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Primitive Culture: A Star Trek History and Culture Podcast

Nov 22, 2018

Star Trek and Repertory Theatre.

Compared with other science fiction shows, Star Trek has always been remarkably versatile, capable of rapidly switching genres, from romantic comedy one week to courtroom drama the next. For the actors hired to play given roles—sometimes for seven years or more—a similar versatility is required. This is perhaps most striking when they are called on to portray a character who other than the one to which their name is tied in the credits. This could be an ancestor, a Holodeck invention, a counterpart from the Mirror Universe, or even a dreamworld alter-ego such as Benny Russell. But for British actors of a certain vintage—Patrick Stewart among them—these challenges are nothing new. Thanks to the traditional repertory system, which would see a cast of players perform a completely new show every week, from Shakespeare to Noel Coward and beyond, these actors are always ready to step into another skin.

In this special Primitive Culture roundtable, recorded during the Destination Star Trek convention in Birmingham, UK, hosts Duncan Barrett and Clara Cook are joined by guests old and new to discuss the parallels between Star Trek and the old repertory system. We discuss the peculiar challenges faced by Star Trek actors and why the shows have traditionally favored those with a background in theatre, and share some of our own favorite episodes in which the regular cast take on new roles.

Intro (00:00:00)
The Repertory System (00:02:54)
Top Picks (00:05:54)
“Bad” Acting (00:11:15)
Ancestors and Relatives (00:15:06)
Distortions and Alternates (00:18:35)
Non-Actors and Immersive Theatre (00:20:15)
Writing for the Cast (00:27:00)
Flashbacks and Flashforwards (00:29:30)
Double and Triple Threats (00:31:15)
Genre Benders (00:32:15)
Final Thoughts (00:34:17)

Duncan Barrett and Clara Cook

Tony Black, Tony Robinson, Lee Hutchison, Rob Chapman, Rick Everson

Clara Cook (Editor) Duncan Barrett (Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Tony Black (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)