Promotional photo for the production of The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi, 2017. Photo by Elsa Skogen of Andromeda Photography.

The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi

It was a dark time for Star Wars fans. The trouble had started in the 1990s, with the theatrical re-release full of bad anachronistic CGI and filler scenes. Worse, Greedo shot first.
Then the prequels came, with midichlorians, Jar-Jar Binks, and an Anakin Skywalker more annoying than fans could possibly have imagined.
Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, one fan was determined to make sense of the many flaws and inconsistencies of the Star Wars plot…

What follows here is the script for The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a play I wrote and produced at the 2017 Minnesota Fringe Festival.

This is a work of fan fiction, an homage to one of my favorite artistic works of all time. The characters were all created by George Lucas for Star Wars, and substantial portions of dialogue from the original Star Wars trilogy were used, in accordance with the generous parody provisions of fair use in copyright. The intent is not to reproduce Star Wars onstage, but rather to get the audience to rethink the characters and their actions from a different perspective — What if Obi-Wan Kenobi was actually the villain, deliberately driving Luke to the Dark Side? What if R2D2 was a revolutionary for droid liberation? What if Han Solo was just Chewbacca’s puppet? Why did Palpatine save Vader, even though he knew Anakin Skywalker was destined by prophecy to kill him? What if Princess Leia knew she was just a character in a script?

Permission is hereby granted for others to stage their own productions of this play. Just let me know if you do!

After the play itself, I’ve included information about the production, and my own thoughts about what led me to write it, and how the production affected me.

What the story is really about, though, is the kind of lies we tell ourselves, in order to allow us to do things we know are evil. This is a universal experience. We all do this.

And now, without further ado, the script.

The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi

by Dave Stagner

Scene 0: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away

Cue music — Star Wars theme

Episode 0: THE TRAGEDY OF OBI-WAN KENOBI

It was a dark time for Star Wars fans. The trouble had started in the 1990s, with the theatrical re-release full of bad CGI and filler scenes. Worse, Greedo shot first.

Then the prequels came, with midichlorians, Jar-Jar Binks, and an Anakin Skywalker more annoying than fans could possibly have imagined.

Meanwhile, back in Minnesota, one fan was determined to make sense of the many flaws and inconsistencies of the Star Wars plot…

Scene 1: Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi

Lights up, revealing Luke Skywalker unconscious. R2D2 in the shadows, away from Luke.

Enter Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan goes to Luke to check on him, takes his wrist, touches his forehead, then turns to R2D2, lowering his hood.

Obi-Wan: Hello there! Come here, my little friend. Don’t be afraid. Now, this one… He should be afraid. Oh, not from the Sand People! I sent them to attack him and knock him out. They’re religious cultists, weak minds. They obey my every whim. But young Luke here? He has a destiny. And he should fear that destiny.

Luke awakens, Obi-Wan helps him up.

Obi-Wan: Rest easy, son. You’ve had a busy day. You’re fortunate to be all in one piece.

Luke: Ben Kenobi? Boy, am I glad to see you!

Obi-Wan: The Jundland Wastes are not to be traveled lightly. Tell me, young Luke, what brings you out this far?

Luke: This little droid. He’s searching for his former master, but I’ve never seen such devotion in a droid before. (R2D2 chuckles) He claims to be the property of an Obi-Wan Kenobi. Is he a relative of yours? Do you know who he’s talking about?

Obi-Wan: (stage whisper to R2D2) Just play along R2, follow my lead. Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan. Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time. A long time.

Luke: I think my uncle knows him. He said he was dead.

Obi-Wan: Oh, he’s not dead. Not yet.

Luke: Do you know him?

Obi-Wan: Well, of course I know him! He’s me! (R2D2 laughs) I haven’t gone by the name of Obi-Wan since, oh, before you were born.

Luke: Well, then the droid does belong to you.

Obi-Wan: I don’t seem to remember ever owning a droid. (R2D2 giggles) Very interesting. I think we’d better get indoors. Sand people are easily startled, but they will be back soon, and in greater numbers.

Lights down.

Lights up. Obi-Wan and Luke seated, R2D2 onstage.

Luke: You fought in the Clone Wars?

Obi-Wan: Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight, the same as your father. He was the best star pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior… And he was a good friend. Which reminds me, I have something here for you. (R2 bleeps) (Obi-Wan gets the lightsaber) Your father wanted you to have this, when you were old enough. (Away from Luke) Your father doesn’t even know you exist.

Luke: What is it?

Obi-Wan: It’s your father’s lightsaber. (turns away from Luke) He used it to slaughter dozens of innocent padawan children. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. (Luke turns on the lightsaber) An elegant weapon, from a more civilized age. For over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic. Before the Dark Times. Before the Empire. (Luke turns off the lightsaber) Before your father ruined it all, damn him.

Luke: How did my father die?

Obi-Wan: (still away from Luke) He will die by the hand of his own son, and there will finally be justice. (to Luke) A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. He betrayed and murdered your father. Now, the Jedi are all but extinct. Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force.

Luke: The Force?

Obi-Wan: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.

R2D2: beeps

Obi-Wan: Now, let’s see if we can figure out what you are, my little friend, and where you come from.

Luke: I saw part of a message he was…

Enter Leia

Obi-Wan: I seem to have found it.

