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A Star Is Gorn! Performance Venues See Crowds Return As COVID-19 Wanes

Brian Bull

Through the Memorial Day weekend, venues drew crowds to stadiums, race tracks, and theaters…which included an outdoor musical in Roseburg.  Performers and audiences alike hope to see the curtain fall on the pandemic, and rise on normalcy once more.


More than 50 people gathered on the grass outside the Umpqua Valley Arts Center Saturday night to watch “Arena Gorn Superstar”, a musical homage to a classic Star Trek episode. Here, the reptilian Gorn captain taunts Captain Kirk, as they prepare for mortal combat.

Gorn Captain, rapping: “…crush you, crush you! Fragile little fellow, will wring you into Jello, when I crush you! Crush you, crush you, twist your scrawny brain into mush!” HAHAHAHA!”

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Director Christine Allaback of Umpqua Community College Centerstage, said actors wore masks or socially distanced during the performance, while the audience sat within painted squares spaced apart to comply with COVID-19 protocols.

“There’s a little stress but it isn’t as stressful as last summer," Allaback told KLCC.  "But I felt if we can do outdoor theater, let’s do outdoor theater. We kinda need to do this, and the community needs this.

"We’ve been isolated, we need to be out and interacting with each other, and we need to be seeing live art happening, bring us out of this sort of global depression we’ve been in.” 

With more Oregonians vaccinated, mandated mask usage is also easing in some situations. But just when performing arts and sports venues will go to pre-pandemic norms is still a matter of whether the coronavirus spikes, mutates, or keeps regressing.

Note: No Gorn were harmed in the making of this musical. 

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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