Shakespeare’s Star Wars and Other Thoughts: An Interview with Ian Doescher

Ian_Doescher_Shakespeares_Star_WarsIan Doescher is the author of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily a New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back, and the upcoming The Jedi Doth Return. He is also a song-writer who once spent a year writing geeky songs about his home town, Portland, Oregon. Here, he takes time to discuss his work with FanboyNation’s Jessica Greenlee.

Jessica Greenlee When did you decide to write a Shakespearean Star Wars?

Ian Doescher In the middle of 2012, three things happened in close succession: I rewatched the entire Star Wars trilogy with good friends of mine, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (one of the first in the mash-up genre of literature), and my family and I went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. So I attribute the idea for William Shakespeare’s Star Wars to those three things colliding in my brain.

J. G.When did you first encounter Shakespeare’s work?

I.D. When I was in eighth grade, my brother Erik was a senior in high school and was reading Hamlet. I thought he was cool so I bought a copy of Hamlet myself, so I could be reading it with him. I hardly touched it, but from that point on I at least told myself I was into Shakespeare. The next year, as a freshman in high school, we read Othello in English class and I was hooked. I had been very involved in theater, so reading something for English class that was also something that was meant to be performed was fun. I was the nerd who would memorize the soliloquys and then perform them standing on my desk in English class. I had patient teachers.

J. G.How do you prepare for writing the books on the Star Wars side?

Star-Wars-Shakespeare-Verily-a-New-HopeI.D. The writing process was a matter of sitting down with my computer with the DVD of whichever movie I was working on in it, and the online script (thank you, blueharvest.net!) open. Then, I would watch a few seconds of the movie, remind myself of the exact dialogue, look to the script in case there were details I needed (minor characters’ names, for instance), and then see how those lines might translate into something approximating Elizabethan English. I usually would try to get two or three minutes of the movie finished each night when I sat down to write.

J. G.What about the Shakespeare side of things? Do you reread a lot of plays? Watch them? Memorize speeches?

I.D. I’ve found myself reading through snippets of plays, and I’ve seen a handful of plays performed since I started writing the Star Wars books, but I haven’t actually read through a whole play in a few years. I’d like to go back through and reread the complete works (something I did back in 1999), but I haven’t made the time for it yet.

J. G.You have mentioned elsewhere that Return of the Jedi is your favorite Star Wars movie. Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play? Do you have any favorite movie or stage versions of any play or plays?

I.D. I think my favorite Shakespeare play overall is Hamlet, though I’m also a big fan of The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, and Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 and Henry V. That list is heavily influenced by the fact that I was in high school and college when Kenneth Branagh made Much Ado and Hamlet. I love Julie Taymor’s Tempest, and I also saw an amazing production of The Tempest in college that was staged around the college’s Olympic-quality pool. Great concept.

J. G.You draw from both Romeo and Juliet and Beatrice and Benedick for Han and Leia. Which couple do you think they are most like?

I.D. Definitely Beatrice and Benedick—I think Han and Leia enjoy the parrying back and forth they do with each other. Romeo and Juliet had passion, but didn’t use their wits on each other, and Han and Leia definitely do.

J. G. What made you decide that the Wampa needed a monologue in The Empire Striketh Back?

I.D. When I sat down to start writing Empire, I knew I wanted the second book to be even more “out there” in terms of the choices I made, even more unexpected surprises for people who knows the movies backward and forward and maybe had already read William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. The wampa presented that opportunity early on in Empire, hopefully a way to signal to readers, “Hey, we’re going to have a lot of fun here.”

J. G What is something you are particularly looking forward to presenting in The Jedi Doth Return? Is there a particular character or relationship we should be watching for?

I.D. As I’ve worked on Jedi, it has been fun finding something new to do with the Ewok speech. I’ve already played around with non-English dialogue in William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and The Empire Striketh Back, so I wanted to find something totally new to do with the Ewoks. Also, it has been fun getting inside Darth Vader’s head as he transforms from someone who is totally evil into someone who can imagine saving his son from the clutches of the Emperor.

J. G.Is there any character that you especially like or that gave you extra difficulty?

I.D. Writing Luke has been surprisingly fun, because I never loved him that much in the movies (particularly Star Wars). I’ve enjoyed giving voice to characters who don’t otherwise get to talk much—like the Wampa—because that has been a fun exercise in imagination: “What would that character say?”

J. G. Do you have any plans for future Shakespearean works other than Star Wars?

I.D. Possibly. But nothing is certain yet!

empire striketh backJ. G. You’re also a song-writer with four albums out. Are there more albums to come? Do you tend to stick to one particular style or vary your approach? Is there a song or songs you think we should listen to to get an idea of what you write?  And, is this why the Ugnaughts sing in Cloud City?

