Multi-talented actor William Shatner, 80, touring in a one-man show, “Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It,” stopped by the Palace Theater in Columbus, Ohio, Sunday, April 15, and, for almost two hours, his world and mine closely overlapped.
Knitting humor, reminiscence, and personal insights gained over a lifetime, Shatner spoke with love and appreciation for his life in the arts and beyond and the many people and events that have shaped his world.
Self-effacing and often tongue-in-cheek, Shatner, with great command of a voice long-trained in performance and with roots in Shakespearean theater, addressed important topics such as the origin of his–sometimes–halting way–of talking–and his coming to terms with being best known for, or at least frequently identified with, his role as James T. Kirk, captain of the USS Enterprise, in the television (then then movie) series, Star Trek.
As Shatner stitched together a series of life stories, a familiar refrain emerged like a drumbeat: “And I said, Yes!”
Early in his career, Shatner declined an opportunity to become part of the inaugural troupe of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada. When invited again the second year, he said “Yes!” thus beginning his career as a Shakespearean actor and, for the man behind the characters, lifting a self-limiting psychological veil of “No” to open a world of possibilities.
It’s how those possibilities played out that made “Shatner’s World” (the life and the stage production). And, while saying “yes” did not always yield equally favorable results, this orientation to the possible provided opportunity and, it seems, became the basis for the ever-expanding universe of “Shatner’s world.”
Saying yes is not a panacea, of course. Yes does not eliminate risk, assure success, or guarantee outcomes, but it does open doors. And, while not appropriate in every situation, I don’t know how to take an action without saying Yes.
Turning his thoughts to deeper topics of life, death, and the meaning of both, Shatner comically demanded answers from death. No direct answers were forthcoming from “the undiscovered country/from whose bourn no traveler returns,” but, as a proxy, Shatner offered the power of love, life, and of saying Yes, authentically, to both.
What will you say Yes to today?