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The Language Archive

End of Discussion

Posted on: September 30th, 2010 by Roundabout

 

One real-life linguistics professor diagrams the connections between Julia Cho’s play The Language Archive and the real-life tragedy of disappearing tongues.

by Chris Collins

Like George, the main character in Julia Cho's play The Language Archive, I am a linguist who has done work documenting highly endangered languages. Currently, I am involved in a project to document N|uu, a Khoisan language spoken by fewer than 10 elderly people in and around the town of Upington, South Africa. It is the last remaining Khoisan language of South Africa, all the others having been wiped out with the arrival of colonists from Europe. With a few exceptions, the Khoisan languages of southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, the southern part of Angola) are either extinct or on the verge of extinction.

In Cho’s play, George explains the catastrophe: “When we say a language dies, we are talking about a whole world, a whole way of life. It is the death of imagination, memory.” I agree with this statement, which echoes a sentiment expressed by the late Prof. Ken Hale, my thesis supervisor: “The death of a language is a disaster. It’s as if someone had dropped a bomb on the Louvre.”

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Related Categories:
2010-2011 Season, The Language Archive


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The Language Archive

While it’s always exciting to embark on a production of a new play, I’m particularly eager to share The Language Archive with you because it marks the first time in over a decade that we have produced a play commissioned by Roundabout. Commissions can be so wonderful for playwrights and theatres alike: playwrights are supported while creating their work, and theatres are able to make a tangible commitment to the artists they want to be working with. In a case like this one, I had been admiring Julia Cho’s plays from afar over the years. With work like Durango and The Piano Teacher, I knew that she was an incredibly gifted writer who could create a play that was perfect for the Pels stage. With that in mind, nearly three years ago we offered her a commission, and it has been a pleasure to watch The Language Archive grow all the way from first draft into the stunning production you’ll be seeing. For much of that time, Julia has been collaborating with director and Roundabout Associate Artist Mark Brokaw (After Miss Julie, Distracted), who does outstanding work on new plays and has been a fantastic voice to have with the project throughout its development.

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Related Categories:
2010-2011 Season, The Language Archive


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Julia Cho’s New Play “The Language Archive”

Posted on: April 9th, 2010 by Roundabout Press Office

 

Julia Cho is at home at South Coast Repertory

April 2, 2010

Eight years ago, Julia Cho came to South Coast Repertory for the first time. She was a novice author, still in grad school, and excited to have her play, "99 Histories," read at the Pacific Playwrights Festival.

Her visit was "amazing," she recalls. "I couldn't believe they were going to fly me to Costa Mesa from New York and put me up in a hotel, let alone put on my play."

The experience also proved to be "a little intimidating," she says. "I was glad to be there, but I wasn't sure I belonged with all the older, more established playwrights."

Times have changed.

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Related Categories:
2008-2009 Season, 2010-2011 Season, The Language Archive


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