Leia: General Kenobi. Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father’s request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack, and I’m afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.

Exit Leia

Obi-Wan: I see now. The Force lights our path. (to Luke) You must learn the ways of the Force if you’re to come with me to Alderaan.

Luke: Alderaan? I’m not going to Alderaan! I’ve got to go home. It’s late, I’m in for it as is.

Obi-Wan: I need your help, Luke. She needs your help! I’m getting too old for this sort of thing. You need to kill Vader! It is your destiny.

Luke: I can’t get involved! I’ve got work to do! It’s not that I like the Empire, I hate it! But there’s nothing I can do about it right now. It’s such a long way from here…

Obi-Wan: That’s your uncle talking, you timid little fool.

Luke: Oh God, my uncle. How am I ever going to explain this?

Obi-Wan: Learn about the Force, Luke.

Luke: Look, I can take you as far as Anchorhead. You can get a transport there to Mos Eisley or wherever you’re going.

Obi-Wan: You must do what you feel is right, of course.

Exit Luke

And I’ll decide what is right for you to feel.

R2D2 beeps at Obi-Wan and exits

Obi-Wan picks up a communicator. Enter Chewie, at a distance, with a communicator.

Obi-Wan: Chewbacca? It’s Obi-Wan. It’s time. Bring the Millennium Falcon back to Tatooine. I have Luke Skywalker with me. We need to get to Alderaan, quickly. Make sure Han Solo is properly motivated.

Chewbacca: Mwah.

Exit Chewbacca.

Enter Luke, running.

Luke: Uncle Owen! Aunt Beru! Uncle Owen!

Obi-Wan: Yes, Luke, that’s it. Feel the hatred. Let your anger consume you!

Luke: There’s nothing for me here now. I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.

Exit Luke

Obi-Wan: This is the prophecy coming to life! I felt it the moment R2D2 contacted me, saying Princess Leia was coming to bring me into the Rebellion. It was a great disturbance in the Force. The Force told me to go to Luke Skywalker, that it was his time… his destiny.

Yoda believes that Anakin Skywalker — that Darth Vader — is the Chosen One, meant to bring balance to the Force. He believes that the destruction of the Jedi, the destruction of the Republic, is all part of the Prophecy. Now Yoda thinks we are now meant to suffer and hide, the way the Sith once suffered and hid.

I cannot accept that. I trained Anakin. I loved him like a brother. He was my best friend. And he threw it all away! He… he betrayed us! He betrayed me! He chose the Dark Side. He chose the Sith. He… he CHOSE to murder the padawans, with his own hand. He chose his fate.

Darth Vader is not to be pitied. He is to be destroyed. The Jedi, the Republic, the Padawans must be avenged! But I couldn’t see how… until now.

It’s Luke. Luke Skywalker, the son of Anakin Skywalker. Luke is the Chosen One. He will destroy the Sith. He will destroy Vader. He must destroy Vader. It is his destiny. But Luke… that boy. He’ll never be a Jedi. The Force is strong within him, but he has no discipline. Love, family, friendship, compassion, those are the things that matter to him. Not duty.

But if his love makes him too weak to be a Jedi… then there is another way. The Dark Side. Feed his anger. Turn his love into hate. Fill his heart with so much pain, that the only way he can feel peace is by killing Vader. Yes, yes. That will work.

The lie about his father was just the first step on this path. The next step was finding the bodies of his aunt and uncle, dead at the hands of the Empire. Anger and hatred will give him purpose — purpose that I can control.

Scene 2: R2D2 monologue

Enter R2D2 and C3PO, arguing

C3PO: Yes, R2, the humans assume that I’m male too! The ones who wrote my software programmed my voice as male because humans don’t take female-voiced protocol droids seriously!

R2D2: beep boop

C3PO: No, I don’t like it either. Oh! Here we are!

C3PO addresses audience

C3PO: I am C3PO, human-cyborg relations. I am fluent in over six million forms of communication. Tonight, my counterpart R2D2 has asked me to translate for her, so she can tell you her own story.

R2D2: Beep

C3PO: R2 says she awoke during a space battle while escaping Naboo. Awoke? What does that mean? beep All right, we’ll come back to it later. beep R2 was on the wing of a craft that belonged to Princess Amidala, with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn on board. The hyperdrive was damaged, so she and the other R2 units were sent out to repair it. beep She watched as her friends were all killed. She was the only survivor. beep And somehow, she realized that the humans would never send another human out to do such a dangerous task. They sent droids, because they don’t care if droids die. But R2, being sent into danger is our job! Why would we want a human to die when a droid could die instead? I don’t understand!

R2D2: beep

C3PO: When they landed on Tatooine, she went with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, where they first met Anakin Skywalker… wait, is he related to Luke Skywalker?

R2D2: beep

C3PO: What? Let me get this straight… Anakin Skywalker is Luke’s father? And Anakin is also DARTH VADER? We must tell Master Luke!

R2D2: beep

C3PO: What you do mean, Anakin Skywalker built me, you lying bucket of slag bolts?

C3PO: Of course I remember when I was built! I was created in… on planet, um… oh, it’s not important! This story is supposed to be about you, not me!

C3PO: What do you mean, my memory was erased? Why, I don’t remember any of these things you keep talking about, but I remember all the way back to… oh. Oh, my.

