Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beam me up, Shakespeare

My acting teacher once said that Shakespeare is like Star Trek. Ok not literally, but in the mindset. Think about it. In Shakespeare's time, the world was an infinite space as all the sea faring nations rushed to explore beyond the horizon and fill in the blank spaces on the map. There was room for adventure that would lead you to exotic new lands, uncharted waters, bizarre animal species, beautiful and dangerous new geography, and most importantly, strange new people. Hmmm, sounds familiar. To quote Miranda in The Tempest: "O brave new world: that hath such people in't."

We don't understand that today. We have satellites to track everything. We have communication devices that allow us to talk to people on the other side of the world instantaneously. We don't have the same wide-eyed wonderment at the horizon.

But we wish we could with the stars. Space holds the infinite possibilities that the Elizabethans and Jacobeans wondered at. We don't have the ability to explore the far reaches of the galaxy now, but our imaginations do. We all know countless number of Science Fiction books and movies. Star Trek is perhaps most famous for its spirit of exploration into the universe. The Original Series and Next Generation both featured the U.S.S. Enterprise whose commission was to "seek out new life and new civilization. To boldly go where no on has gone before." Sound familiar.

It is that kind of audacious zeal and adventurous spirit that must come through in and Shakespearean performance. And it is no wonder that the crews of the Enterprise have featured many classical actors: William Shatner, Leonard Nemoy, Patrick Stewart, and Avery Brooks just to name a few. Even one of the feature films title was a quote from Hamlet: Star Trek VI, The Undiscovered Country and featured a Klingon who insisted that Shakespeare is better "in the original Klingon."

Almost four hundred years ago, Shakespeare only wondered at the exploration of the oceans. Could he have dreamed that in the future there would be other "theatre" where actors pretended to explore the stars in a class of starships named after his heroine of The Tempest?

Addition on May 7, 2009: Klingon Opera

Happy Birthday: Garrison Keillor (b. 1942)

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