ECC trustee responsible for Klingon invasion of campus Saturday, for Christmas
By Mike Danahey email@example.com @DanaheyECN December 4, 2013 4:40PM
vreD (David Coupe) and marja’ (Ali Kidder-Mostrom) prepare to do battle in "A Klingon Christmas Carol." | Photo courtesy of Anne Petersen
Updated: January 6, 2014 12:16PM
ELGIN — The Klingons are coming to Elgin Community College on Saturday, and ECC Trustee Clare Ollayos is the reason the space aliens will be in town this season.
The visitors will appear in “A Klingon Christmas Carol,” a reinterpretation of Charles Dickens’ holiday chestnut told in the language and culture of the imposing warrior race of “Star Trek” fame.
Ollayos said she has seen the Commedia Beauregard company’s production twice in Chicago, including last year. After that performance, as patrons could get their photos taken with cast members, Ollayos used it as an opportunity to pass along contact information for ECC’s director of performing arts, Steve Duchrow.
“My husband and I are not hard-core Trekkies, but we are fans of the show and the movies. And I knew there is a sci-fi audience here in the Elgin area,” Ollayos said.
As Duchrow worked to book the show, he asked Ollayos if she would like to have a walk-on part in it — and if she is allergic to latex.
“I think they are building me a forehead,” Ollayos said.
Ollayos said she will play the Klingon version of Mrs. Fezziwig, the wife of Scrooge’s mentor, and she will deliver her one line — “When we are threatened, we fight” — in the Klingon language.
Ollayos explained that “Star Trek: The Next Generation” had a bit with Klingon Lieutenant Worf claiming Shakespeare’s plays were originally written in Klingon. So the play riffs on idea to include attributing this space race with creating the works of Dickens, with their title for his Christmas classic being “The Legend of the Long Night.”
The Scrooge in this other-worldly version is a coward with no honor who is haunted by the ghost of his business partner who warns of the eternal torment that awaits unless this Scrooge redeems himself.
As with the source material, three spirits visit Scrooge, and there is a Tiny Tim, albeit a puppet one. Unlike the original, the Klingon tale holds combat and time travel, and is narrated by a representative from the Vulcan Institute of Cultural Anthropology, not an Englishman — and comes with subtitles for those who don’t speak a language from a pretend planet.
First in Klingon
Now in its fourth year in Chicago, “A Klingon Christmas Carol” is the first full-length play ever to be performed entirely in the actual Klingon language. This year’s production comes with new “Steampunk Klingon” costumes, too.
Christopher Kidder-Mostrom is the show’s creator who has returned to directing it this year as well. Commedia Beauregard started in St. Paul, Minn., moved to Chicago in 2010 and typically puts on plays translated from other earthly languages into English, he said.
In 2007, the troupe was looking to put on a holiday-time fundraiser. Kidder-Mostrom said one idea was to do “A Christmas Carol” in pig Latin, when a board member joked about doing Dickens in Klingon.
The script was first put together in English and used “The Klingon Way” by Marc Okrand as a guide to the Klingon’s 3,000-word vocabulary, and for a look at the ETs’ customs and proverbs. Kidder-Mostrom and Sasha Walloch wrote the story, then he, Laura Thurston and Bill Hedrick did the translation.
Okrand even looked over the Klingon language version of the script for accuracy, Kidder-Mostrom said. And the company has consulted with “Star Trek”-related clubs, including the IKV Spirit of Honor of the Klingon Assault Group, on the current production.
“There is a ridiculous amount of work involved in putting on this show,” Kidder-Mostrom said.
Lots to rehearse
Aside from learning the language, that involves learning to act and convey expressions while wearing foreheads with ridges, and the physicality of a script that contains no fewer than three big fight scenes.
As such, there are eight weeks of rehearsals, along with language lessons. And Kidder-Mostrom said the Elgin performance will be the only one this year from the company outside of the Raven Theatre Complex in Chicago — while Hugo West Theatricals is mounting a production in Cincinnati.
“Mike Hall from that company is a childhood friend of our former stage manager,” Kidder-Mostrom said. “They wanted to try to do another work in Klingon. It’s hard to do a play in Klingon language, and we suggested they try this one first.”
Commedia Beauregard also sent costumes for the Ohio troupe to use, so it came up with new ones and a new set for its show this year in Chicago.
For her part, Ollayos said she has heard that hard-core “Star Trek” fans who see the play sometimes correct actors on their pronunciations.
Thus, she is studying the guttural dialect of the Klingons from information provided by the company, including a CD with her line on it, by watching episodes of the television series and online video of the holiday stage production.
She also has been asked to dress in black and show up at 6 p.m. to go over her blocking and to get her makeup applied.
Ollayos, a chiropractic physician, said she was involved in theater in high school and college. She also has had character parts in community theater, including the “Magician” in the Lisa Boehm Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker Ballet, a role she portrayed for 30 seasons of its 33-year run at the Hemmens Cultural Center 1970-2002.
“I donated the cape to the Elgin Historical Society, but I am bringing it with to see if I might be able to wear it in this show,” Ollayos said.
A former chair of the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, Ollayos served as co-chair of the grand opening event of the ECC Arts Center in January 1994, “Art a la Carte.” Thus, she sees taking to the stage as a way to celebrate the facility’s 20th anniversary.
For Commedia Beauregard, the show has gained the troupe exposure of all sorts, including putting together a short documentary with scenes from a Klingon “Hamlet” for the Blu-ray edition of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” and performing at a “Star Trek” convention in Rosemont. Kidder-Mostrom said he also has gotten to know people from the various incarnations of the “Star Trek: series because of the play.
Showing her nerdy side, Ollayos even has a suggestion for an alternate title for the play: “Keeping Up With the Cardassians” (a humanoid race from “Star Trek” not to be confused with the Hollywood Kardashians).
Puns aside, the performance at ECC takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Blizzard Theatre. Tickets are $32. For more information, see elgin.edu/vpacevents.aspx.
The show returns to the Raven Theatre Complex, 6157 N. Clark St., Chicago, where it runs Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 28. Tickets are $30 and $20, For more information, see cbtheatre.org.