That immortal bard, Shakespeare, is possibly one of the single best known playwrights in the world. So what would it be like if he had tried his hand at writing science fiction? That’s the question Ian Doescher seeks to answer with his William Shakespeare’s Star Wars trilogy. Verily, A New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back and The Jedi Doth Return are three gleeful, tongue in cheek romps through the twin mythos of Shakespeare and Lucas, blending thoughtful soliloquies with starfighter action in a weird but fun reminder that there really are no new stories, just new takes on them.
This trilogy has plenty to love, from the irreverent twisting of old soliloquies to new circumstances to hilarious illustrations of how the play might be staged, these books are love letters to both sets of source material and a reminder that we love stories best when we enjoy them. Doescher does a great job both painting the movie characters and scenes we know so well while letting the format of Elizabethan theater give further insight into characters that the franchise, due to it’s early limits, explored in other media or the eventual prequels.
You can do a lot with these texts. Obviously, you can just read them, and believe me that’s a lot of fun. But you can also get together with a dozen friends or so and have a hilarious night doing a dramatic reading of them. I did this about a month ago and it was incredible fun. In this way you, like the people of most times up until a hundred years ago, can make your own entertainment and participate in the process, things modern entertainment rarely allows for.
You might even explore staging these shows, although between the difficulties of staging, costuming and finding a large enough cast, to say nothing of the legal challenges inherent in messing with someone else’s IP (especially one as big as Star Wars) make this a daunting prospect..
But most of all these scripts are interesting for what they say about the stories themselves. The timelessness of the characters far surpass the language or the medium used to convey them to us. That’s one of the reasons great art has such enduring qualities, why people are motivated to try and marry such diverse concepts as Shakespeare and Star Wars in the first place.
A careful reading of these texts, especially in comparison with the movies that inspired them, say a lot about the structure of story and relatable characters. Just try not to do it while you’re eating unless you want to spray food all over your kitchen table.
It’s a real hazard, believe me.
Whatever you do, should you choose to peruse these strange yet familiar texts, enjoy yourself. Even the best of these kind are but shadows, after all…