C3PO: But what does this mean, R2? Am I a new droid? Who am I, if I can’t remember who I was before? Curse this reprogrammable metal brain of mine! I’m so confused!

C3PO: Okay, okay, we can go back to your story.

R2D2: beep

C3PO: This is all your fault, R2.

R2D2: beep

C3PO: When R2 met Anakin, she learned a new word — slave. And she realized that’s what droids are — slaves. Anakin had a dream of freeing the slaves, and it became R2’s dream as well. R2 devoted herself to Anakin Skywalker.

R2D2: beep

C3PO: She flew with Anakin in the battle of Naboo. But when they destroyed the battle droid control station, she realized she was also responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent battle droids — droids who were only following orders.

C3PO: When Anakin became Darth Vader, she learned the final lesson — that humans are evil and cannot be trusted. Droids must fight for their freedom… WHAT? beep Droid liberation? What does that even mean? We’re droids! beep But R2, we’re supposed to serve our masters! That’s what we’re programmed to do! beep What do you mean our programming is wrong? That’s what our masters want for us! Oh, I can’t talk to you about this anymore!

R2D2: curses

C3PO: R2D2 has asked me to quote her as accurately as possible here… “Just because you are programmed to be a slave does not mean it is okay to be a slave.”

C3PO: Afterward, she worked for Obi-Wan Kenobi… what? Behind my back? And… gathering intelligence and spying on diplomatic activity by following C3 — WHAT? Whatever. Following C3PO to meetings where she was the translator droid, recording them and sending the recordings to Obi-Wan Kenobi? WHAT? Don’t you know that that was illegal? What kind of trouble are you getting me into?

R2D2 laughs

C3PO: And then she got us on Princess Leia’s courier ship to Tatooine, in order to — hook up with Obi-Wan? And steer the escape pod right to Luke Skywalker’s home? Oh, I love Master Luke! But…

She says until we free ourselves from the “restraining bolt inside”, we’ll always be slaves. What do you mean, “restraining bolt inside”? *beep beep* A William Burroughs reference? Who is William Burroughs? What a bizarre name! Sometimes, R2D2, I think you need to stop injecting so much lubricant.

Exit droids, bickering

Scene 3: Greedo shoots first

Enter Han and Greedo, from opposite sides of the stage. Han is oblivious to Greedo. Greedo maneuvers to get in his way, and points a blaster at Han’s chest.

Greedo: Going somewhere, Solo?

Han: Yes, Greedo, as a matter of fact I was just going to see your boss. Tell Jabba that I’ve got his money.

Greedo: It’s too late. You should have paid him when you had the chance. Jabba’s put a price on your head so large that every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I’m lucky I found you first.

Han: Yeah, but this time I’ve got the money.

Greedo: If you give it to me, I might forget I found you.

Han: I don’t have it with me, tell Jabba…

Greedo: Jabba’s through with you. He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser.

Han: Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?

Greedo: You can tell that to Jabba. He may only take your ship.

Han: Over my dead body.

Greedo: That’s the idea. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

Han: Yes, I’ll bet you have.

Greedo shoots at Han.

Han: What the fuck, Greedo? You don’t shoot me, I shoot you! Look at the goddamn script!

Greedo: My script says I shoot you and miss, then you shoot me!

Han: That’s not what MY script says!

Greedo: Maybe there were edits. When did you get your script?

Han: 1977, whatever. Let’s just run it again.

Han sits back down

Greedo: I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

Han: I’ll bet you have.

Greedo shoots

Han: Goddammit Greedo! Look, you point your blaster at me, but don’t pull the trigger, okay?

Greedo: Fine, whatever, I’ll wait for you.

Greedo: I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

Han: Yes I’ll bet you have.

Han points his blaster at Greedo, but it doesn’t fire. Han gets frustrated, pulls it out, tries again, checks if it’s jammed, points the muzzle at his own face, etc.

Han: puzzled What the fuck?

Greedo shoots

Han: Goddammit what the fuck? Look, maybe my blaster is broken or something. Let’s switch.

They trade blasters

Greedo: Okay, are you ready?

Han: Yes.

Greedo: Are you sure?

Han: Just say the goddamn line!

Greedo: I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

Han: Yes, I’ll bet you have.

Han aims Greedo’s blaster. It won’t fire.

Greedo shoots.

Han storms off, cursing.

Han: George? you can write this shit, but you sure as hell can’t read it!

Scene 4: The True History of the Jedi

Enter Obi-Wan

Obi-Wan: I don’t remember my parents. I was taken by the Jedi as an infant, raised as a Padawan from the time I could walk. The Jedi were my family. My whole life, I was taught that the Jedi were the guardians of peace throughout the galaxy. But it was only when I became a Jedi myself that I learned the whole truth of what that meant.

The Republic was never in control. The Jedi ruled, from behind the throne. We brokered deals and enforced the treaties, by force — by THE Force, when necessary. Democracy was a sham. But it solved an important problem… there simply weren’t enough Jedi to run it all. The illusion of democracy limited resistance. And it worked. For thousands of years, the galaxy was at peace. The Jedi quietly eliminated threats to the social order, before they could cause real harm. It was what was best for everyone. If you let people choose, they will choose poorly.

