Shakespeare To Be Performed In ‘The Original Klingon’

It’s Shakespeare as it was always meant to be performed–in Klingon.

When the run of selected Shakespeare works begins on Sept. 25, the Washington Shakespeare Company will go where no performing arts group has gone before–performing the Bard’s work in Klingon, according to the Washington Post.

The first performance in Rosslyn, Va., is an annual benefit for the company. The Arlington, Va.-based group will perform selections from “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing” in Klingon.

“It kind of fits into our company identity, of trying to breathe some fresh air into the classics, of doing something really, really different with them,” the company’s longtime artistic director, Christopher Henley, told the newspaper. “It seems a way to say that we’re not as reverent as other companies in town.” However, this will not be the first time company has put its own twist on a classic play. Three years ago the group staged a nude performance of “Macbeth.”

Actors will speak the verse in two languages, English and Klingon. At least partially true to the original work, the lines spoken in each language will correspond to Shakespeare’s signature meter–iambic pentameter..

This isn’t the first time that a play was translated into Klingon. The Pennsylvania-based Klingon Language Institute published The Klingon Hamlet several years ago and has composed a Klingon version of “Much Ado About Nothing.” The institute is also helping with the Sept. 25 performance.

In the 1979 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture, actor James Doohan, who played Chief Engineer Scotty, first devised the basic sound and a few words for the Klingons’ own language. The language was further developed by American linguist Marc Ocrand who in 1985 published The Klingon Dictionary. Of course, Okrand is serving as the president of Washington Shakespeare Company’s board, so he gets what he wants. But it was during Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country that we found out just how much the Klingons enjoyed Shakespeare–and that they loved it when performed in “the original Klingon.”

As if that weren’t enough, George Takei, the actor who portrayed Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, will be at the performance.

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