L.A. Premiere of ‘The Language Archive’ at East West Players

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Ryun Yu

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work and the longest-running professional theater of color in the country, continues its 46th anniversary season, themed “Languages of Love,” with the Los Angeles premiere of “The Language Archive” by Julia Cho, directed by Jessica Kubzansky.

The cast of the production will feature artists of diverse Asian backgrounds: Jennifer Chang, Kimiko Gelman, Nelson Mashita, Jeanne Sakata, and Ryun Yu.

Meet George, a linguist, a master of languages, who cannot express his love for his wife — and ends up losing her. Follow this whimsical and heartbreaking look at love and language that asks, “How do we save what is dying?”

Winner of the 2010 Susan Blackburn Prize, “The Language Archive” will run Nov. 3 to Dec. 4, is presented by special arrangement with Dramatist Play Service Inc., New York. Generous support for this production is provided by the S. Mark Taper Foundation Endowment for East West Players.

Julia Cho

“We are excited to continue our season with this emotion-filled play,” says EWP Producing Artistic Director Tim Dang. “Previous productions have had non-Asian casts, but by casting Asian Americans in the roles, there is definitely a new perspective and poignancy that the play offers from a cultural standpoint.”

Dang adds, “East West Players is proud to partner with community partners Kaya Press and Libros Schmibros Lending Library & Bookshop. Because this play is about language and the way we communicate, it is a perfect choice to work with groups that promote literacy and literature.”

Kaya Press (www.kaya.com) is an independent not-for-profit publisher of Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic literature. It is dedicated to the publication of new and innovative fiction, poetry, critical essays, art, and culture, and the recovery of important and overlooked work from the Pacific Rim and the API diaspora. It aims to expand the range of outstanding API literature available to the public by publishing works of excellent literary merit, including works in translation.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with East West Players on this innovative production of Julia Cho’s latest play,” says Sunyoung Lee, publisher of Kaya Press. “As an independent literary publisher of Asian diasporic literature, we’re constantly exploring many of the same issues brought up by the play about language and its ability or inability to communicate and preserve identity and relationships — as well as, of course, the transformative potential of art-making.

“East West Players has long been a pioneer of doing this kind of work, and we’re happy to celebrate our recent move to Los Angeles with what we hope will be the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration.”

Libros Schmibros (http://librosschmibros.wordpress.com/) is a lending library and bookstore in Boyle Heights that takes the generously bestowed book bounty of the city and chooses titles that best fit its holdings. It is important that the books combine with the library in ways that make sense; books that cannot be used are re-donated.

“Ever since I saw their production of Sondheim’s ‘Passion,’ I’ve admired EWP’s work enormously,” says LIbros Schmibros founder David Kipen. “Partnering with the company on Julia Cho’s lovely, funny play about dying languages — especially for an outfit like Libros Schmibros, with a name half-borrowed from a language that came back from the dead — feels just right.”

Cho’s plays include “The Piano Teacher,” “Durango,” “The Winchester House,” “BFE,” “The Architecture of Loss” and “99 Histories.” Her work has been produced at EWP, The Public Theater, The Vineyard Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, South Coast Repertory, New York Theatre Workshop, The [email protected] Court ([email protected]), Theater Mu and Silk Road Theatre Project, among others.

Honors include the 2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the Barrie Stavis Award, the Claire Tow Award for Emerging Artists and the L. Arnold Weissberger Award. An alumna of the Juilliard School and NYU’s Graduate Dramatic Writing Program, Cho is a member of New Dramatists. Her plays are available from Dramatists Play Service and www.playscripts.com.

Kubzansky is co-artistic director of [email protected] and an award-winning director working nationally at South Coast Rep, Pasadena Playhouse, The Geffen, Illinois Shakes, Portland Center Stage, and The Aurora. She has worked with EWP on “Dawn’s Light” (also at Silk Road, Chicago) and with Cho on the development of “99 Histories” and “BFE,” among others. She is a recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre.

Additional support for this production of “The Language Archive” is provided by the California Community Foundation, Shubert Foundation, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and Bank of America.

Performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St. in Little Tokyo. The play opens Wednesday, Nov. 9, and closes on Sunday, Dec. 4. Opening night will be accompanied by a pre-performance cocktail reception and a post-show reception with the cast and creative team.

Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Previews are Thursday to Saturday, Nov. 3-5, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. A pay-what-you-can performance will be held Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 8 p.m. with a suggested $5 minimum donation. There is no performance on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.

General admission tickets range from $31 to $41. Preview tickets are $20 for all seats. For ticket purchases or more information, call (213) 625-7000 or visit www.eastwestplayers.org. Senior, student and group discounts are available.

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