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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

The Hero’s Journey- Return with the Elixir

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the-hero_s-journey

Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

Last time we delved into The Flight, today it’s all about our last stage Return with the Elixir.

Return with the Elixir

The flight has ended, the journey is done. It’s time to relax, the war is won.

Or is it?

Just like the title says, the hero returns with his prize from the journey. The prize can be a literal, tangible object, or skills acquired. But as the journey comes to a close, there are two basic ways the Hero’s Journey ends.

 

Medals and Party

In this final stage, the protagonist has reached the end of the journey. He/she has become a hero. He/she has saved the world from certain doom. The hero should be celebrated. Laurels need to be given. Wine needs to be drunk. In other words: party!

And very often the heroes will celebrate the victory. They will enjoy their accomplishments and mourn their losses.

Take for instance Star Wars. (A New Hope or Return of the Jedi). In both examples the Death Star has been destroyed, certain doom has been avoided, awards are given and a party is thrown.

pjGjf 4518

And as happens so often in Disney movies: they live happily ever after.

But at the end of the Hero’s Journey, this isn’t always the case.

 

Another Journey Begins

Sometimes the hero cannot leave the World of Adventure and gets swept away onto another fantastic journey. Sometimes the journey never ends. Sometimes the ending is just the beginning.

Remember Batman or Iron Man or Spiderman or Superman or really any other superhero out there? Remember how there is always another villain to conquer and plot to foil? Yeah, it’s basically like that.

Superheroes

The hero will live his/her life vanquishing foes and saving the world constantly reliving the Hero’s Journey.

 

And there we have it. The Hero’s Journey in tiny, bite site, easy to swallow chunks. I do so hope this series has been helpful and insightful. I hope it has brought a smile to your face, aided with a term paper, helped informed your teaching, or simply enlightened your day.

Until next time,
Peace and Long Reads

Justin

The Hero’s Journey- Flight

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the-hero_s-journey

Intellectual Credit Joseph Campbell

Last time we delved into The Supreme Ordeal, today it’s all about the Flight.

Flight

Okay, so the hero has defeated the enemy (or at least escaped unscathed, well maybe scathed, but he/she is definitely still alive.) Great, but what’s next?

Now, it’s time to run. Run like heck. Run like he/she has never run before and never look back. Chances are the hero is being pursued most likely by someone or something really big, really mean, and with one agenda, to kill him/her.

The goal is one fold: Get back to Common Day.

It’s like there is this idea that common day is safe. (Oh yeah, because it is.) And if the hero can just cross that Threshold, everything will be all right.

 

But it can NEVER be as simple as that can it? Of course not! We’re talking about heroes here!

 

So to understand the stage of Flight, it is necessary to understand that all important Threshold Crossing, that moment that is supposed to bring joy and peace and happiness and ever after.

What You Need to Know:

Threshold Struggle

There will be another threshold struggle that the hero must undergo. After all, he/she didn’t get into this world without a fight, so what makes them think they can get out so easily. Oh, they’re heroes now? Big, strong saviors of the world? Well, that just means that their struggle will be that much harder, multiplied exponentially.

Four ways this will be played out in what we in the biz call The Road Back: (And by the biz, I really just mean me at me keyboard…)

1. The Return

scouring

One of the greatest examples of a Return appears in the Lord of the Rings (novel version). The films had to cut this scene due to the 50 endings already in the movie. (Even though when the hobbits return to the Shire the events that transpire are absolutely critical to one of the themes in the story and by not including it they nearly destroyed the entire brilliance of the epic reducing it to a minor farce, nearly.)

But that is a rant for another day.

Instead, what I’m referring to is the all important “Scouring of the Shire”. For those who haven’t read it, when the four hobbits return to their eutopic Shire after saving Middle-Earth, they find that it is over run by Saruman and evil men. They then lead a force to expel Saruman and the men from the Shire thus saving their paradise. Thus in the midst of their Return, they must once and for all fight an enemy to ensure their safety.

 

2. Resurrection

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What can be better than an example from Lord of the Rings? One from Disney of course! One of the best, and my personal favorite, of the Disney Princess movies is Beauty and the Beast. In here we have a glorious example of a resurrection.

Okay, take yourself back to that moment. Gaston has just stabbed the beast, and now Beast throws his sorry behind off the castle roof. Belle sees Beast is hurt. Beast is dying. Belle is crying. Beast is dead.

 

“What the crap?! I thought Disney movies were love stories! Man, I hate this movie!” Says my 6 year old self, and yours too.

But wait. What’s this? Belle says she loves him before the rose pedal hits the floor and BOOM! Evil magic undone, Beast is now a handsome BEAST, and they live? H.E.A. That’s right. He came back from the dead. No way! (But then again, this happens often in Disney doesn’t it? It’s like they have a resurrection complex.)

 

3. Rescue

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Also known as Deus Ex Machina in Latin for Cop Out (I mean God from the Machine), a Rescue is the moment when all is lost then Whoa! (like Joey form Blossom) everything gets fixed. One of the best examples is Superman the Movie (1978). Okay, full disclosure, I love me some Supes. And Christopher Reeves Supes is iconic. BUT, you have to scratch your head at the ending. So, there’s this horrific earthquake, Lois dies and all is lost. But wait. If Superman flies fast enough in outer space, he can reverse the Earth’s rotation? (Nevermind the gravitational forces and tide issues this can cause.) But besides all that, reversing the Earth’s rotation can reverse time!? Oh man! Talk about a cop out awesome ending or in other words, a Rescue! God comes down (or flies up?) at the last moment and saves everyone.

And if you don’t like Supes, then what about the Eagles in Lord of the Rings? See, it’s always a good example.

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4. Refusal of Return

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Sometimes the new World of Adventure is so exciting and changes the hero so much that he/she cannot return. Such is the case with Coach Bombay in The Mighty Ducks.

For those who can’t remember my childhood coaching idol, Gordon Bombay, his journey started as a star lawyer in a high priced law firm, Ducksworth and Assoc. When he gets arrested for drunk driving, he is sentenced to coach an ailing pee wee hockey team, District 5. (A sport which we know from the opening credits that he was really good at playing as a kid.) Antics ensue, a love interest is formed, and Gordon fights against being in his new world.

Then towards the end before the big game against his old coach and rival, Bombay is given the opportunity to leave the coaching world and return to the law firm. But Gordon doesn’t take it. Instead, he gives his old boss and namesake of the Mighty Ducks a very inspiring lecture about what being a part of a team means.

“You may have paid for that jersey, sir, but you didn’t earn it,” says he to Ducksworth. (Of course after having repeatedly quacked at him.)

 

And for those of you who question whether Gordon Bombay can be included in the list of heroes, consider this:

(Special thanks to Jose Mendoza at instagram @greenzombify)

 

Next time we will discuss the final stage of the Hero’s Journey in The Return With The Elixir.

Until then,
Peace and Long Reads

Justin

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