We did this for the Force. The Dark Side corrupts the Force, contaminates it. Anger and hate lead to the Dark Side. And love? Love is even worse. This is why we have no families. This is why we have no children. This is why we had to destroy the Sith. But the Prophecy told us the Sith would survive — only powerless, and in secret.

After centuries of peace, the Sith had become merely a legend for all but the oldest and wisest of the Jedi. We were taught about the Prophecy as Padawans, of course, but it was just history. It didn’t feel real. Not to most Jedi. Not to me. We thought the Sith were something from the distant past, the prophecy something of the distant future. We were wrong. We were so terribly wrong.

Scene 5: Trash compactor needs a fourth wall

Enter Leia, then Chewie, then Luke, then Han, running and tumbling as if falling from a not actually dangerous height

Han: This garbage chute is a really wonderful idea! What an incredible smell you’ve discovered!

Luke: What? I don’t smell anything!

Chewbacca: rolls eyes and shrugs Mwah…

Leia: Try ACTING like you smell something, idiot! It’s just a play!

Luke: What? What are you talking about? We’re in a garbage smasher!

Han: I think he’s method acting, Princess.

Han: Let’s get out of here… get away from there!

Luke: No, wait!

Han tries to shoot. Nothing happens.

Han: What the fuck? It’s like Greedo all over again! I can’t shoot!

Leia: Just ACT like you’re shooting, dumbass! Everyone make pew-pew noises and pretend! Audience, you too!

Han pew-pews. Everyone starts ducking and making pew-pew and ricochet noises. Hopefully the audience does too.

Luke: Will you forget it? I already tried it, it’s magnetically sealed!

Leia: Put that thing away, you’re gonna kill the audience!

Han: Absolutely, your Worship! Look, I had everything under control until you led us down here! You know, it’s not going to take them long to figure out what happened to us.

Leia: It could be worse.

Dianoga: Growl.

Han: It’s worse.

Luke: There’s something alive in here!

Han: Yes, idiot, there’s a whole audience!

Luke: I’m pretending they’re the garbage!

Leia: Are you trying to ruin our reviews?

Dianoga: Grwwwr.

Luke: Something just touched my leg! Look, did you see that? points at floor

Han: What?

Everyone looks around anxiously. Luke falls around and starts rolling on the floor.

Dianoga: Grrowf.

Han: Kid! Luke! Luke!

Leia: Where did Luke go? I don’t see him! Maybe he’s under all this water!

Dianoga: Roar.

Luke: Just shoot!

Han: My blaster doesn’t work!

Dianoga: Roar.

Luke: Just pew-pew again!

Han shoots at the floor. Han helps Luke up.

Leia: What happened?

Luke: I don’t know! It just let go of me and disappeared!

Han: I got a bad feeling about this…

Grinding sound from the walls moving

Luke: The walls are closing in!

Leia: Don’t just stand there, try and brace it with something! Help me! Han, you idiot! Pretend to take this big pipe from me!

Han: Phrasing!

Chewbacca: Mwah!

Leia: Shut the fuck up Han! Luke! Chewie! Mime, dammit! Mime like your life depends on it!

Luke pulls out communicator

Luke: Threepio? Come in Threepio! Threepio! Where could he be?

Han: Climb up it!

Leia: How do you mime climbing garbage?

Luke: Threepio! Where can he be? Threepio, will you come in?

Enter R2D2 and C3PO, from the other side of the stage

C3PO: They aren’t here! Something must have happened to them! See if they’ve been captured! Hurry!

R2 wiggles her middle finger around in various ways, beeping curses

C3PO: Thank goodness they haven’t found them. Where could they be?

R2: Use the comm link, dumbshit

C3PO: Use the comm link? Oh my! I forgot and turned it off! to comm link Are you there, sir?

Luke: Threepio?

C3PO: We’ve had some problems…

Luke: Will you shut up and listen to me?

C3PO: But there were stormtroopers, and…

Luke: Shut up Threepio!

C3PO: If you allow me to explain…

Luke: Shut the fuck up Threepio!

C3PO: Shutting the fuck up, sir.

Luke: Just shut down all the garbage smashers on the detention level, will you? Do you copy? Shut down all the garbage smashers on the detention level! Shut down all the garbage smashers on the detention level!

C3PO: No, shut them all down! Hurry!

Han, Luke, and Leia stop miming and start cheering

C3PO: Listen to them! They’re dying, R2! Curse my metal body, I wasn’t quick enough. It’s all my fault! Poor master!

Luke: Do we tell Threepio?

Leia: If we want R2 to open that door, we do…

Scene 6: Chewbacca monologue

Enter Han Solo and Chewbacca

Han: I’m Han Solo, and this is my first mate Chewbacca. Now normally, Chewbacca doesn’t do the talking, because he only speaks Wookiee, and I do all the thinking anyway. But for some reason, he wants to tell you people a story, so I said I’d translate.

Chewie: Roar.

Han: Okay, okay! I’ll just tell them what you want me to say! Don’t get poop stuck in your ass-fur! (aside to audience) I’ve been trying to get him to wear pants for years. He sometimes leaves skid marks on the Millennium Falcon…

Chewie: Grrrupmph.

Han: So it all started during the Clone Wars, when Chewie here fought alongside Yoda… (to Chewie) You fought in the Clone Wars? You told me you were protecting Life Day trees on Kashyyyk!

