Ian Doescher YC '99 & M.Div '05 Introduces Shakespeare to Star Wars
Above: Ian Doescher (right) reads with stalwart Star Wars fan Sean McAvoy in Madison, CT. Photo by Jim Hackney.
William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, five long narrative poems, and thirty-eight plays. He worked almost exclusively in iambic pentameter, and died in 1616, three hundred and sixty-one years before the premiere of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.
And yet Star Wars and Shakespeare have always shared certain elements. Knightly duels, bickering sidekicks, lovable rogues, dastardly emperors, and star-crossed love are just a few of the many story points found in both the Bard’s work and the galactic saga of George Lucas.
Usually, this type of comparison is limited to papers in English or Film Studies. But no longer!
Ian Doescher YC ’99 & M.Div ’05 has just published the third volume of his critically-acclaimed mash-up series “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars”, where Doescher interprets each film in the original trilogy as a Shakespearean play. Characters speak in Elizabethan iambic pentameter, the stage directions contain lines like “Exit Lando of Calrissian”, and a well-known story is made delightfully new for the reader.
Imagine Yoda, speaking only in haiku. Or Jabba the Hutt, with his own personal gangster rap. Or Princess Leia and Han Solo rhyming each other’s sentences, à la Romeo & Juliet.
These books are a joy. Last week, I set forth with Senior Director of Development Jim Hackney MAR ’79 to meet the author in person, and hear him read from the latest and last installment The Jedi Doth Return.
It was an absolute blast. If you can, go see Ian Doescher. He is funny, personable, and open about his inspirations and passions for both Star Wars and Shakespeare. When reading his plays he provides different voices for each character, and he does a killer Yoda.
He also pointed out a YDS shout-out in his work, where he writes “E’en droids aren’t masters of divinity” (Act III, scene 3, line 93), the final line in a four-line acrostic spelling out YALE. The book is littered with easter-eggs and small treasures such as this. In an email, Mr. Doescher echoed the feelings of many alumni when he wrote “YDS was easily my best academic experience”, and it’s wonderful to see him tip the hat to YDS in his latest best-seller.
Mr. Doescher stayed around afterwards to sign books and speak with the crowd. He was as friendly in person as he had been on stage. Jim and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting him and hearing a little bit about his time at YDS, as well as all of his recent and exciting work with Star Wars. We can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!