BWW Interviews: William Shatner Reflects on Career, Creativity, and SHATNER'S WORLD: WE JUST LIVE IN IT
Iconic and Emmy Award winning actor William Shatner will be performing at the Benedum Center on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 7:30 pm. William Shatner’s unique life has been filled with many ups and downs which he describes in his new show, Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It. Pittsburgh Shatner fans can look forward to hearing him describe his life growing up in Montreal, and reflecting on his many acting roles using an assortment of photos and video clips.
Shatner recently took a few moments from his schedule to speak with Broadwayworld.com about his creative career, his involvement with social media, and about what to expect from his upcoming Pittsburgh show.
Shatner's career has been a continual stream of creativity, encompassing everything from acting, writing, directing, producing, spoken musical recitations of well known songs, and more. When asked to reflect on whether he has sometimes consciously chosen projects based on his desire to create interesting things rather than commercial viability, Shatner reflected,
"Well, I don't know how to do anything else. There may be some people that can judge the commercial viability of something, but it seems to me that the things that make money are the things that are unique and are the first of their kind. The repeats, are either not good and don't make money, or if they make money, they're not particularly worthy. I try to do the things that resonate with me because I don't know any other way. And my hope is that if it appeals to me then it will appeal to you."
One great example of a recent project that Shatner, despite the advice of others, undertook because it resonated with him is his new iPhone app, "Shatoetry". The app, which quickly reached #1 status on the iTunes store after its launch, is like a virtual version of refrigerator poetry, allowing users arrange words to compose sentences, statements, phrases, messages, and then Shatner read them back in the way only he can do. Before speaking with Shatner, I thought this was just an example of Shatner capitalizing on his public larger-than-life persona and his well-known pause-filled elocution style. However, after having the chance to speak to Mr. Shatner, it was evident that this new app stems from Shatner's true love of the spoken word and the English language.
"Somebody came into my office and had this idea, and the instant I heard it, I thought, my God, that is a great idea and I've got to do that! And despite the advice of others... I did this app, and we had no idea how it would go. It was astonishing, that as a result of something that moves you, and you go and do it, that it appeals to other people as well."
Shatner's creativity has no boundaries, and in the past, some of his more creative endeavors have been met with mixed reviews; most notably, his earlier spoken word musical performances were received with polarizing "love it" or "just don't get it" views. We asked Mr. Shatner if it is frustrating when some folks just "don't get" what he's all about. After Shatner's initial huge burst of laughter in response to this question, he elaborated,
"That's the story of my life! "I don't GET you!" (more laughter) No, you know....if you're talking specifically about the singing or the talking, that stems from my love of poetry and iambic pentameter and all the musical parts of the English language. So, it was an extension to go to lyrics that were set to music that do the same thing. I love poetry, and if the lyric is lovely poetically, it should work. Most people who want me to extend a note and hold it for any period of time are going to be disappointed, because I can't do it. But what I can do is infuse something with my musicality of poetry, and that's what I'm trying to do."
Attendees of Shatner's World: We Just Live in It will enjoy a musical interlude from Shatner, as well as his many memorable stories that talk a great deal about the effect his role in Star Trek had on his life and career. Shatner also speaks about his love of horses, his philanthropy, his TV shows, his strange encounter with the famous sign language speaking gorilla Koko, and his collaboration with Ben Folds. The 100 minute set allows Shatner to boldly tell his story and reflect on his long, eventful life.
We asked Shatner about his history with the Pittsburgh area, and he indicated that , in addition to spending time at Carnegie Mellon University when doing research for one of his books, and attending at least one ComiCon here, he has also played Pittsburgh on several occasions.
"I'm looking forward to coming there. The [Pittsburgh] audiences have always been spectacular. I'm looking forward to having them visit with me in this theatre. They will enjoy the show! The show has been getting great reviews and great reaction - it's entertaining, it's edifying... I riff on ALL kinds of subjects, from motorcycles, to music, to horses, to love, to death, it's a show that appeals to a lot of people and it's been getting great reaction - and I know it will in Pittsburgh."
Shatner does not exaggerate when he describes the positive reaction to the show. Shatner’s World has been described as a, “chatty, digressive, and often amusing tour of his [Shatner’s] unusual acting career,” by the New York Times, “a fun evening of personal reminiscence, gossip, video clips and old-fashioned humor,” by AM New York and “equal parts endearing and funny – a mixture of two worlds, really: every day and rarefied,” by The Philadelphia Enquirer. Shatner himself has been praised as, “the most confident of performers,” by The Record and “a personality of galactic proportions,” by the New York Post. Shatner’s humor and ability to poke fun at himself, make this show a must-see memoir of a Hollywood veteran’s life.
For information and tickets ($43.00 – $185.00): visit www.Trustarts.org, call (412) 456-6666, or in person: Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue. To purchase 10 or more tickets at discounted rates, please call (412) 471-6930. The performance is a part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents series presented by The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.