the question of what a modern Shakespeare would be like, we need to look no further than Lin-Manuel Miranda.