Monday, November 11, 2013

Voyager: Muse

Some of my very first memories are of my mother--on stage. I was born when she was in college. She was a theatre major and would go on to be a drama teacher, writer, and director. But, when I was a kid, she was Guinevere. She was Cassandra. She was Antigone:

Thanks to my mom, I was raised backstage and I loved it every minute of it. I developed an appreciation of live theatre before I could read. Watching my mother (from the sofa, from the rehearsal hall floor, from the audience) argue for a citizen's right to civil disobedience made an impression on me. I got, over the course of my entire childhood, that art, theatre, and stories make a difference.

I thought about that a lot as I was watching Voyager's sixth season episode, Muse. In this one, B'Elanna crashes the shuttle onto a planet inhabited by an Bronze Age culture and is found by a playwright--Kelis. Kelis believes B'Elanna to be an "Eternal" and uses her stories about Voyager to create plays (performed with a Greek-style chorus) for his patron. Through the course of his working relationship with B'Elanna, he realizes that his plays can serve to do more than entertain--they can inspire. He hopes that his stories of Voyager will inspire his patron to stay out of a deadly war.

The entire episode is pretty meta. It even features an exchange about how to play a Vulcan and whether an audience member could grasp the inner turmoil of a Vulcan's mind if he doesn't outwardly show emotion. Watching the play within Muse is like watching an episode of Star Trek--if Star Trek had been written in 400 BC. Kelis' optimistic message of peaceful resolution and his hope of positively influencing the audience couldn't be more Trek.

Star Trek isn't Sophocles but I would argue that it serves the same purpose. Antigone was meant to entertain and inspire, to teach and make the audience think. And isn't that exactly what Star Trek has done for forty years and hopefully (like any good Greek tragedy) will continue to do for long time yet?

1 comment:

  1. Oh yeah I agree Star Trek has been making us think and has been inspiring me for as long as I have watched it to be a better person.


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