CCRI Players to Present THE LANGUAGE ARCHIVE, 2/26-3/1
The Language Archive by Julia Cho has been hailed by one critic as "a quirky, but ravishingly well-written piece that is smart, funny, deep and tender." Winner of the 2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for outstanding new English-language play by a woman, Cho's whimsical work will be presented for the first time in Rhode Island by the Community College of Rhode Island Players. Performances will be given at the Liston Campus in Providence on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 26, 27, and 28 at 7:30 P.M., and on Saturday and Sunday, February 28 and March 1, at 2 P.M.
Author Julia Cho, born in Los Angeles and raised in Arizona, is the daughter of Korean immigrants. A graduate of Amherst College who also holds graduate degrees from UC Berkeley, NYU and The Juilliard School, she began work on The Language Archive in 2008 after reading a newspaper story about the death of the last known speaker of an indigenous language.
"I've always been fascinated with languages," she says. "Specifically, the idea of dying languages kind of stuck with me because I always felt guilty about not being able to speak Korean, which is the language my parents speak. I started reading more on how and why languages go extinct. As someone who cares enormously about language and words," Cho explains, "I found the whole idea unsettling and sad."
In The Language Archive, George, the main character, studies dead languages and is busy trying to record the conversations of the last two speakers of a language called Elloway (which Cho invented). But having command over several languages and being fluent in the language of love turn out to be very different things. The linguist can have mastery over words in his professional life yet still find himself at a loss for words in his personal life. George doesn't know what to say to his wife, Mary, to keep her from leaving him, and he doesn't recognize the deep feelings that his lab assistant, Emma, has for him. "The play is about the vagaries of communication and how difficult it can be to say exactly what we mean," Cho says.
Commissioned by the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York, which produced the play Off-Broadway at the Laura Pels Theatre on October 17, 2010, The Language Archive took shape slowly. It began as a 10-minute piece involving the linguist, George, and his wife, Mary. Eventually, Cho found herself writing about another couple as well - "an old man and woman from a foreign place who argued in English but didn't speak it as their native tongue." Later, the character of Emma, George's lovelorn assistant, appeared. At its heart, says Cho, The Language Archive is about "language as a metaphor for love" and thus about the ability (or inability) to express one's feelings.
Tony-winning director Doug Hughes , one of the judges who chose The Language Archive for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, described the play as "funny and filled with surprises - a humane, wise work about the terrifying inadequacy of language to bridge the distance between human beings."
The CCRI Players' production of The Language Archive is directed by Prof. Bert Silverberg. Set design is by Luke J. Sutherland, with costume design by Marilyn Salvatore, lighting design by Dan Fisher, sound design by Kaisey Caputo and Audrey Lavin Crawley, and technical direction by Justin Carroll. The student cast includes: Derek Smith of Woonsocket; Rebecca Tremblay, Jeff Ararat, and Marina Tejada of Providence; Lauren Ferreira and Yemi Owojori of Cranston; James Diego Fontaine and Nicholas Menna of Warwick; Stephanie Randazzo of Barrington; Jessica Still of North Kingstown; Yunus Quddus of Pawtucket; and Samantha Sievers of Richmond. Brayam Renovales of Providence is the Stage Manager, assisted by Jeana Ariel Garcia of North Providence.
Tickets are $10.00 for the general public and $8.00 for students and senior citizens. Telephone reservations may be made by calling (401) 825-2219 at any time, or by sending an order by e-mail to CCRIPlayers@aol.com.