William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope
Ian Doescher translates the story of Star Wars: A New Hope into a Shakespearean-style play. The result is an incredibly cohesive and hilarious must-read for any geek.
Author: Ian Doescher
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: Sci-fi media tie-in (Star Wars)/ Shakespearean style drama
Star Wars fan and Shakespeare aficionado from Portland, Oregon (where else?), Ian Doescher, combined his two passions to create a series of Shakespearean plays based on the first six movies of the Star Wars saga. He has also written a Shakespearean version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Spiritual Content: Just like in the Star Wars movies, this play contains the Force–that all-encompassing, all-binding energy field, which seems to represent different things to different people.
Violence: Darth Vader chokes some people with the Force; there are many casualties in lightsaber and space battles. It’s the same type of violence you see in Star Wars: A New Hope, just more melodramatic
Language/Crude Humor: The word d*mned is used at least once.
Sexual Content: N/A
Drug/Alcohol Use: N/A
Other Negative Content: N/A
Positive Content: It is a Shakespearean spin on Star Wars: A New Hope, which is a space fantasy spin on the classic “hero’s journey” tale. The battle between good and evil is the central theme.
As it turns out, the story of Star Wars, with all its drama, tragedy, comedy, romance, archetypal characters, and confusing family relations, fits perfectly into the world of Shakespeare. Seeing as the great playwright penned his own fantasy, The Tempest, it seems only logical to present Star Wars in his illustrious style. At least, Ian Doescher thought so–and he is profiting from it.
The author isn’t the only one profiting from this idea, however; so are all the fans. Since I already knew the story of A New Hope very well, being a born-and-raised Star Wars fan, I didn’t think it was possible to experience it like new again. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars changed my mind on that, though. As soon as I began reading the prologue, a chorus-read version of the opening scroll in iambic pentameter, I knew I was in for a real treat.
For the most part, the drama is the same, beat-for-beat, as the script of A New Hope. However, from time to time, the author takes creative license and gives characters a soliloquy or an aside to describe their feelings on the events happening around them. They are a lot of fun, and very dramatic.
One of my favorite aspects of this play is that all the aliens and droids speak in their languages–but in iambic pentameter. Ian Doescher doesn’t translate into English for us, but he does fit droid beeps, Huttese, and Wookie growls into Shakespeare’s poetic formatting. The one exception to this is R2-D2. He beeps, whistles, and meeps to his fellow cast members, but he also gives asides to the audience–in English. I found it immensely entertaining to hear what was going on inside the head of one of the most important, and least communicative, characters in the series.
There are also a lot of great inside-jokes and references to the rest of the Star Wars series and Shakespeare’s most famous plays. I even caught one reference to Star Trek in there. If you consider yourself a Star Wars or Shakespeare fan at all, you will probably enjoy Ian Doescher’s sense of humor.
The only thing I took issue with was the use of the chorus as a narrator. At the beginning, during the prologue, I really enjoyed hearing from them. However, there were a few instances in which I felt that they were overused or distracted from the flow of the drama.
Overall, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars is just about as ridiculous, entertaining, and all-around quirky as it sounds–if not more so. I would recommend it to all the Star Wars fans I know. As for the rest of the series, well, it looks like I might need to take another trip to Powell’s City of Books…
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+ Incredible use of Shakespearean language and style
+ Countless in-jokes for Shakespeare and Star Wars fans
+ Aliens speaking in iambic pentameter
+ Asides (in English) by R2-D2
- Distracting use of narrator voice/chorus on occasion