Is Live Star Trek Theater an Emerging Trend?

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Maybe you’ve heard of Shakespeare in the Park, where trained professionals perform Shakespeare’s plays in a family-friendly park setting on summer evenings. If you haven’t looked into these, they’re fun; you should grab the kids and go. There’s probably a few performances left in your area, and they’re probably pretty inexpensive.

In Portland, Oregon, in addition to the Shakespeare plays that are most certainly occurring on a regular basis, there’s something else happening on stage at the park. Each August weekend, the Atomic Arts Theater Company performs one classic Star Trek episode live, free of charge.

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Photo by Merrick Monroe

Adam Rosko, who directs the show and plays Kirk, and Jesse Graff, who plays Spock, used to perform Shakespeare in the park until five years ago when they decided to put on the show they wanted to see: A serious, faithful, and well-acted series of live Star Trek episodes.

The show’s been such a hit that Atomic Arts had to find a bigger park. Even with the bigger space at their new Cathedral Park location, good seats are hard to snag unless you arrive hours in advance. The show is so popular that the mayor of Portland even declared July Star Trek Month (nevermind that the performances are now held in August).

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The pre-show crowd at Cathedral Park on Sunday, August 4th. Photo by Julianna Gibbons.

Rosko had a five year plan to produce one episode each year. This is its final year, so naturally, the episode being performed this summer is “Trouble with Tribbles.” Even though Star Trek in the park may have ended for Atomic Arts, the popularity of the show is spurring them on to create something even better. In an interview with Wired, Rosko said that “In the programs, there’s a promise that Atomic Arts will return, and I’m not going to break it.”

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If you happen to be in Portland, you still have time to pack up your kids and lawn chairs and catch one of their 2013 performances of the #1 fan favorite Star Trek episode. If you catch their very last performance on the 24th, you’ll be treated to a post show Double Clicks concert. I’m totally jealous.

The park setting isn’t the only thing Shakespeare and Star Trek have in common; William Shatner is a classically trained Shakespearean.

Where is Live Star Trek Theater Headed?

It seems that the fans are speaking loudly: more live Star Trek, please.

Lucky, lucky London will be treated to a live symphonic rendition of Michale Giacchino’s score of the Star Trek film released in 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness accompanying a special screening of the film.

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There have been many theatrical performances of Star Trek episodes throughout the years, but most are parodies. There was a Star Trek Live show produced by the Kennedy Space Center a few years ago, but its goal was to promote NASA’s educational programs.

Atomic Arts may just be the pioneers who boldly take us into a new era of serious Star Trek Theater.

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