LIGHTS UP on two YOUNG WOMEN with pixie cuts.
I’m not a playwright, I’m an actor!
You’re both. You’re going to write a collaborative Harry Potter-themed play in the style of Shakespeare with six other classmates your senior year at OWU. Then you’ll move to Chicago and act in lot of plays and write some sketch comedy because of course you do, you’re in CHICAGO.
Wait, how did you get in here? Are you me from the future? (SHE gasps.) IS THAT A TIME-TURNER??
I took ENG 338, or “How To Write Like Shakespeare” in the spring of 2016 at Ohio Wesleyan University. As a Theatre/English Literature dual major, I’d had many opportunities to read and perform Shakespeare throughout the four years of my undergraduate career. But, after taking this class, I learned how to write like him, too. Which is, for lack of a better term, pretty neat.
This script was originally written as a collaborative academic exercise. Our objective? To see how effectively we could write in the style of Shakespeare. The sound-smart-at-a-cocktail-party word for such an endeavor is called imitatio—that is, to produce a piece of work that evokes the essence of the original without being an exact copy of said original. But as such, there are many elements in the text that do not align with the original Harry Potter canon. There are no Horcruxes (but there are seven playwrights...), some major characters have been eliminated, and smaller canon scenes have been magnified into central plot points. Just as Shakespeare did, we took an extant plot, kept what we wanted, and threw out the rest. Everyone in our group was a specialist in one aspect of Shakespearean writing as a result of researched presentations and personal interests. Not surprisingly, the specialists in the group tended to write the material for the play of which they were most knowledgeable, whether it be the how-to’s on soliloquies, Shakespearean clown antics, or when to use “you” vs. when to use “thou.” I gravitated towards writing the soliloquies, but, there was never a sense that certain parts of writing the play were off-limits to members of the group who didn’t specialize in one thing over another (there are plenty of soliloquies in the play that I did not write). But, the specialists were always there to offer assistance if needed.
To take a new play from its conception to its first production and play a major role in each step of the process has been the stuff of a theatre nerd’s fever dream, and I can’t wait to give this piece to the audience.
--Hannah Mary Simpson, Playwright