8 Ways Star Trek and Shakespeare Are, In Fact, Exactly The Same-Reason #7

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So, I’ve been one of the biggest proponents of this belief for about a decade now, and as much as I scream it from the rooftops, no one seems to listen. And though I know I’m not the first to say this…

I’m making it official. Because once it’s posted in a blog, it becomes the truth. You know what I mean? It’s like on that State Farm commercial. “They can’t put anything on the internet that’s not true.” Right? Right?!

Anyway, as the title says, I wholeheartedly believe that two of my all-time favorite things in life are in actuality the exact same thing! (In the vein of Superman/Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne, or Green Arrow/ Oliver Queen)

In this series I am going to list out 8 different reasons why the Genius of Star Trek is really just the Genius of the Bard himself repackaged.

Reason 8 can be found here

Star Trek and Shakespeare #7 – The 5 Act Play

Ok, so everyone knows about this old ditty.

five-act-play

And, you’re probably thinking, “So, what? Every story follows the 5 stages of a plot.”

To this I say, “Yes, mostly, and this concept is taught in every English class and has been since the beginning of time.” (I’m speculating here. I wasn’t there.)

But what I’m talking about is so much more than Exposition to Denouement. What I’m talking about it is a structured design which mirrors one another in both feel and scope. The 5 Acts of both Star Trek and Shakespeare follow a distinct pattern.

 

goals
ACT 1-The Goal is Established

In each and every Shakespeare play, the end goal for the protagonist is always given in the first Act.

 

act1scene4-hamlet-ghost

In Hamlet, his father’s ghost tells him he needs to avenge his death.

In Macbeth, Macbeth and his wife learn that they will become King and Queen.

In King Lear, Cordelia is banished and Regan, Goneril, and Edmund all divulge their intentions for greatness.

In Julius Caesar, Cassius begins his quest to get Brutus to join the conspiracy.

Some Naysayers may claim that this is simply the exposition, but I believe it is more than that. It is not just setting up characters and storylines, but also weaving a realistic story that draws in the audience.

How does Star Trek do this? In two parts actually. First the teaser, then the opening Act. To illustrate my points, let me use two popular episodes.

First, Space Seed from TOS.
 
Here in the teaser the Enterprise discovers a 200 year old Earth vessel with systems oddly still running. After the theme song and the credits, an away team beams over to the ship to discover that the people in cryogenic stasis are still alive, revives one and brings him back to the ship. Obviously, the goal now is for the crew to figure out who these people are.

Second,  Darmok from TNG.
 
Here in the teaser the Enterprise is directed to an uninhabited system by a signal that is an attempt at communication. But when the crew makes contact, Captain Picard is beamed to a planet with the captain from the alien ship and neither can understand each other. After the theme song and credits, Picard and the alien captain begin to survive on the surface and make a break through in communication. The goal: figure out the reason for the signal and find a way to communicate.

 

 

villains

ACT 2-The Villains Gather Enemies

By the second act, the good guys and the bad guys have already been established, sort of, and now it is time for the bad guys to start putting motion to their plans.
 
In Hamlet, Claudius brings in Rosencranz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet.
 
In Macbeth, Macbeth kills Duncan.
 
In King Lear, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund all trick their parents into giving them more power.
 
In Julius Caesar, The conspirators commit to a plan to kill Caesar.

 

Here, once again, detractors to my theory may claim that this is simply the rising action, but nay I say. Focus on the action of the villains; that is which binds these acts.

 

In Star Trek?

Space Seed

Khan begins to turn some of the Kirk’s crew to his side including the Historian McGivers.

Darmok 

Picard hears the roar of an unknown beast and wonders if the other captain knows they are not alone.

 

 

chess
ACT 3-The Villains Make Their Move

In the third act, the bad guys are ready to make good on their plans.
 
In Hamlet, Claudius stops the play within a play telling Hamlet that he did, in fact, kill his brother.
 
In Macbeth, after killing Duncan, Macbeth turns to securing his kingship by killing his good friend Banquo.
 