I.D. Music has been a passion for me since high school—just like Shakespeare—so I will always keep writing music and singing. In terms of something that exemplifies my songwriting, “The Elephant Swing” or “Mr. Zamboni Man” probably come pretty close. They’re a cappella, they’re totally ridiculous. After writing William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and adding in a song for Leia when Alderaan is destroyed, I knew I wanted to add more songs to the subsequent books. Hence the Ugnaughts. (And yes, I’ve definitely imagined how their song would sound!)

J. G. How much do your musical interests influence your written work? Is there music you tend to listen to when you write?

I.D. Honestly, I think the answer is there’s not a lot of crossover, except for the fact that lots of lyric writing over the years has helped me be more fluid (and more picky) with meter and rhyme. And that definitely helped. I almost never listen to music when I write. Anything with words distracts me too much, so if I listen to anything, it’s classical (Bach is a particular favorite).

J.G. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

No Responses

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Manchester by the Sea
Now on Blu-ray: The Heart-Wrenching Human Drama of ‘Manchester by the Sea’

Awards season is funny. When writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the...

Mildred Pierce
Now on Blu-ray: The Devious Domestic Drama of ‘Mildred Pierce’

The legacy of Joan Crawford has, for the most part, become...

The Klansman
Now on Blu-Ray: Lee Marvin Battles the Klan in 1974’s ‘The Klansman’

The opening frames of the 1974 piece of exploitation from director...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Automata Battle Trailer
NieR: Automata Battle Trailer Introduces Players to their Main Weapon Types

NieR: Automata Battle Trailer Introduces Players to their the Main Weapon...

Shift Happens
Shift Happens is the Most Clever, Cute, and Challenging Game Coming Out Next Week

Shift Happens is instantly the most cleverly titled game out so...

Koei Tecmo America Announces Western Release of Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada

Follow the legend of the Sanada Clan from their heroic rise...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Boston Metaphysical Society Kickstarter Is Building Up Steam

If you haven’t checked out Boston Metaphysical Society yet, you definitely...

‘Inkspirations’ is a Parasitic Art Book Selling Spirituality

I really should read my e-mails more carefully. If I had...

8.5/10
Sliced Quarterly #5 Review

Sliced Quarterly is back with Sliced Quarterly #5, another comic anthology...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Tamashii Nations and Bluefin Expand the Market for Awesome Stuff Across North America

Tamashii Nations and Bluefin expand the market for high-quality Japanese collectibles...

LootCrate Jan 2017 Box is Super!

LootCrate starts out the new year with a bang. This is...

Tamashii Nations Dr. Strange
Bluefin Announces Tamashii Nations Dr. Strange & Iron Man Hall of Armor Figure Sets

Bluefin continues to expand its line of officially licensed Marvel inspired...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Patricky Pitbull Talks about Bellator 172

Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (16-8) who, with his brother Patricio, have become...

Bellator Returns to Torino Italy on April 8 With MMA & Kickboxing

From Bellator Kickboxing – TORINO (Feb. 7, 2017) – Bellator President...

WCA Goes International as Canada takes on South Africa

World Combat Arena (WCA) based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada will be...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
New Year’s Resolution Begins with ‘Country Heat’ Days 5, 6 & 8

Days 5 & 6: No, I didn’t forget to do days...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Pop Culture Resolutions for 2017

Hey, 2017, new year, new you?!?! The starting days of any...

New Year’s Resolution Begins with ‘Country Heat’ Day 4

Day 4: It has gone from leg pain to ab pain...

Event News Event Reviews
Rock Icons Queen and Adam Lambert Return for a 2017 North American Tour

NEW YORK, Jan. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Back by popular demand, Queen...

Third Eye Blind Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Summer Gods Tour

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — In recognition to their fans...

Santa Makes Phone Calls in Time for Christmas

NORTH POLE, Alaska, Dec. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — With just days to...

Gaming Uncensored Growing Up Geek The Popcorn Podcast Toon-In-Talk
Popcorn Podcast Episode 102: Six Degrees of Poopsock

This week on the Popcorn Podcast Chad and Izola are joined...

Popcorn Podcast Episode 101: House of Blues Anaheim

Recently Chad got a chance to tour the impressive, and still...

Popcorn Podcast Presents: Nintendo Switch Commentary

On this special episode of the Popcorn Podcast Chad, Izola and...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lebanese Englishwoman, Nadine Khouri Lulls you with ‘The Salted Air’

There is something fitting about a woman who’s last name translates...

Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con: Interview w/ Sonya Belousova

At last month’s Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con event, I had...

Mike Hill Bass Lives for ‘Love and War’

Love and War is a pop rock collaborative project that is...