Wads of Words and Little Communication
by Cate Murway
There is definitely a word gap. Oftentimes, words fail us.
Apparently there is a major chasm between what is said and what is not said. Words can sometimes fail to convey the overwhelming nature of feeling. The quality of words, rather than the quantity is crucial. Love is the only language that can leave us all at a loss for words. Language is too broad, and not broad enough, to describe what love is.
Rather timely, the award-winning premiere Bristol Riverside Theatre in its 29th season of engaging both audiences and artists, presents a wise and provocative love story, ‘The Language Archive’. It is a sweet small play about what gets lost in translation, about what can't be heard no matter how often or how it's said and how difficult it is to communicate. It is a wryly beguiling, rather haunting, an elegant, graceful confection of a play that uses humor to tackle how that most troublesome language, the language of love, can cause a major disconnect between men and women. Language between two people is as much a living organism as language spoken by an entire tribe.
Husband and wife team, BRT Artistic Director Keith Baker and celebrated actress, Jo Twiss, appear together in the 5 actor ensemble cast also featuring Irungu Mutu, Tiffany Villarin, and Julianna Zinkel.
Wow! Art imitating life from January 26, 2016- February 14, 2016! ‘The Language Archive’ is a lot of fun.
“This is a beautiful story about love and how difficult it is to communicate and keep love alive and not take the other person for granted. It’s about life and everyone can relate to it,” shared Jo who plays Alta.
On Broadway, Jo appeared as Big Mamma in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a role she reprised in St. Louis and Cincinnati where she won an Acclaim Award for her performance.
Keith, who plays Resten, stated, “It is a thought provoking work, filled with humor and deep feeling by a rising female author.” He has been nominated eleven times for the prestigious Carbonell Awards, for which he was twice the recipient for Best Actor and he has directed more than 40 BRT productions.
Even if there were no play at all, just witnessing veterans Keith and Jo as these two characters with their thoughtful exploration of language would be more than entertainment enough.
In ‘The Language Archive’, Alta and Resten the contentious and squabbling couple with plenty of old-world buoyancy who have been married for years, are the very last of the speakers of obscure Elloway, a lilting, vaguely Eastern European language that their countrymen stopped speaking decades ago. They are beckoned from the mountainous regions of colloquially the ‘stans’ [the six Middle Asian countries generally considered to be within the region all having names ending with the Persian suffix "-stan", meaning "land of”] to assist Professor George portrayed by Irungu Mutu.
With brilliant insights into language, but apparently clueless about communication, the Prof works devotedly to prevent what he perceives as an irretrievable loss while archiving, preserving and documenting the last remnants of a dying, sacred language of a far-flung culture.
Which comes first and dies last—language or culture? “The world dies and the language follows.”
The linguist realizes he is in for a truly bad work day when those last two speakers of that native tongue reach a verbal impasse, refusing to talk to each other. They fight exclusively in English, not caring if Elloway falls into oblivion.
“It’s a love story. Also, “we” cook some delicious bread (best in town). You will even learn a new word or two.”
“Mi estas amita”. Translation: “I have been loved.”
Irungu’s television credits include co-starring roles on The Blacklist and Boardwalk Empire.
Tiffany Vallarin, playing Emma, Professor George’s assistant, has appeared at Goodman Theatre in the world premiere of Ghostwritten, at Yale Rep in Peerless, and at Pearl Theatre Company in Figaro.
She is a BFA graduate of The Theatre School of DePaul University.
Julianna Zinkel, playing Mary, Professor George’s wife, has been a member of People's Light & Theatre Company since 2007 where she starred in Theophilus North, The Crucible, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Crispin: The Cross of Lead. She started taking her acting ability seriously during her sophomore year at Temple University.
If you haven't already done so, add Julia Cho's name to your list of young playwrights to watch! Rising playwright Julia Cho’s work received its world premier at the Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory located in Costa Mesa, CA. ‘The Language Archive’ was awarded the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for female playwrights who have written distinguished works for the English-speaking theater.
The play has been praised as "a humane, wise work about the terrifying inadequacy of language to bridge the distance between human beings."
Adam Immerwahr of Washington, D.C.’s Theater J, the nation’s most prominent Jewish theatre, directs the play, drawing connections among characters and circumstances in the most seamless of fashions.
The ‘Language Archive’ brings together the creative team of Set Designer Jeff Van Velson, Costume Designer Kristin Isola, Lighting Designer Paul Kilsdonk, and Sound Designer Karen Graybash, all making their BRT debuts.
The BRT is the recipient of over 70 nominations for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theater, given annually by Theatre Philadelphia. It serves as a cultural hub for the community, with incredible children's theatre programs, community concerts and exhibitions of local visual arts.
Get tickets! Come PLAY in historic Bristol on the Delaware.
Take part in the excitement of a large stage with the intimacy of a 300-seat theater, along with the outstanding lighting and sound technology.
Free, ample parking is available near the theatre: in the lot adjacent to the theatre behind National Penn Bank, on the street, and in the Municipal Lot behind the shops on Mill Street.
Performances run Wednesday through Sunday until February 14th. Running time: 1 hour 40minutes.
Tickets start at $32, with discounts for students, groups and military personnel.
Reminder: BRT Gift cards make the perfect gift for any theatre lover.
You choose the dollar amount. Easy to use, easy to buy!
Bristol Riverside Theatre
120 Radcliffe Street
Bristol, PA 19007
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