William Shatner Karaoke

Actor, thinker, dreamer, man. William Shatner is a lot of things. Primarily though we at Forest Fringe like to think of him as a re-imagineer.

Shatner has, to a degree, created his own artform. He takes mere songs and makes them into theatre; into sad-eyed, weary-voiced, heartbreaking theatre. With just a puff of a cigarette and a achingly long gaze into the camera, Shatner has the power to transform any popular song into the tragic story of a Canadian everyman beaten down by love, loneliness and the crushing excesses of contemporary urban society.

Take for example Elton John’s Rocket Man. A good song initially, if a little, you know, Elton John-y. There’s also a perfectly decent version by Kate Bush. However there is no doubt in my mind that the following Shatner take on this tale of space travel and broken families is undoubtedly the definitive version, all crumpled tuxedo and suspicious smelling cigarettes:

All you need do is take a brief glimpse into the eyes of Bernie Taupin to know that truly he is seeing his words truly honoured for the very first time.

And then there is Harry Chapin’s seminal tale of failed dreams and lost loves Taxi, here again given the inimitable Shatner treatment:

Just look. Look at that half-glimmer of a smile playing gently on his lips, that constellation of twinkles glittering in his eyes. This. Is. Monologuing. When you need five minutes of top drawer Acting, Shatner has to be your man anytime. As you watch him cantering comfortably into his stride one can’t help but shake one’s head and think ‘good lord, this man could Act anything…’

Of course the Shat wasn’t the first to transform the narrative pop song into monologue – here for example is Frank Converse performing Paul McCartney’s She’s Leaving Home way back in 1967.

Shatner however has undoubtedly made the form his own.

What’s that? Oh… I believe that’s the sound of Jarvis Cocker being PWNED… (and yes, that was Ben Folds on the keyboards)

So in honour of Canada’s finest ever export my fellow Director Debbie Pearson has wonderfully created William Shatner Karaoke. The premise is simple:

1) Each person who wants to play must choose a popular narrative pop song.
2) They will then perform this pop song to Camera and in front of an audience as a dramatic monologue, either in the style of Shatner himself or in one of their own choosing (potentially a whimsically northern Alan Bennett style talking head…)
3) This monologue will be both recorded for the Shatner vaults and projected live for everyone else to see in all its glory.
4) The longer you can go without someone realising what the song is, the better.
5) The moment you corpse, your turn is over. Shatner never corpses.

So that’s its. We’ll be playing an almost unnecessary amount of William Shatner Karaoke at our Goodbye Event on the 19th August (a day of sharings, music and other as-yet-unplanned and uncreated events that will be formed during the festival) so do come along with a monologue prepared. Don’t do it for us. By God, do it for Shatner.


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