See what Marc has to say about how narrating these classic Star Wars adventures in iambic pentameter has helped him better understand the Bard’s words.
A few years ago I was given the opportunity to take part in performing the audiobook of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, written by the incredibly talented Ian Doescher. I was extremely excited because I am a lifelong Star Wars fan. However if I am being completely honest, I was also extremely nervous. You see I have always had a complicated relationship with Shakespeare. I am an actor, so I know I am supposed to love the Bard. But ever since high school, I’ve had a mental block with his plays. I could never really get past all of the thees and thous. It was like reading a foreign language. I had such a hard time understanding what was being said, that I could not enjoy the drama or the humor of the plays. I tended to avoid it all. In college I had to study it again. I understood it a little bit better this time around, but I still felt like I didn’t get it. It still really intimidated me. So now I was being asked to perform Shakespeare professionally. I was scared. Would it make any sense to me? Would I be able to pull it off?
When I started to read through the script and dig into it, something really amazing started to happen. I totally understood what was going on! The language started making sense to me. Ian had done such a brilliant job of mashing together Star Wars with famous scenes from Shakespearean plays that he was able to show how similar they are, thematically and even in plot and character archetypes. I didn’t know anything about Henry V or the politics of the story. But I know the politics of the Rebellion and the Empire like the back of my hand. So when Luke says, “…and citizens in Bespin now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here. For never shall Rebellion see a time more glorious than our strong attack today!” I knew exactly what was being said. I knew what Bespin was. I knew what a huge victory the Rebellion had in that battle. I knew how bummed people would be if they were not there and unable to celebrate later at Yavin 4. Now all of a sudden Henry V started making sense to me as well.
Some of the poetry in Romeo and Juliet was always confusing to me. But reading Han and Leia’s scenes in The Empire Striketh Back unlocked some of it for me. I had so much fun recording these productions. And the one thought that kept popping back into my head was, “I wish I had Star Wars Shakespeare when I was in high school!”
Listen to clips from the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars series of audiobooks: