BGSU Department of Theatre and Film

“The Language Archive” speaks to difficulties of communicating from the heart

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The linguist at the center of the play “The Language Archive” is fluent in a number of languages. The language of the heart is not one of them. The play by Julia Cho is all about the difficulty of mastering that language. “The Language Archive” opens tonight (Thursday, Feb. 15) and continues weekends through Feb. 24 at the Eva Marie Saint Theatre in Bowling Green State University’s Wolfe Center for the Arts. Click for show times and ticket information. For George (Connor Long) those troubles are evident from the opening scene. He’s concerned about his wife who always seems sad, crying at the least provocation whether watching TV, cleaning the house, or writing notes. “She uses her tears to seal the envelopes.” But his wife, Mary (Felita Guyton), wonders why he never cries, not even at the death of his grandmother. As a linguist devoted to preserving dying languages, he finds the extinction of a language far more moving than the death of any pet or family member. There are 6,900 languages in the world, he notes, and half of them are expected to be gone by the end of the century. The death of a language is the death of a world, he believes. (Though as another character points out later, the world dies first.) George works in an archive of tapes of dead and dying languages. He and his long-time assistant Emma (Laura Beth Hohman) are welcoming a couple who speak a nearly extinct language. They hope to capture their conversation on tape. Usually they have only a single speaker of an endangered language who delivers long stories and monologues. Seldom do they have two people who can converse. And Resten (Michael Tosti) and Alta (Hope Elizabeth Eller) do converse in a comic scene. They are sullen when they enter, and then they start talking, bickering. It starts with the wife’s complaints about getting stuck in the middle seat on the airplane on their flight over, devolves into his complaints about her…


BGSU theater staging ‘The Language Archive’

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present Julia Cho’s award-winning play, “The Language Archive” in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at BGSU’s Wolfe Center for the Arts, Feb. 15-24. Performances are in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the BGSU campus, Feb. 15-17 and 22-24 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 17, 18, and 24 at 2 p.m.Tickets purchased in advanced are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office in the Wolfe Center, online at bgsu.edu/arts, or by calling 419-372-8171. Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for women who have written distinguished works for the English-speaking theatre, “The Language Archive” tells the story of George, a brilliant linguist who has devoted himself to archiving dying languages. When George’s wife leaves him after he fails to decode a series of mysterious notes he receives from her, he struggles to learn the vocabulary of loss as he fights to preserve the Elloway language. Its last known speakers, a bickering elderly couple grappling with their own sense of loss, refuse to speak to each other in their native tongue, making George’s work nearly impossible. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to George, his assistant, Emma, finds herself unable speak in complete sentences as she tries to come to terms with her feelings for him. Inspired by the universal language of Esperanto, which was created with the hope of moving toward a more peaceful and unified world, “The Language Archive” offers a poignant and bittersweet exploration of the insufficiency of language to capture and communicate the human experience. Still, Cho’s play reminds us that language is sometimes an act of faith, and often our only hope for coming to terms with loss. As Cho’s characters discover, we sometimes have to venture further into sadness to find the endings we need – even if they’re not the endings we imagine. Introspective and lightly comic, “The…


Puppets have the power to entertain, enrage, and heal

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two things were clear during the conversation on Puppetry: Exploring Life & Art. Puppets aren’t just for kids, and puppeteers are tired of having writers point out that puppets are not just for kids. The panel came on the eve of ArtsX at Bowling Green State University. Kelly Mangan, the prop master for the Department of Theatre and Film, facilitated the talk between Mel Hatch Douglas, a 1998 BGSU graduate and associate artistic director of Madcap Puppets, and Bradford Clark, puppet master, scholar, and museum curator. The spoke in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre with a backdrop of some of the puppets in their lives. In some traditions, puppets are considered alive. Mangan remembered first meeting Clark, long before either joined the BGSU faculty. She was 19, and she remembered Clark blowing incense into the eyes of puppets. This came, he said, from his studies in Bali. “At that point, they became people,” she said. “As a prop person in order to put them back into storage, we had to take the life out. Until then we treated them as people.” For a 19-year-old, this was magic. She’s retained her love of puppets and has used them in her work. “I look at a script and help a director tell that story.” Sometimes that involves elements of puppetry. For a Huron Playhouse production of “The Wizard of Oz,” she used elaborate shadow puppets as scenery. Clark recalled his own initiation into puppetry. He loved it as a kid growing up in California. His fourth grade teacher brought in a stage so he could present marionette shows. Right before heading off to college he took a job at an old theater in the Carmel Valley run by two veteran puppeteers and his passion was fully aflame. The focus of his studies has been the use of puppets around the world, both in theater and ritual. Douglas came to puppets relatively late. She delayed graduating from BGSU by touring as an actress. When she finally graduated…


