Over the Weekend: Klingons, Churches and Coulton (Oh My)

So, a Klingon, a minister, and a a musician walk into a bar. Bartender says, "What is this, a joke?" No, says the journalist (I left him out of the lead-in on purpose) -- it's the weekend in the Twin Cities.

This is the first of a series of Monday morning posts we'll be doing; we'll offer capsules, coverage, multimedia and such centered around 3-5 things that happened from Friday evening through the wee hours of Sunday night. The Internet doesn't sleep, folks, and neither do I.

We begin with a show that Commedia Beauregard Artistic Director Christopher Kidder promised the audience "would be like no other," and boy, did it deliver.

A KLINGON CHRISTMAS CAROL AT THE U OF M-ST. PAUL STUDENT CENTER
I'm of a rare breed, that tribe that walks the middle path on Star Trek. I'm enjoy it as a mild fan, and know most of the major stuff, but I don't -- say -- spend my nights boning up on Romulan culture or Vulan political history. This makes me in some ways the ideal audience experiment for a show like "A Klingon Christmas Carol," which brings the Dickens classic into the world of aggro aliens with forehead rivulets.

Let me say this: I think it would have been funny (if a bit surreal) even if I'd never heard of Star Trek. The bizarre bits of outer space mythos serve as the play's spice, but the clever dialogue and plotting makes this parody an enjoyable twist regardless of whether you have a strong opinion on Kirk vs. Picard.


Grab the disruptors and hide the blood wine, Commedia Beauregarde is in town.

The show was performed almost entirely in the Klingon language (which, as Kidder noted in a pre-show speech, involves quite a bit of involuntary expectoration; "You brought raincoats, right?" he asked me and the other people shortsighted enough to sit in the front row). I was foolish enough to study French and Japanese rather than this play's lingua franca, but concessions were offered -- a screen with English subtitles and a Vulcan narrator who appears throughout.

In this variant, SQuja' (Scrooge) is still a money-grubber, but it's his cowardice rather than his avarice that defines him. Instead of wanting his uncle to feast with him, nephew vreD (Fred) wants ol' SQuja' to show up at the homestead and fight. Tiny Tim (in Klingon parlance, tImHom) is still sickly, but here SQuja' is the bad guy because he won't let QachIt (the Bob Cratchit character) off work to train his son to fight.

Does SQuja' wear the sash of a true warrior by the end of the play? Or will no Klingon sing out a death howl when he dies? Well, you've seen the original, so you can probably guess. You know you want to hear how the language sounds, though, and we aim to please here at The Pages. So here's a brief burst of Klingon from the show to start you off. For a second helping, you can listen to SQuja's paramour, bel, explain that she fell in love with a Klingon, not a Ferengi.

It's funny because Ferengis are money-grubbing, and ... ah, you picked that up from context.

BENEFIT CD RECORDING AT KWANZAA COMMUNITY CHURCH

From the offbeat to the sublime, we travel from the Federation to North Minneapolis, where Kwanzaa Community Church is working to tackling the growing problem of HIV/AIDS in the African American community. Shockingly, Pastor Alika Galloway told me, AIDS has become the No. 1 killer of black women aged 25-44. "But the good news is," she noted, "it can be prevented. Diseases like cancer have a genetic component -- this doesn't. We can stop it."

To help make this happen, the church invited community members to join with the church's spectacular choir in live recording of a CD, "Love Songs For Those Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS." All proceeds will go to the church's outreach work aimed at preventing the disease.

You can see our photo slideshow of the event and hear some of the sounds by watching the video below. But the recording I was able to get doesn't do the jaw-dropping live sound justice. Who knew "Jesus Loves Me" could be so soulful (pun fully intended)?

AT JONATHAN COULTON: ENTER SANDMAN

Jonathan Coulton's show the other night was terrific, and for his part, Coulton himself thinks we're a heck of an audience. Author and comics legend Neil Gaiman was in attendance to hear the voice behind the "Thing a Week" podcast as well. Speaking of Gaiman, the author of "Sandman" and "American Gods" also served as one of the keynotes for the U of M's "Fantasy Matters" conference some weeks back.

Winter doesn't stop the written and performing arts, and thank goodness for that.



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