Orange County School of the Arts

The bard of the 21st century

It’s uncommon for you to stumble upon a someone who is unfamiliar with the works of William Shakespeare or the Star Wars franchise. However, have you ever associated these two things together?

Probably not.

While they are both household names, they’re pretty dissimilar in so many ways– one being a dramatic poet and playwright, and the other being a plethora of movies taking place in “a galaxy far, far away.” However, not all find these two very far from being connected.

In July of 2012, Ian Doescher came up with the idea to merge together Star Wars and Shakespeare. He had just read Seth Grahame-Smith’s “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” another mash-up book, and realized that two unlikely things could actually work. As a lover of both Shakespeare and Star Wars, Doescher has noticed that many Star Wars movies were just about the length of a Shakespearean play, and many of the themes overlap. With optimism that these books could end up being great, he contacted Quirk Books.

Books had published the book he had previously read, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” so he knew that they could possibly make his idea a reality. And in fact, Jason Rekulak, the editor of Quirk, liked the idea; he wanted to read it if Doescher decided to write something.

He wrote up a sample containing the first act, which in a Shakespeare play means one-fifth of the book, and Rekulak loved it. He passed it along to Lucasfilm, who gave the same reaction as Rekulak, and they licensed the book. On July 2, 2013, one year after he had thought of the idea, the first book was published.

While the publishing process wasn’t the most difficult, Doescher did face problems in the writing process. As most know, Shakespeare is not a breeze. His style is unique, and it’s hard to correctly do unless you’re an expert. Lucky for him, he had taken one Shakespeare class in college. He contacted his professor, Murray Biggs, who helped him with Elizabethan grammar. Doescher explains that one of the hardest things to do was writing in iambic pentameter. However, he pointed out that the more you write in verse, the easier it gets– which is why it was much easier to write the following books after the first.

Because of his help and his ability to continue trying to get into the groove of his language, Doescher’s books became something that really gave justice to Shakespeare’s talents.

Not only did Doescher need to give justice to Shakespeare, he also needed to make sure he gave justice to the iconic moments and characters in Star Wars. The special moments such as “I am your father” and “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” are important to the large Star Wars fanbase, and Doescher wanted to make sure he pleased them.

While he was able to make very simple translations for some in order to not make many changes, he also wanted to make sure that he was also able to use his own creativity. He knew people would be flipping to read those lines first, so he had to make sure it was done tastefully.

Doescher was also able to use his creativity with the Star Wars characters. With the characters like Chewbacca, R2-D2, BB-8, and all the others who communicate without using English, he needed to find to show who these characters are. He wanted to keep the beeps, chirps, growls, and variation of noises, but also add something different. One way he was able to do this was by giving R2-D2 the ability to speak English but only to the audience for when none of the other characters can hear in asides. This was comical and exceedingly smart and was well accepted by Star Wars fans.

Character’s soliloquies, asides, and the bonus scenes written by Doescher was where his creativity really came into play. Touching the hearts of fans from all over, his books were able to become a hit because of his originality, and his ability to incorporate two, unlike things into one. With teachers using his books as a bridge to Shakespeare’s art or students becoming interested in Shakespeare after reading, Doescher has able to show that Shakespeare continues to be relevant today.