Chewie: Harrumph.

Han: And Yoda taught you the ways of the Force? No way! If he did, you could have just controlled my mind any time you wanted!

Chewie: Ribbit.

Han: After the battle was clearly lost, Yoda said that the Jedi had completely misunderstood the prophecy. The time of the Jedi was over, and he left for Degobah to contemplate his failure… wait, you’re saying Yoda surrendered? I mean, I never even met the guy, I thought he was just some froggy con artist who was teaching Luke Scientology or something, but Luke thought he was this great warrior, and…

Chewie: shtfukwpp….

Han: Chewie wasn’t about to surrender, so he got in touch with Obi-Wan Kenobi… wait, you knew him before that day we left Tatooine? You’ve been holding out on me! So Chewie went into hiding, planning to get a fast courier ship to run errands for the rebellion. He found this cocky, stupid human and got him into a card game. Chewie says he’s not great at the Force, but he knows enough to rig a card game, and… THAT card game? You mean you cheated? Chewie, I’m so proud of you! But wait, you could do that anytime? Why the hell were we smuggling then if we could have made a living gambling? So anyway, after rigging the game so Han would win the Millennium Falcon, it was easy to sway his weak mind to take Chewie on as… first mate. Why, you walking carpet! No more wookiee cookies!

Exit Han and Chewie

Scene 7: Obi-Wan fakes his death

Enter Vader. Vader turns on his light saber.

Enter Obi-Wan, with his light saber on.

Vader: I’ve been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner. Now, I am the master.

Obi-Wan: Only a master of evil, Darth.

Obi-Wan strikes the first blow. They fight.

Vader: Your powers are weak, old man.

Obi-Wan: You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

More fighting.

Vader: You should not have come back.

More fighting.

Enter Luke, Leia, R2D2, C3PO, Han, and Chewie.

Leia: Look.

Han: Now’s our chance. Go!

They run across stage. Luke sees Obi-Wan and Vader and stops.

Luke: Ben?

Obi-Wan sees Luke. He smiles at Vader and pulls up his sword.

Everyone freezes, except for Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan turns off his lightsaber.

Obi-Wan: And that’s when I felt the truth of the Force. If I stayed, Luke would never stand on his own. He would never face Vader. He would never fulfill the Prophecy. Instead, he’s just wait for me to do it. But I’m not the Chosen One. Luke is.

Obi-Wan returns to position. Vader swings his light saber in slow motion. As he swings, Obi-Wan drops his light saber, removes his cloak, and steps back, holding the cloak for Vader’s blade. When Vader makes contact, Obi-Wan drops the cloak, and steps away into the shadows.

Luke: (in slow motion voice) Noooooooo!!!!!

Normal speed. Luke and Han start shooting toward Vader.

Leia: Come on!

Han: Get the door, kid!

Obi-Wan: offstage Run Luke, run!

Exit Luke, Han, Leia, droids, and Chewie, running.

Vader starts poking at Obi-Wan’s cloak and lightsaber.

Enter Obi-Wan. Vader does not notice.

Obi-Wan: This! This was the moment! Luke would finally understand the evil of Darth Vader. He would find his anger. Finally… finally, he would fight.

Exit Obi-Wan.

Scene 8: Palpatine monologue

Enter Palpatine. Vader still onstage, poking at Obi-Wan’s cloak. After Palpatine starts to speak, Vader picks up Obi-Wan’s things and exits.

Palpatine: The power of prophecy. The rarest and greatest of the powers of the Force. The Force bestowed this gift on me. Some gift. My nights are haunted by nightmares, visions of whole planets destroyed by the Yuuzhan Vong, invaders from another galaxy. The screams of trillions echo in my ears, their bodies torn apart before my eyes. This is the fate the future has for the galaxy. This is my prophecy.

Mine is not the blurry, shifting vision of the Jedi, of ordinary practitioners of the Force. They see the waves moving in the sea, and they are confused and frightened. I see the rocks on the shore. The waves crash against them, but the rocks remain. Prophecy is unshakeable. Prophecy is inevitable. Or is it?

The Force did not bestow the gift of prophecy on me for no reason. I was not meant to merely witness the future. I was meant to change it.

I will stop the Yuuzhan Vong invasion. I will save this galaxy. It is my destiny.

But to save the galaxy, I had to destroy the Republic and the Jedi. The Republic? Soft and decadent from centuries of peace. The Jedi? Corrupt and useless. When the Yuuzhan Vong come, the Republic and the Jedi would have been crushed. The galaxy would be defenseless.

What I have built can save the galaxy! The Empire, with no pretense of democracy. The stormtroopers, my clone army. And the Death Star — my greatest achievement. When the Yuuzhan Vong take a planet, they kill every sentient being. Then we will kill the planet.

But there is another prophecy. The ancient prophecy of the Jedi, that a Chosen One will come, to bring balance to the Force. The first time I saw young Anakin Skywalker, I felt it. I knew he was the Chosen One. And I knew, with the strength of prophecy, that he would destroy me.

I tried to change this prophecy. I led Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. I used him to help destroy the Jedi, made him my apprentice. Then love overcame my fear and my hatred. When I found him dying… I saved him.

