Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Participatory Dedication

But even character growth was the result of many factors and many hands. The key relationship of Kirk, Spock and McCoy had roots in a similar three-way relationship Roddenberry had created for an earlier series pilot, and he found it enabled him to replace the kind of internal dialogue a character might have in a novel with an external debate among thought, emotions and the impulse to act (or Spock, McCoy and Kirk.) But the actual relationships evolved from a few moments in an episode here and there---perhaps some business invented by a director--- that won approval from fans and producers, and that writers began emphasizing in subsequent scripts, and the actors ran with and elaborated in playing these scenes.

This kind of collaboration is not only possible in TV drama, it’s necessary. Theatre actors typically work with one character in one story for the length of a run, and move on. Television actors work their character through many stories. This changes their relationship with each other and with the other people involved in the production. Television drama requires a great deal of collaboration. Because it must be done quickly, week after week, it often rises or falls based on the quality of collaboration and the willingness of individuals to make creative contributions for the good of the whole.

This is where dedication is most important. It might be dedication to the craft, to the story, to the show (and one’s career). It might be dedication to each other, and even dedication to a vision.

When delving into achievements of power and significance it is easy enough to dwell on grand visions and great visionaries. But the shared creation and enacting of a vision is perhaps even more extraordinary, and difficult to describe. It’s much simpler to craft a story about a single artist. But not enough has been said or written about the magic and mystery of a process that blends the talents and dedication of many people over time. As co-creators of the soul of a series, they both serve and help construct the vision that they bring to life. Because they are together so intensively for so long, they often share important moments of their personal lives—the moments that shape and express their own souls. This sharing may then return to become part of the soul of their common project.

Star Trek is remarkable, if not unique, in the collaboration inspired by a vision of the future, and the sense that what the series was attempting was valuable for the world at large, as well as intriguing and interesting to do. Many participants expressed it at the time, and some who travel to conventions and write and do interviews, express it still. It is expressed also in a strange kind of transmutation. Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner admit to being changed by Star Trek, and for the better.

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