Barry McNamara  |  Published February 06, 2024

‘The Language Archive’

Julia Cho’s play will be premiere production Feb. 15-18 in new Hewes Library Studio Theater.

The cast of The Language Archive includes, from left, Dani Lopez '24 (Alta) of Scottsbluff, Nebraska,... The cast of “The Language Archive” includes, from left, Dani Lopez ’24 (Alta) of Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Lindsay Logan ’27 (Emma) of Brentwood, California, Eric Pio ’26 (George) of Galesburg, Illinois, and Edrass Chavez-Alvarado ’26 (Reston) of Chicago. The bittersweet comedy by Julia Cho will be performed Feb. 15-18 at Hewes Library Studio Theater.MONMOUTH, Ill. – Although Valentine’s Day will have come and gone earlier in the week, the next Monmouth College theatre production will focus on love languages, or the lack thereof.

Playwright Julia Cho’s bittersweet comedy The Language Archive, which its director, Monmouth theatre professor Todd Quick, called “a sweet, funny, heartfelt quirky little play,” will open on campus Feb. 15 and run through Feb. 18

It will be the first production staged in the Hewes Library Studio Theater, which is located on the lower level of the building. Formerly the Barnes Electronic Classroom, the space has been repurposed to a black box theater to present plays in a more intimate setting.

“This is a small, intimate play with only five actors – the type of play that would sort of get lost on the larger stage of Wells Theater. … This was the perfect play to reintroduce the Monmouth community to theatre on a smaller stage.” – Todd Quick


“This is a small, intimate play with only five actors – the type of play that would sort of get lost on the larger stage of Wells Theater,” said Quick. “It’s something we really haven’t been able to do since we were downtown in the Fusion Theatre. This was the perfect play to reintroduce the Monmouth community to theatre on a smaller stage.”

Quick said the new space has also become the department’s “primary acting classroom.”


At a loss for words

The action in The Language Archive takes place primarily in a small archive on a small college campus in the Midwest, “which might feel familiar to some of our audience members,” said Quick. It centers on a linguist named George (played by Eric Pio ’26 of Cedar Rapids, Iowa), who is consumed with preserving and documenting the dying languages of the world, which Quick called “a real phenomenon.” At home, however, “despite all the languages he speaks,” words fail him in his marriage with his wife, Mary (Sam Zigmant ’24 of Plainfield, Illinois).

“How much heartache we could save ourselves if we could more accurately recognize the love language that someone in our life needs us to ‘speak.’ I think that’s where a lot of the conflict in the play comes from – characters not knowing what someone else’s love language is.” – Todd Quick


“The words that we say and the words that we should have said are a big part of this play,” said Quick. “The cast and I talked about love languages. That jumped out to us. There are different ways that we tell each other that we love each other – for example, making someone dinner … or with physical touch or with spoken words. How much heartache we could save ourselves if we could more accurately recognize the love language that someone in our life needs us to ‘speak.’ I think that’s where a lot of the conflict in the play comes from – characters not knowing what someone else’s love language is.”

Another character, Emma, is played by Lindsay Logan ’27 of Brentwood, California, who’s not alone among the production’s first-year contributors to Monmouth theatre.

“We also have a slew of freshman designers who are stepping up and contributing in major ways,” said Quick.


A fresh, contemporary voice

In addition to finding the right type of play to break in the new space, Quick said The Language Archive checked another box on the theatre department’s list.

“(Theatre Department Chair) Vanessa Campagna and I are always trying to find ways to diversify our production season,” said Quick. “I think representation in theatre is really important and having a female-presenting playwright of color in our season is important for our students to see. With J.M. Barrie and Anton Chekhov in the fall, we didn’t quite have that.”

View photos from “The Language Archive” photo call.

A Korean-American playwright, Cho wrote The Language Archive in 2009, and it premiered a year later at Roundabout Theater Company in New York City, the same year it won the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. A decade later, Cho was awarded the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, which recognizes English language writers from anywhere in the world.

“I thought they were just going to read a page or two, and an hour-and-a-half later, they had read through the entire play. I was in tears by the end of it – both from laughter and from their ability to connect to the more heartfelt emotional moments. – Todd Quick


Quick that Cho’s play held his students’ interest from their very first reading of the script, an impromptu session last fall following a rehearsal for Peter Pan.

“I thought they were just going to read a page or two, and an hour-and-a-half later, they had read through the entire play,” said Quick. “I was in tears by the end of it – both from laughter and from their ability to connect to the more heartfelt emotional moments. They were all in stitches at some of the comic sections of the play and had really found themselves connecting with the emotional moments. It became really clear in that moment that we had chosen a really excellent title for this group.”

# # #

Monmouth College will present “The Language Archive” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15-17 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Hewes Library Studio Theater on the College’s campus. Tickets can be purchased online at monmouthcollege.edu/box-office. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a Monmouth College ID.

Listen Up …

On the “Monmouth College Conversations” podcast, Todd Quick previews “The Language Archive” and discusses what the Hewes Library Studio Theater means to the College’s theatre program.

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