Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
It was a beautiful non-rainy day in Portland Oregon. There are thousands of people milling around in a large park. Next to me is the Genius Loci of Portland. My psychological manifestation of the town that I love. Today she is wearing a classic red Star Trek mini dress, her ears are adorned with plastic pointy Spock ears.
“Uh…uh…” I said trying to get her attention.
Mistaking my concern for disapproval she turns to me. “What Dave, you don’t like the original Show? Maybe you are Next Gen fan? Or maybe you don’t approve of cos play. Or are you just against geek girls in general?”
“It’s not that.” I tried to explain sheepishly. “It is you know, the color.”
She looked down at her 60’s style futuristic dress. I see on her face that she remembers the legacy of the redshirts. “Oh yeah.” She waves her hand and the dress suddenly turns science blue. With a smile she then adds. “Matches my eyes better anyways.”
For a long time people thought I hated Shakespeare, just because I didn’t like Romeo and Juliet. But the truth is I love Shakespeare. Othello is prophetic and five hundred years ahead of its time, when it comes to race relations. Macbeth should be made in to a summer block buster it has wars, witches and madness. And I laugh my head off every time I see Midsummers Night Dream. But there is something about watching Shakespeare in a park that makes even an only decent performance rock. I just love the vibe you get watching the Bard’s work in an outdoor venue and that goes for Trek too.
In 2008 Atomic Arts began doing Trek in the Park. That is exactly what it says on the tin. A bunch of thespians acting out original Star Trek episodes in a fetching park. This is where you say “only in Portland” with either impressed awe, or shaking your head in disdain.
They did five classic episodes. Amok Time (Spock gets jiggy and fights Kirk), Space Seed (Khannnn!!!!!), Mirror Mirror, (Alternative universe where women wear even more sexy uniforms than the main timeline), Journey to Babble (Pig faced aliens and Spock confronts his daddy issues), and trouble With Tribbles (Hey David Gerald when are we getting another War with the Chtorr novels?)
The props in some ways minimalistic just like it is when they do Willy in the Park. But then again Star Trek hasn’t been about high tech since ST:TMP. Trek is about getting together with people whose company you like and watching people you care about. And this gives you a brand new way to do it. Live and in 3D. Sure a great actor can emote and you can perceive their emotions but when you watch a live performance there is an empathy that you lose watching a film.
This is all about people who love what they are doing being watch by people who love the source material. There is a shared zeitgeist throughout the crowd. As a bonus to the crowd, Garret Wang who played harry Kim on voyager even made a cameo in one of the showings of Trouble with Tribbles.
Now this where you hate me. After getting you all excited about the performances, I tell you that it is over. Sorry, but like the Enterprise’s original mission, it only lasted for five years and the last one was in 2013. Honestly it bums me out too.
So let me leave you with some cool Portland sci-fi related things that are still going on. The Portland area has always been a bastion for science fiction and comic book writers, from Greg Rucka, to the classics like Ursula Le Guin and Frank Herbert. As such we are always having authors doing signings. Things From Another World both in Portland and nearby Milwaukie, have signings of both rising stars and established names. As does Powell’s, next moth they will have on July 12th Ian Doscher, reading from his book, William shakespear’s the Jedi Doth Return, at their Cedar Hills Crossing store. And on July 13th at their main store on Burnside they will host Terry Brooks, of Shanarna and D&D novel fame.
For the Cthulhu Mythos fans we have The HP Lovecraft Film festival each year. This is more than a film festival but basically a horror con. Speaking of the Old Man from Providence we have a Lovecraft bar/dance club aptly called Lovecraft. As well as the Tardis Bar a Dr. Who themed pub.
And many of our theaters run classic sci-fi films. Recently the Hollywood ran as a double feature both the first of the original Battlestar Galatica episode but also the 80’s Buck Rodgers episode that guess stared Garry Coleman, yup we are geeks.
As we walk away from the last showing of trek in the Park, I am a bit wistful, sure it was great and all, but I am going to miss it. “Don’t worry Dave.” The Genius Loci explains. “Something else will come to replace it…” Then with her pointy ears and a sly smile she adds. “It is only logical.’