Luke, I am doth father: ‘Star Wars’ gets the Shakespeare treatment • Brooklyn Paper

Luke, I am doth father: ‘Star Wars’ gets the Shakespeare treatment

Useth the force: Flynn Michael, founder of the New York Light Saber Academy, with a copy of “The Empire Striketh Back” at Word bookstore.
Photo by Jason Speakman

Wherefore art thou Leia?

Space and Shakespeare will collide at Word bookstore in Greenpoint on July 1, with a release party for “William Shakespeare’s the Jedi Doth Return” — a newly published version of “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi,” written in the style of the Bard.

“I feel like if Shakespeare was alive today, he’d be writing things like ‘Star Wars,’ ” said Ian Doescher, who has previously penned versey versions of “Star Wars” episodes four and five.

Selections from all three of Doescher’s works will be performed at the in-store event, complete with costumes and a discussion with the author over video conference.

The scenes will be read by five costumed players, who were recruited from Word staff and patrons. The organizers are also encouraging audience members to dress in garb that recalls either the Bard of Avon or a galaxy far, far away — or both. And during select scenes, onlookers may be asked to participate.

A Word employee said the launch and reading were right up the bookstore’s alley.

“Our staff includes some big ‘Star Wars’ fans,” said Jenn Northington, Word’s events coordinator. “Plus this is a good excuse to do something fun and interactive for the summer.”

Doescher, who will Skype in to the event from his home in Portland, Ore., said he got the idea for his remix retro theater pieces after reading a similarly conceived book called “Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies,” followed by a marathon viewing of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, and finally a trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The books each include five acts, and are written mostly in iambic pentameter. And the prologue of each play interprets the famous scrolling text at the beginning of the “Star Wars” films.

“In time so long ago begins our play / In hope-fill’d galaxy far, far away,” the newest play opens.

The author said he believes “Star Wars” is closest to Shakespeare’s history plays, such as “Henry V” and “Richard III”. But Doescher found lots of parallels between characters from the two epic catalogues. Luke Skywalker and Hamlet share problems about their fathers, C3PO and R2D2 are just like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and Chewbacca is basically Caliban from “The Tempest,” he said.

“Vader is trying to figure out how he’s going to die, pretty much like King Lear,” said Doescher.

Alas, Naughty Droid: A Night of Shakespeare and “Star Wars” at Word [126 Franklin St. between Milton and Noble streets in Greenpoint, (718) 383–0096, www.wordbookstores.org]. July 1 at 7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Alas, poor Jedi: Jenn Northington of Word bookstore shows off an earlier installment of “Shakespeare’s Star Wars,” a book that takes the famed movie triology and re-imagines it as a series of Shakespearean plays.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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