Photo by Nicholas Siegrist

Channel Your Inner Light

Trek Theatre celebrates fifth anniversary with adaptation of classic episode

It’s clear by now that human civilization won’t change its ways to deter the worst-case scenario of climate change. With escalating temperatures and longer droughts, it may be that humanity has run its course.

That’s why Star Trek: The Next Generation’s classic episode “The Inner Light” somewhat foreshadows our future. 

Trek Theatre, Eugene’s volunteer-led sci-fi theatre troupe, takes on what is considered one of the best episodes of the Star Trek series — one fans always request, says Christina Allaback, the production’s director.  

Trek Theatre will celebrate its fifth anniversary by staging an adaptation of “The Inner Light.” The episode has Captain Jean Luc-Picard experience life on the dying planet of Kataan, which is slowly becoming inhabitable due to a drought caused by changing climate from a dying sun. The civilization, however, doesn’t have the technology to leave the planet. 

It’s often easy to draw a line from Star Trek: The Next Generation to universal issues — much like Shakespeare’s work — because the series explores the human condition, Allaback says. 

Trek Theatre has been telling these sorts of stories since 2013. The group kicked it all off with an adaptation of “Tin Man,” which was prefaced with an introduction by sci-fi and TV writer David Bischoff. Bischoff lived in Eugene until his death in March 2018 and wrote the Star Trek episode. 

Aside from that, Trek Theatre doesn’t exactly have the accolades of Shakespearian heavies and Star Trek actors Patrick Stewart and William Shatner. But Allaback says the local actors have passion for the series and the sci-fi genre, and that makes for a compelling performance.

“What I love is that these people love it, and you can feel it,” she says. “These people love Star Trek and sci-fi and really shows in the performance.” 

It’s meaningful work for Allaback, who jokes that she’s finally putting her Theatre degrees to good use by directing the crew of Trek Theatre. 

The production of “The Inner Light” has a shorter running time than the episode, but the coming performance will also include a retrospective of snippets from past shows, Allaback says. 

The troupe’s repertoire branched out from focusing exclusively on Star Trek, with productions such as the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet and a live adaptation of the radio performance that started the franchise of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Allaback says the Trekkies are looking into doing more ambitious projects in the future, like a musical version of the legendary Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Arena,” where Captain James T. Kirk battles a Gorn (a species of badass bipedal reptilians). 

In the meantime, Earth might be going the way of Kataan, so go see the production of “The Inner Light” as a prognosis of our future. Even if humanity dies, perhaps Trump’s Space Force could somehow preserve the memories of our civilization.

If so, I just hope they include “The Inner Light” along with Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos.

Trek Theatre’s “The Inner Light” runs 5- 6 pm Sept. 1 and Sept. 7, and 2 pm Sept. 2 and Sept. 8, at Amazon Community Center, 2700 Hilyard Street. The performance also visits Central City Park, 600 S.W. Madison Avenue, Corvallis, 3-4 pm Sunday, Sept. 16; performances are FREE.