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Trek In The Park: It's Like Shakespeare, But With Flying Kicks

Trek In The Park: It's Like Shakespeare, But With Flying Kicks

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PORTLAND - Since the days of William Shakespeare, theater-goers have enjoyed outdoor performances of classic drama. This summer, Shakespeare in the Park is drawing crowds from Seattle to Boise. But in Portland, a local theater company is taking this old tradition into the 23rd century. Deena Prichep explains.

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It's a hot Saturday night in Woodlawn Park, and several hundred people are spilling out of an outdoor amphitheater. As soon as the play starts, it becomes clear that this is not going to be the usual highbrow summer offering. This is theater with a different mission.

Adam Rosko as Captain Kirk: “To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before (applause)”.

This is Trek in the Park. For the second year in a row, a local theater company presents a live performance of classic Star Trek. This summer's episode is “Space Seed,” where we meet the alluring villain, Khan.

Ryan Castro as Kahn: “I caution you, such men dare take what they want!”

Like the series that inspired it, this production is undeniably low budget. The props are minimal, the speakers fuzz out a bit during the opening song, and the costumes were sewn by Captain Kirk's mother. But the actors are totally serious. Take Jesse Graff, who plays Mr. Spock. He met Leonard Nimoy earlier this year:

Jesse Graff: “He signed my arm, I drove home, went to the tattoo parlor and got it tattooed that night.”

Did you hear that? He has Leonard Nimoy's signature tattooed on his arm.

Jesse Graff: “And I regret nothing.”

Graff isn't alone in his enthusiasm for Star Trek. Despite 90 degree temperatures, the performance is packed. Joshua Oliver is back to see Trek in the Park for the second year in a row.

Joshua Oliver: “It's high drama, I don't think that Shakespeare could have written anything better. (laughs) In fact, if Shakespeare were writing today, he'd probably be writing for the producers of Star Trek.”

Shakespeare scholars might not agree. The bard's fight scenes didn't exactly include Vulcan nerve pinches and flying kicks. But really, they're pretty great.

Sound: Fight scene and music

Adam Rosko plays Captain Kirk, and founded the production company with his sister. He also sees echoes of Shakespeare, and thinks that's why the show has such wide appeal. For all the space travel and minidresses, these are pretty timeless themes:

Adam Rosko: “There's always the mistaken identity story, there's always so-and-so's in love with that person, but they're betrothed to the other person. And it's fun.”

And in the end, and like any classic performance, Trek in the Park leaves the audience wanting more.

Adam Rosco: “Join us next summer, because the voyage continues!” (applause)

072710DP_Trek2.jpg: “Adam Rosko plays Captain Kirk and Jesse Graff plays Mr. Spock in Trek in the Park. Photo by Ethan Jewett.”]

072710DP_Trek3.jpg: “Jesse Graff plays Mr. Spock in Trek in the Park. Photo by Ethan Jewett.”]

072710DP_Trek4.jpg: “Jesse Graff, who plays Mr. Spock in Trek in the Park, had Leonard Nemoy's autograph tattooed to his arm. Photo by Ethan Jewett.”]

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