In King Lear, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund pluck out Gloucester’s eyes while King Lear goes insane.
 
In Julius Caesar, The conspirators kill Caesar.
 
Sure, call this the climax. Say that I’m just saying the same thing in a different way. But you know I’m right. Stop fighting it.
 
Star Trek’s Climax Third Act?

Space Seed

Khan takes over Engineering.

Darmok

The energy beast attacks and nearly kills the alien captain.

 

 
562557-bigthumbnail
ACT 4-The Heroes Are Going To Win

When the fourth act arrives the bad guys have done their thing, but we get to see the light of hope in the darkness.
 
In Hamlet, Hamlet escapes Claudius’ attempt to have him killed in England and returns to take his revenge.
 
In Macbeth, the witches tell Macbeth he will be killed by Macduff, though he doesn’t get it.
 
In King Lear, Cordelia arrives as a Jesus figures and brings back Lear’s sanity meanwhile Edgar prepares to meet Edmund.
 
In Julius Caesar, Caesar’s ghost appears telling Brutus his end will be in Phillipi.

 
At this point, those of you who have been doubting me should start to see that these 5 acts are nothing like that infernal plot map and this act is not the falling action. But if you don’t, all I can say is, “Alas, there will always be haters.”
 
In Star Trek?

Space Seed

Khan holds Kirk hostage by himself.

Darmok

The two captains begin to communicate.

 

 
quote-T_-S_-Eliot-what-we-call-the-beginning-is-often-92063
ACT 5-The End is the Beginning is the End and Lessons Learned

The fifth act. We have reached it. The moment of enlightenment for us and the characters. Here, we find an end to our story, and we are left with a thought to ponder.
 
In Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, all die along with Hamlet, thus he secures his revenge, but he also leave us with the line, “The rest is silence” as a possible answer to his musings about death.
 
In Macbeth, Macduff kills Macbeth setting Malcolm back on the throne, and we learn the idea that “life is a story told by an idiot full of sound and fury,” or something to that effect.
 
In King Lear, Cordelia, Lear, Gloucester, Regan, Goneril, and Edmund all die and Edgar teaches us that we should say what we need to say. (John Mayer, anyone?)
 
In Julius Caesar, Cassius and Brutus commit suicide, and Antony tells us Brutus was noble for killing Caesar in that he was trying to protect the freedom of the people from tyranny. Aww.

 
Now that we have reached the end, if you still think this is just the denouement and the plot map, I don’t know what else to tell you….
 
Star Trek?

Space Seed

Kirk holds a trial for Khan and maroons him on a deserted planet. And Spock’s discussion about planting seeds teaches us that our actions today will have vast consequences in the future.

Darmok

Picard uses this newfound communication to establish diplomatic relations with a new alien species. And though his discussion with Riker with learn that knowledge of the past with help us with the future.
 
Thus we conclude another entry into our study of how Shakespeare and Star Trek are alter egos. (Bizarro world?)

 

 

And just because you made it to the end. Something special for you…

8 Ways Star Trek and Shakespeare Are, In Fact, Exactly The Same- Reason # 8

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GEEK ALERT!

 
So, I’ve been one of the biggest proponents of this belief for about a decade now,and as much as I scream it from the rooftops, no one seems to listen. And though I know I’m not the first to say this…
 

 

 
I’m making it official.
 

Because once it’s posted in a blog, it becomes the truth. You know what I mean? It’s like on that State Farm commercial. “They can’t put anything on the internet that’s not true.” Right? Right?!

Anyway, as the title says, I wholeheartedly believe that two of my all-time favorite things in life are in actuality the exact same thing! (In the vein of Superman/Clark Kent, Batman/Bruce Wayne, or Green Arrow/ Oliver Queen)

In this series I am going to list out 8 different reasons why the Genius of Star Trek is really just the Genius of the Bard himself repackaged.

So, without much ado about nothing, I give you reason number 8:

Star Trek and Shakespeare #8 – Shakespearean Actors in Star Trek

When it comes to actors in Star Trek, most either have their origins in a Shakespearean training or have been a part of a large scale Shakespearean production.
 