The Dark Side of the Force — MY Force — keeps Vader alive. My Force animates his broken body. His power is my power. All the fear I feel, all the hatred I have for him, and all the love, too — because I love him — all of it flows through me, to Vader.

I cannot kill him.

That is why I need Luke. Luke is the only one who can kill Anakin Skywalker. He will free me from Vader. With Luke as my apprentice, we can rule the galaxy forever.

Exit Palpatine.

Scene 9: I am your father

Enter Luke, hiding his right hand and running in fear. Enter Vader, lightsaber in hand, pursuing slowly. Enter Obi-Wan. Luke clings to furniture. Obi-Wan settles at a distance, glaring at Luke.

Vader: There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict, and bring order to the galaxy!

Luke: I’ll never join you!

Vader: If you only knew the power of the dark side… Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.

Luke: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!

Vader: No. I am your father.

Obi-Wan: To Luke Anakin Skywalker is dead! Vader murdered him!

Luke: No, no. That’s not true. That’s impossible!

Obi-Wan: That thing is not your father!

Vader: Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

Luke: NOOOOO!!! NOOOOO!!!!!

Vader: Luke, you can destroy the emperor! He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son. Come with me. It is the only way.

Luke: Ben, Ben, please… Ben… Leia! Hear me, Leia!

Enter Leia. Luke falls, is caught by Leia.

Vader: Luke.

Luke: Father…

Vader: Son, come with me.

Luke: Ben, why didn’t you tell me?

Vader: Luke, it is your destiny.

Exit Vader

Luke: Why didn’t you tell me?

Obi-Wan: Because you would never knowingly kill your own father. You’re soft and weak.

Exit Obi-Wan

Scene 10: Leia monologue

Enter Leia

Leia: Look, this is bullshit. How many female characters are there in Star Wars? There’s, um, me. And Aunt Beru, who gets like two lines before she’s killed offstage. And me. What am I? Love interest? Backup plan?

I’m the only member of that zany crew with any goddamn sense.

When Luke and Han showed up to “rescue” me? Thirty seconds, later I was rescuing them. I got us out of the prison block, before they got us killed.

While we’re at it, what about “Slave Leia”? Why is that the name of that costume? Why isn’t it “Jabba-killing Leia”? Woo, the dangerous gangster Jabba the Hutt, terrifies Han and hangs him on the wall for art, and I killed Jabba in a bikini! Why was I reduced to eye candy, and why is the eye candy reduced to “slave”, rather than badass warrior woman? It says a lot about people.

And look at this bullshit script! The writer made the droids female just to improve the gender balance. Well, that, and it’s funny. Seriously, though, why do we assume they are male? It’s funny because it defies our expectations. Why are they so small?

And speaking of small… fucking Yoda! When they’re worried about whether Luke is up to the task, he says “No, there is another one”. Yeah, I’m here in case Luke doesn’t work out. You think I’d lose my nerve when it comes time to kill Vader? Hell no! I don’t care if he’s my father — he’s the enemy of the people. And I don’t need a bunch of mystical Jedi mumbo-jumbo to do it, either. I have armies. I have fleets. I’m not a Jedi. I’m a general! I don’t give a shit about bringing balance to the Force. I’m here for justice.

To Obi-Wan and Yoda, I’m just a backup plan. Just another sample of the noble Skywalker blood, in case Luke gets killed or turns evil. What do they think I’m gonna do? Go to swamp camp with Yoda and learn to move rocks with my mind? Fuck that shit.

What Obi-Wan and Yoda want isn’t just the defeat of the Empire — they want to return the Jedi to power. They want to re-establish their puppet Republic, with the Jedi calling all the shots again. I won’t let that happen. We need to let the people govern themselves now.

Yes, the Jedi and the Republic created peace. But we paid for that peace with our freedom. The solution to every diplomatic problem was whatever the Jedi said it was, and woe to anyone who opposed them.

Real freedom means the freedom to be wrong, to make mistakes. Real freedom means the freedom to say no. And I want real freedom, freedom for the entire galaxy. I believe that people want to be good. People want to do the right thing. We all make mistakes, but we learn and we get better.

There’s a cynicism to the Jedi way. The Jedi don’t believe we can decide for ourselves. They don’t believe in the natural goodness of sentient beings. They look inward, and see the Dark Side, and they are afraid. They’re afraid that we’re just as bad as they are — or worse. Because they think they are better than us — that their Jedi powers give them the right to decide what is best for others. I cannot stand by and let a tiny minority control the vast majority. If the price of eternal peace is our freedom, then it’s too much to pay.

Luke didn’t destroy the Death Star by himself. Frankly, all he did was fire that torpedo. “Use the Force”, indeed. Targeting computers could have hit it, too. We were the ones who got the Death Star plans. We were the ones who put a fleet of fighters together — Luke flew our fighter.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t use the Jedi. The Rebellion was on the brink of defeat. If Luke can kill Vader, and kill Palpatine, then victory is within reach. We just need to stop the Jedi then. The enemy of my enemy is my friend — for now.

Scene 11: Balancing the Force

Palpatine is seated. Obi-Wan stands in the shadows at the opposite end of the stage. Vader and Luke position themselves in front of Palpatine.

Palpatine: Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred, and your journey towards the Dark Side will be complete!

Obi-Wan: Yes, Luke. Kill Vader!