BGSU Theatre offers early 20th century romantic comedy

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University’s Department of Theatre and Film will present “Diana of Dobson’s,” Cicely Hamilton’s Edwardian comedy of manners, in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts for one weekend only, Nov.16-19. When London department store employee Diana comes into an unexpected sum of money, she fulfills her dream of vacationing abroad. Posing as a wealthy widow, she attracts the romantic attentions of Captain Bretherton, a fellow traveler she meets in Switzerland. Are his affections genuine, or are he and his aunt merely after Diana’s supposed fortune? “Diana of Dobson’s” explores this question, as well as ones regarding the limited options available to working-class women in the early 20th century, in a style that mixes the witty intelligence of George Bernard Shaw with elements of classic romantic comedy. BGSU faculty member Jonathan Chambers has directed the production of the 1908 play with traditional early 20th-century “music hall” embellishments, including live music provided by BGSU Lecturer Geoffrey Stephenson and theatre student Anna Parchem. Jarod Dorotiak is the accompanist. “Diana of Dobson’s” features Camila Piñero as Diana and Jarod Mariani as her suitor, Captain Bretherton. The cast also includes students Harmon R. Andrews, Hennessey Bevins, Kelly Dunn, Adam Hensley, Laura Hohman, Megan Kome, Lorna Jane Patterson, Fallon Smyl, and Gabriyel Thomas. BGSU Lecturer Kelly Wiegant Mangan has designed scenery and properties to capture the play’s 1908 charm, and Professor Margaret Cubbin provides costumes that showcase the period’s popular fashions. Lighting design is by Professor Steve Boone. The production team also includes Stage Manager Stephanie Vietor and Assistant Stage Manager Nora Long. Performances are in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts on the BGSU campus, Nov. 16-18 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 18-19 at 2 p.m. Tickets purchased in advanced are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for adults. All tickets are $20 if purchased on the day of performance. Tickets can be purchased through the BGSU Arts Box Office…


Treehouse Troupe takes “New Kid” on the road to share lessons about tolerance

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bullying is an international language. That’s a lesson Nic learns on her first day in an American school. She had moved with her family to the United States from Homeland, not speaking English, and now she must adjust to life among strangers. That’s the plot of “New Kid,” a play by Dennis Foon being staged in schools around the region by Bowling Green State University’s Treehouse Troupe. Recently the troupe staged “New Kid” in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library for home-schooled students and students from St. Aloysius. We meet Nic played by Shannan Bingham and her mother played by Kristyn Curnow as they discuss leaving their country Homeland. The backdrop is colorful and their costumes are an iridescent green. Though they say they don’t know English, their lines come out as English, and the audience knows what they are saying. Soon Nic is in her new school, shyly joining two other students, Mencha (Autumn Chisholm) and Mug (Harmon Andrews) at recess. Before she comes out the audience gets to listen in on Mencha and Mug’s conversation. Not that it will do them any good. They’re animated as they chat but the words frustrate comprehension. Clearly it’s a language, just not one we understand. Nor as it turns out any other language. The actors’ body gestures, make it clear that they are negotiating some sort of exchange. The language was made up by the playwright to give youngsters a sense of what it’s like to be in a place where you can’t understand what anyone else is saying. Nic has a rough time. Mug starts by teasing and then taunts her, even breaking the bowl her friends back in Homeland gave her as a going away present. She learns one word “Groc,” an ethnic slur. She flees school. Nic returns to school the next day intent of staying away from the others. But Mencha proves to be a good hearted sort who befriends her and helps her deal with Mug’s bullying. Emily Aguilar,…


BGSU’s “The Penelopiad” shows the tragedy on the ancient Greek homefront

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News “The Penelopiad” is a woman’s take on the testosterone-fueled tales told in “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” Given women’s place in the ancient societies that spawned these myths, we shouldn’t be surprised that Margaret Atwood should set her tale in hell, or the Greek version, Hades, more a place of internal torment than physical pain. “The Penelopiad” directed by Sara Lipinski Chambers, opens in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre on the Bowling Green State University campus tonight (Thursday, Feb. 16) and continues weekends through Saturday, Feb, 25. (See details below.) Through Penelope (Katya Dachik), the legendary faithful wife, we learn the other side of the story of  Odysseus and his return home after 20 years of war and wandering. We see his vengeance not as triumph but as tragedy. As with any Greek tragedy the plot is fueled by a central fault in our central character. Penelope believes she can somehow control the patriarchy that closes in on her life – her father, her husband, her in-laws, the controlling servant, and the suitors lusting for her body and more so her husband’s patrimony. But then that frail belief is all she has to cling to. Using the wiles her husband is famous for, she conspires to hold the unwelcomed suitors at bay only to bring death to those who aided her. But then Odysseus (Jarod Mariani) came home alone, his crew’s bodies strewn across the Aegean in a trail leading back to the bloody fields of Troy. “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” are tales of war told by the victors. Though men so often use women as a pretext for war, women are almost never among the victors, no matter what side their husbands, fathers, lovers, and sons fought on. This is a dark play. The stage thrusts into the audience seated in close quarters on three sides. We are observers in Hades as Penelope tells of her own mythic birth and an upbringing where she was never sure if her father might not pitch…