Don’t believe me?
 
Well, let’s just start with the two most famous Shakespearean Star Trek actors:

First, the Original Gangster himself Captain James Tiberius Kirk,

also known as the Priceline Negotiator,

Mr. Billy Shatner,

alongside him is the follicly challenged but no less manly X-men saving, moral compass wearing Capt. B.A. Picard

Sir Patrick Stewart
 
Both were official members of the Royal Shakespeare Company and, not surprisingly, became the first two captains of the franchise.
 
Coincidence? I say Nay.

But the list does not stop there. Others you may have seen or heard of include that Klingon dude hard enough to off his own boy Chancellor Gorkon (who just so happens to be played by another Shakesperean actor David Warner) and do it in the name of his people (Julius Caesar anyone?) named General “patch-over-my-eye-even-though-we-live-in-the-23rd-century-and-have-the-technology-to-fix-that-junk” Chang played by RSC member Christopher Plummer.

Just in case my description makes no sense.

Now, if your head is spinning so far, let’s take a head count, that’s Will Shatner,1, Sir Patrick Stewart,2, Christopher Plummer,3, and David Warner,4.

4 Shakespereans and that’s just one movie…. and a captain!
 
Shall we continue?
 
Adding to the list of the distinguished is that Native American Number One hailing from my hometown, Chakotay. Not only is he a seasoned Shakespearean, he even takes the time to teach workshops of the Bard.

IMG_0302

Did you know that that elusive Borg Queen played by Alice Krige was also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company? Yeah, makes so much more sense now, huh?

IMG_0305

The Rest

Now, for the rest of this list. I will focus only on the major characters of the shows and movies. I’m sure there are some actors who have appeared in an episode here or there that have also had a role in a Shakespeare production, and I will have undoubtedly missed them. If so, please add them in the comments below.

TOS

Now, would it amaze you to know that the lovely Nyota “first-kiss-between-a-white-man-and-black-woman-on-tv” Uhura was also a Shakesperean? Yep, played in a 1983 version of Antony and Cleopatra.

 

Almost as odd, Walter Koenig, that wily Russian you just never could trust, played alongside her.

TNG

The beloved Mr. Worf, or as a roommate of mine once affectionately called him, “Ridges,” also played in a Shakespeare production, sort of. It was called Zombeo and Julecula, obviously, a horror version of Romeo and Juliet. Now, though some might scoff at this inclusion as it is in all honesty a stretch, I find it in every way fascinating, so I’m including it. (Plus, it gives me another person to add to my list, so, there!)

Plus Whoopi/Guinan “what-the-crap-is-with-your-hat?” voiced a character in The Lion King which is a very good adaptation of Hamlet. So, bam. Again.

VOY

Let’s also not forget that the unflappable, except for that bun in that year of hell, Capt. Janeway was in many a Shakespeare production onstage. From Othello to Titus Andronicus to Measure for Measure, she is a seasoned pro.

We can’t leave out the great Ethan “how-come-we-never-saw-a-chef-on-a-starship-before-but-his-character-forced-the-prequel-to-add-a-chef-reference-in-just-about-every-episode” Phillips as well.

And of course, continuing the Bardian weight of Voyager, Tuvok “who happened to also exist as a non-Vulcan on the Enterprise-B when the Nexus attacked” was also a Shakesperean.

timrussgen

Reboot

And love it or hate it, let’s not forget our friends from the reboot and the amazing Ben Cross who plays Spock’s daddy. Yep, involved in a number of Shakespearean Stage productions, too!

trek_08

Not to mention everyone’s favorite deep-voiced bad guy, Benedict Cumberbatch, is even set to play the melancholy Dane in an upcoming production of Hamlet.

benedict_as_khan_by_kirara_goes_rawr-d6ga2pk

Let’s face it. He wasn’t as frightening as the original.

Well, there you have it. That’s at least 15 solid connections to Shakespeare throughout the many facets of the Star Trek Universe. Not a bad start to what I believe will be the greatest blog series ever invented by mankind.

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