Feature Story

Harry Potter Meets Shakespeare

April 11, 2018 – by Katie Kuckelheim ’19

Now a member of a Shakespearean theatre troupe in Chicago, Hannah Mary Simpson ’16 is performing in a play she helped to write as an Ohio Wesleyan student, ‘The Tragedy of Tom Riddle.’ (Photo courtesy of Hannah Mary Simpson)

Ohio Wesleyan Student-Written Play to be Performed in May in Chicago

Ohio Wesleyan University alumna Hannah Mary Simpson’s Hufflepuff heart is bursting with excitement.

As a student, Simpson ’16 and six other students penned the play “The Tragedy of Tom Riddle” as part of an experimental “How to Write Like Shakespeare” course.

In May, Simpson and the Chicago-based Shakespearean theatre troupe Odd’s Bodkins will take the play to the stage.

“To state the obvious,” says Simpson, a theatre and English double-major, “it is one of the best pieces of undergraduate writing I’ve ever completed.”

“It’s amazing how well Voldemort’s story arc lends itself to the five-act structure of a Shakespearean play,” she reflects.

The play, based on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, is a retelling of the Potter story from Voldemort’s point of view – all in Shakespearean verse. It was written for a class taught by Zack Long, Ph.D., associate professor of English.

Long says he enjoyed teaching students the skills Shakespeare learned and then helping them to write their own Shakespearean-style plays.

Unfortunately, he said, the class never got to fully perform their works, making the Odd’s Bodkin performance the final piece of Long’s academic experiment.

“We’ll get to see if their composition not only reads, but performs, like a Shakespeare play. I’m very excited to find out,” Long says. He also presented a three-minute, i-Cubed lecture about “How to Write Like Shakespeare” in spring 2016.

In addition to Simpson, “The Tragedy of Tom Riddle” was written by current Ohio Wesleyan students Nash Bonnema ’19, Jordan Waterwash ’18, and Nicole White ’18, and by 2016 alumni Miranda Dean, Matt Shriver, and Julia Stone.

“The Tragedy of Tom Riddle” will be performed at 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in May at The Cornservatory (sic), 4210 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.