Imagine being a linguist, but you can’t express your feelings through words. Imagine how hurt, isolated and confused that would feel. This is where the main character George finds himself in “The Language Archive,” the University of Colorado Boulder Theater and Dance Department’s upcoming show, which opens Feb. 27.
“The Language Archive,” written by playwright and TV writer Julia Cho, follows a linguist named George who studies dying languages. Though he preserves words for a living, George struggles to communicate with the people around him. This play looks at George’s life and relationships, and how important words are in connecting with others.
K. Woodzick, a Ph.D. student in the theater department, said that they decided to put on the show to highlight human connections, especially in our fragmented world.
“I think that we’re in this very interesting cultural moment where it’s documented that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and yet our need for connection is increasing exponentially,” they said.
Woodzick originally acted in “The Language Archive” in Washington in 2014, playing George’s assistant Emma with Outcast Productions. As a director this time, they wanted the rehearsal process to be more creatively collaborative than their experience, giving students a chance to experiment in their acting and explore their creativity.
“I never want to create the feeling in the room that I’m the smartest person,” they said. “We have a social expectation in the room (that) we’ll all be willing to try anything once.”
To help with pronunciation, the theater department teamed up with Lizzie Goodrich, a graduate student from the linguistics department. The show is primarily in English, but a few scenes are in Esperanto, a made-up universal language from 1887, and Elloway, a language created especially for “The Language Archive.”
“I love that it’s a cross-department collaboration because I think we need more of that,” Woodzick said.
The show’s different languages also gave the creative team a chance to explore diverse casting. The characters of Alta and Resten are the last speakers of Elloway. Since the language is made up, there isn’t only one type of person who can play the character.
“What I love about the script is it has infinite potential for inclusive casting practices,” Woodzick said. “Casting directors tend not to be very imaginative unless you give them permission to do so.”
According to Woodzick, everyone can connect with “The Language Archive” story and the idea of not feeling heard.
“It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, you’ll probably laugh, you’ll probably cry, and if we do our jobs right, audiences are going to leave thinking about how they can connect deeply in the relationships that they have.”
The show will run in the Acting Studio Feb. 27 through March 1. More information can be found here.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kathryn Bistodeau at email@example.com.