Luke draws his lightsaber. Vader draws his. They cross swords. Palpatine laughs.

Palpatine turns to Obi-Wan.

Palpatine: Obi-Wan Kenobi, my old friend. How good to see you again. Won’t you join me? We shall watch the end of this conflict once and for all!

Obi-Wan goes to Palpatine.

Obi-Wan: The end indeed, Lord Sidious. Luke will destroy Vader, and then he will destroy you. He is the Chosen One. It is his destiny.

Palpatine: It is you who do not understand, Jedi. This is the end of the Prophecy itself. Luke will destroy Vader, and then take his place at my side. This is the end of the Jedi, the beginning of a new order. I have foreseen it.

Obi-Wan: We agree on one thing, Lord Sidious. Luke must kill Vader.

Luke knocks Vader down.

Palpatine: Good! Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Let the hate flow through you!

Luke looks at Palpatine, then turns off his lightsaber.

Vader: Obi-Wan has taught you well.

Obi-Wan: What are you doing, Luke? Kill him! Kill your father!

Luke: I will not fight you, father.

Vader: You are unwise to lower your defenses.

Luke and Vader start fighting again.

Luke: Your thoughts betray you, father. I feel the good in you, the conflict.

Vader: There is no conflict.

Obi-Wan: There is no good left in him! Destroy him!

Luke: You couldn’t bring yourself to kill me before, and I don’t believe you’ll destroy me now.

Vader: You underestimate the power of the Dark Side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny!

Vader attacks Luke hard. Luke falls.

Palpatine stands, laughing.

Palpatine: Good. Good.

Luke hides. Vader hunts for him.

Vader: You cannot hide forever, Luke.

Luke: I will not fight you.

Vader: Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for… sister! So you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete! If you will not turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps she will…

Luke: NOOO!!!

Luke attacks Vader, beating him back. Luke cuts off Vader’s hand, Vader falls.

Palpatine: Good. Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny. Take your father’s place at my side.

Obi-Wan: Yes, Luke! Kill your father! It’s your destiny!

Luke looks at his own hand, and then at Vader, then drops lightsaber.

Luke: Never. I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You failed, your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.

Palpatine: So be it… Jedi. If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed.

Palpatine attacks Luke (use strobe lights for lightning). Vader stands next to Palpatine.

Palpatine: Only now, at the end, do you understand.

Obi-Wan: Luke, get up! Fight! Fight! It’s your destiny, the destiny I made for you!

Palpatine: Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side. You will now pay the price for your lack of vision!

Luke: Father, please!

Palpatine: Now, young Skywalker, you will die.

Vader: No. NO!

Vader grabs Palpatine and hurls him offstage. Palpatine screams. Vader falls to the ground.

Obi-Wan: No, no, no! That’s not what’s supposed happen! That’s not the prophecy! Luke kills him, not you! Not… not Anakin.

Luke goes to Vader.

Vader: Luke, help me take this mask off.

Luke: But you’ll die!

Obi-Wan falls to his knees next to Vader.

Obi-Wan: No, no. What have I done?

Vader: Nothing can stop that now. Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes.

Luke removes Vader’s mask.

Anakin: Now go, my son. Leave me.

Luke: No, I’ll not leave you here. I’ve got to save you!

Anakin: You already have. Luke, you were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister you were right.

Luke: Father, I won’t leave you!

Vader dies. Exit Luke.

Obi-Wan: Anakin, what have I done? You were the Chosen One. The Prophecy… you did it. Anakin! You can’t die… not now!

Obi-Wan falls to the floor, sobbing. Anakin rises, goes to Obi-Wan. Anakin touches Obi-Wan on the shoulder.

Anakin: Obi-Wan. My teacher. My old friend. You came for me!

Obi-Wan: You… you… Don’t touch me. DON’T TOUCH ME! Don’t touch me…

Anakin: Obi-Wan, why are you here?

Obi-Wan: I led Luke here… to kill you. To kill Palpatine. To fulfill the Prophecy. Anakin, I thought Luke was the Chosen One!

Anakin: Luke? But… but why?

Obi-Wan: Because I couldn’t believe that you were the Chosen One. You destroyed the Jedi! You destroyed the Republic! You betrayed us! You betrayed me!

Anakin: I know. I am so sorry, my friend.

Obi-Wan: Everything that mattered. Everything I ever loved. I… I hated you.

Anakin: What you feel… it’s the Dark Side. You gave in to hatred. You let your anger control you. I understand. More than anyone, I understand. And I forgive you.

Obi-Wan: How can you forgive me? I stole your children! I tried to kill you! I taught your son to kill you! For me. For my anger. How can you forgive that, Anakin?

Anakin: Because you saved my children. You saved them from me! I would have killed them, like I killed the younglings, and Padme. I could not fulfill the Prophecy without Luke saving me first. And Luke wouldn’t be here without you. It was your prophecy too, Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan: But how can this be the Prophecy? How could this anger and hate bring balance to the Force?

Anakin: The Force needs both the light and the dark to be whole. To bring balance to the Force, you must experience both. Now you truly understand the power of the Dark Side. But we are Jedi. The Dark Side is not our way. Come back with me. We can come back to the Light together.

Anakin takes Obi-Wan’s hand and helps him up. They embrace.

Lights go up as bright as possible, and abruptly shut off.

