With the 2nd Annual Scientology Pageant soon approaching, A Red Orchid Theatre intern Josh Sobel sat down with cast member and returning "L. Ron Hubbard" Chaz Allen to get his thoughts on returning, Scientology and the show itself:
JS: So how does it feel to be back doing the Scientology Pageant at the home of its Chicago premiere, A Red Orchid Theatre?
CA: I like doing it again, because you can always change what you did last year, and make it better… We know how to make it better. You know, with the help of the director and everybody, we will take it to the next level. And it’s better to do it the second time, so you can improve.
JS: It was such a hit last season, and now here it is again, and [A Red Orchid Theatre wants] to keep it going - how does that feel?
CA: It’s a big shadow to live up to, because it did so well last year… It’s a lot of pressure to live up to what happened last year. So we’re trying to make it better. And I think it’s going to be better.
JS: So you play L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.
CA: The prophet.
JS: (laughs) Okay, maybe that will be one of these: Your own three words to describe L. Ron Hubbard.
CA: Master-manipulator… that’s one, I hyphenated it. Ungenuine. And prophetic, actually. Because what’s the difference between prophet L. Ron, and any other prophet, you know? He’s conveying a good message.
JS: That’s true. I mean, a lot of his stuff is like self-help, betterment…
CA: It’s made to make you feel better, or made to make you a better person, and that’s what religion is, really. It’s a set of rules to live by to make you a better person. And it doesn’t matter if you believe in a Virgin Mary or, uh, Xenu, you know?
JS: That was actually my next question… what’s the deal with Xenu? In your own words?
CA: It’s the satan-figure… well, it’s the god and satan figure, you know, because he’s bad, he’s a bad guy, but he’s also “creator,” you know, a little bit – creator of how we are today.
JS: So who is he, in the Scientology story? What’s his background, I guess?
CA: Come see the show! (laughs) You know, millions and millions of years ago, he was on a space ship, and he decided to, (makes laser-ish noises), and it’s sort of the Adam and Eve story, because it’s like the first thing that happened, that created how we are today. So you can call him the god-figure… But he’s bad, because he put emotion in people. But god did that too, in the Genesis story.
JS: So it’s all kind of anti-emotion, then? Like “emotions are bad” sort of feeling?
CA: Scientology? Yes. But not Xenu… He put emotions into people. Bad emotions AND good emotions, but mostly… well, you know, people get happy, people get sad, but really, Scientology is like to make you happy, but actually not to make you “happy,” just to eliminate all emotion, so you’re just, nothing.
JS: So doesn’t that seem like a bit of a contradiction? Like, it wants you to be happy, or wants you to be better, but to not have emotions?
CA: Well, it completely makes sense, because how can you have badness in you if you don’t have emotion in you? How can you have sadness…
JS: That’s kind of profound.
CA: (laughs) I mean I guess so, it is. It’s a really good story.
JS: Who is your favorite celebrity Scientolog…
CA: Beck! Straight up.
JS: Good answer... Well, this has been a funny and yet really profound interview… I guess the last question I would have is like, what do you think – as the L. Ron Hubbard, prophet character – what do you think the audience should take away from the show?
CA: I think when you watch this show you shouldn’t just see it as a bash on Scientology. You should actually see it as just complete satire. Right, because if we were just going out and bashing somebody’s beliefs, that’s not good. I would never sign up for something like that. I think that’s wrong. I think they should have the freedom to believe what they believe. So I think what you should take away from the show is that you need to laugh at yourself. And you need to understand the weaknesses of yourself. And you know strengths too, because Scientology has a lot of strengths in their beliefs, but they have a lot of weaknesses too. But it’s the same thing with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, everything. Every belief has weaknesses. Plot holes. So you have to learn to look at yourself and pick out those weaknesses… that’s what I think you should get out of the show.