A quartet of core members of the locally based Trek Theater has invited me to an online discussion on Zoom. The launch topic is the Star Trek–focused troupe’s approaching 10th anniversary.
“We want to do something that is a little bit bigger and more exciting than what we’ve done before,” says Nicole Malinoff, the troupe’s artistic director. “It’s the 10th anniversary and we want to mark that with something cool.”
Trek Theater was born out of group chats on the social news app Reddit. The earliest performances were small-scale productions staged inside a handful of tiny local venues. “We had to really be creative,” recalls troupe member Michael Hanson, “and scramble for space.” A few current troupe members were involved in those initial performances, when ambitions for larger, more sophisticated outdoor productions first emerged.
That’s also when the Covid pandemic forged landmark changes for Trek Theater.
“Trek Theater takes the pandemic very seriously,” offers Chris Hannegen, also a troupe member. Auditions and rehearsals generally occur outdoors. “We’re trying,” says Hannegen, “to be as Covid-conscious as possible.” That’s why there were no live, public performances during the quarantine period and why audiences should expect only outdoor shows in the near future.
So what else is part of the current Trek Theater outlook? Amazon Park will continue as the closest thing to a home venue for the troupe. Pending plans include adding free shows in downtown Eugene and University of Oregon locations in coming months. Expect more performances than usual this year — shows that continue to appeal to all ages while attracting new fans unfamiliar with Star Trek culture.
Past shows have typically mined material from the original Star Trek TV series and early episodes of The Next Generation. They’ve sometimes borrowed from landmark non-Trek sci-fi films, and sometimes added music. The near future will likely include original scripts from local writers. Or productions reflecting expanded efforts to invite new troupe members — cast, crew, even directors — into the fold.
And what’s that fold? “The thing I’m most proud of is the family,” says troupe member Michael Harris. “Yeah, like we have formed friendships, relationships, like we’ve just become a tight knit, weird little family.” facebook.com/trektheater