“Potterversity” Episode 10: “William Shakespeare’s History of Hogwarts?”
Universes collide as we imagine the story of the founding of Hogwarts in the form of a Shakespeare play.
In this episode, we’re joined by Ian Doescher, author of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars as well as Shakespearean retellings other of modern tales. He tells us about how he first embarked on this project and what made Star Wars a natural fit for Shakespeare. Ian is particularly struck by how Shakespeare mines human emotion and provides insight into characters’ motives and feelings with soliloquies – something we don’t get during emotional but silent scenes on film, such as Luke Skywalker watching the binary sunset on Tatooine.
We love Star Wars and Shakespeare here at Potterversity, but what does this have to do with Harry Potter? It comes down to an intriguing line in the FAQ section of Ian’s website, which explains that he had an idea for the story of the Hogwarts founders as told by Shakespeare, which unfortunately did not receive permission to go forward from the powers that be. We talk about why this was the Potter story Ian was drawn to, which Shakespearean themes and characters are echoed in this tale, the role of the supernatural in Shakespeare’s work, how the Sorting Hat would fit in, and why Shakespeare was obviously a wizard.
As Katy mentions that she finds Voldemort to be relatively two-dimensional and thinks he could benefit from a soliloquy, Ian discusses why he enjoys writing villains and how exciting it was to hear Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine) read from The Jedi Doth Return. Emily brings up the genre of pastiche, which involves imitating another writer’s style, and Ian explains how he both tries to shed light on the form of Shakespearean drama and give new life to the story he is retelling. Translating contemporary language into early modern English and iambic pentameter poses its own challenges, and Ian doesn’t stop there. He works to employ the various literary devices Shakespeare used and keep iconic scenes recognizable and humorous while transforming them.
Ian is continuing his retellings with William Shakespeare’s Avengers and his Star Wars pastiches with I Wish I Had a Wookiee, a book of Star Wars poetry in the style of Shel Silverstein. As for William Shakespeare’s History of Hogwarts, the rights remain elusive, but if permission ever came through, Ian would gladly pick up his quill.
In our Owl Post segment, two listeners ask whether Darth Vader and Kylo Ren deserved their redemption and if Voldemort could have been redeemed. We get into the ethical and theological weeds of whether redemption can ever be truly deserved or whether it must be earned.