The Kobayashi Maru Scenario


 Or my Kirkian response to the Who Gives A Sh*t Question

I do read this blog when it’s not my week. Recently, Tiffany Antone raised the all important Who Gives A Sh*t Question. I could also call it, do people really want to see another play about characters sitting in chairs and talking about their issues?

Or I can ask, should I write stuff other people want to see? Should I play to the mob? Or should I challenge audience expectation and possibly never get produced? How do I keep the audience interested? How do I keep myself interested? I’m not interested. I suck. I can’t go on, I shall go on.

The no win cycle of writing new stuff-will the audience dig it-but needing to write it- but no one will get it (I’m paraphrasing) kept repeating in my head.

This led to the inevitable playwriting funk which sent me crawling back to prose-writing while watching movie star interviews on youtube.  

Then I was rescued by basic cable. One night, as I surfing channels, I came upon Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn. Ahah! The Kobayashi Maru Scenario.

In Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn, a Starfleet cadet has to take a simulation test. She is the captain of a starship and receives a distress call from a civilian freighter (called The Kobayashi Maru) in the neutral zone. If the captain goes into the neutral zone, it would mean war with the Klingons. The purpose of simulation is to test the cadet in a no win scenario.

Captain Kirk’s solution to the no win scenario was to reprogram the simulation, so there was a solution. He cheated. But he won.

Maybe the solution to the Who Gives A Sh*t question is not in the answer but in the question itself. Change the question or make the question irrelevant. At the same time, there’s an audience out there in the dark. Show them something.

At the end of Wrath of Kahn, Kirk faced a no win scenario, but Spock saved the day and sacrificed himself (although he came back in Star Trek 3). So another question about the no win scenario, is what will you give up to win? Sometimes, the cost is too high.

Then again, that’s just a movie. And all we’re doing is writing plays. Or are we?

Maybe it’s time to become more Kirkian in the playwriting. Live long and prosper.

3 thoughts on “The Kobayashi Maru Scenario

  1. I think we’re saying the same thing in different way. Maybe the question to ask is simply, what do I want to write today.

    And fear not, any funk cured by Star Trek is not a bad funk.

    Keep asking the interesting questions!

    I am and always shall be your friend.

  2. Oh no! The Who Gives a S*** test is not intended to incite funk! As someone who is familiar with your work, I can say that you absolutely write stuff I want to see/work on… you’re not writing uninteresting/self-masturbatory stuff that no one cares about 🙂 You write exciting stuff!

    I think I ask the question in order to ask the playwright – “Will anyone come see this?” – as a means of trying to pre-empt a “Why won’t anyone produce my play” woe that many playwrights face. Granted, this woe can be the result of several things ( No one knows you yet, your show is too expensive to produce, etc) that are unrelated to whether or not anyone gives a shit about the material… but making sure you’re writing something that someone besides yourself will respond to is a first step…

    Then again, it’s also just an opinion 🙂

    And sci-fi nerdness alert – in the new Start Trek, they cleverly show that young Kirk Kobayashi Muru scene and I loves it!

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