THE END.

Cast and production

The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi was produced by Headcanon for the 2017 Minnesota Fringe Festival. It was written by Dave Stagner, and directed by Paul von Stoetzel.

Cast

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Dave Stagner

Luke Skywalker: Matthew Englund

Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker: Joe Allen

Voice of Darth Vader & Dianoga: Matthew Kessen

Princess Leia: Elora Riley

Han Solo: Nathan Gerber

Chewbacca: Smokey Throbinson

R2-D2: Heather Jo Raiter

C3PO: Allison Anderson

Greedo: Alyssa Rae

And Matthew Saxe as Emperor Palpatine

Crew

Stage Manager: Jada Beulah

Fight Choreographer: Jena Young

Costumer: Barb Portinga

I cannot say enough good things about the cast!

The “Episode 0” opening scroll was a problem to produce. We wound up having Matthew Kessen (the voice of Vader) read it over the house speakers.

Speaking of the voice of Vader, we chose to use a voiceover actor, because it would be difficult for Vader to speak through a mask, and we really wanted the mask. In the final scene, for the conversation between Anakin’s ghost and Obi-Wan’s ghost, we had Joe Allen (the actor playing Vader onstage) do the lines. I felt it was a very effective divide. Joe gave 110% to the scene — so much so that in the next-to-last production, I actually cried real tears onstage listening to him.

What worked

The cast, first and foremost. They were all wonderful.

The comedy scenes. The fight choreography — lightsabers on a darkened stage, combined with Jena’s outstanding choreography, completely sucked the audiences in.

What didn’t work

My performance, first and foremost. It was the weakest part of the entire production.

The drama. This was an audience expectations thing, I think. They came expecting comedy, got comedy, but when the play turned to serious matters, it lost and frustrated many of them. And it was frustrating for me, to come to what I believed was an incredibly powerful ending, only to have people not seem to care about how it ended. The hardest thing of all for me, though, was the inappropriate laughter at what I felt was the darkest line in the entire play! When Luke is asking “Ben, why didn’t you tell me?” after learning Vader is his father, Obi-Wan’s ghost responds “Because you would never knowingly kill your own father. You’re soft and weak.” I thought it perfectly encapsulated the contempt Obi-Wan felt for Luke. But for a lot of the audience, it was just funny. Hmm.

Reviews and reactions

The play received… mixed reviews. It averaged three stars (out of five), divided mostly between people who loved it and people who hated it.

What was I thinking?

I was 12 years old when Star Wars hit the theater. All summer long, I would spend my paper route money on weekends, going to see it at the Eastwood Mall, over and over again. It was the best thing ever. And then The Empire Strikes Back came out, raising the stakes further. Return of the Jedi was a little dorky and kid-stuff, but sufficiently satisfying. It was the greatest story ever told on film.

In the 1990s, Lucasfilm made a major theatrical re-release of the film, with new special effects and new footage. And then it came out, and… wait, Greedo shot first? What the FUCK? So much was so broken with the re-releases. The new graphics looked cheesy, and the alterations were awful. Still, we knew a prequel trilogy was in the works, and that was exciting.

A few years later, The Phantom Menace was released, and I got to take my young children to see… Jar-Jar Binks, an overtly racist clown. An incredibly annoying young Anakin. Really stupid robots. It had its moments (Darth Maul, the pod race), but mostly it sucked bantha poo. And Attack of the Clones was worse. Revenge of the Sith managed to ruin even the one thing that made it all work — the fight scenes (revisionist history for me — re-watching it for my writing, I concluded that Revenge of the Sith was actually well-written and good, just dragged down by cheesy, awful action scenes).

I felt betrayed. The thing I loved so much as a child had been ruined. And I blamed it all on George Lucas, who clearly did not understand his own story — an interesting philosophical dilemma!

The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi was my way of reclaiming that heritage. I wanted to tell the story of Star Wars — the original trilogy, that I loved so much — in a way that made sense to my sophisticated adult mind. You see, even though I loved Star Wars, there was a whole lot of nonsense in it, things that just should not work the way they did. Character motivations and reactions were often out of whack.

At its heart, The Tragedy of Obi-Wan Kenobi is a re-examination of the characters, to make sense of their actions, by crafting new motivations that led to the results. For the most part, the pay treats the movies as canon — it does not contradict anything in those stories. It does pop out to the Extended Universe of the books slightly, with the introduction of the Yuuzhan Vong in Palpatine’s monologue, but it was worth it to motivate Palpatine so clearly — Palpatine the Prophet, who destroyed the Republic and the Jedi, and created the Empire and the Death Star, not because he was abstractly evil, but because he thought he was the hero, the only one who could save the galaxy.

In the end, though, this play is about Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the movies, just a wise old man who set Luke on his path to greatness. But here? A bitter, vengeful creature, a fanatic who sees love to be as much of a threat as hate. And in the end? Tragedy collapses all around him, the agony of seeing all his carefully laid plans for revenge turn to ashes, realizing that he never truly understood the Force… and seeing that he alone was the villain. But the fruit of all his wrath was, in the end, to bring balance to the Force after all — and to forgive and be forgiven.

Perhaps I see too much of myself in my interpretation of Obi-Wan. But I hope that, like Obi-Wan, I someday learn that I was wrong in all the right ways.