All-star cast for tale of love, life and language

The Language Archive is a refreshing change from the usual slew of musicals Malaysians are used to.

Malaysian theatre-goers are in for a treat as ‘The Language Archive’, a play by award-winning American playwright Julia Cho, will be staged at the KuAsh Theatre in TTDI this month. The Language Archive tells the story of George, a linguist and scholar of dead and dying languages who, despite his skill with languages, cannot seem to understand how to express love.

“He has a wife who has decided to leave him, an assistant secretly in love with him, and a couple of people who are the last speakers of a dying language,” director Ghafir Akbar said to FMT. “Everything is falling apart, and he’s having trouble communicating with people, and people are trying to understand him. So this play is about the failure of language, communication, and the irony of him being a master of languages who fails to talk to people.”

The play will feature National Arts Award-winning actor-director Gavin Yap in the main role as linguist George, and an equally stellar supporting cast consisting of Zahim Albakri, Farah Rani, Anitha Hamid and Sukania Venugopal.

Ghafir spoke highly of his cast, all acting veterans in their own rights. “We’ve assembled a fantastic group of actors. I’ve worked with them individually before, in different capacities. They are all experienced theatre, TV and film actors,” he said.

Ghafir commented that this play would be a welcome change from the usual slew of musicals that Malaysians are used to.
“Musicals seem to be an easy sell, or at least that’s how they are viewed. People have this tendency to think that if it’s a musical, the chances of selling it are higher. It probably has a wider appeal,” Ghafir said. “This play is a rare sort, the kind we rarely see in Malaysia. Usually, there’s a lot of sensational plays being staged. This is a different kind of point of view. It’s a brilliantly written play, an entertaining play that challenges the audience and asks them to participate in it. “It’s rare that you see this level of talent and professionalism all onstage together. A rare combination.”

When asked on how relevant the theatre is today to Malaysians, who are generally used to more digital forms of entertainment, Ghafir shrugged. “The act of going to the theatre may not be a big thing among Malaysians nowadays, but it’s also not foreign to us. It’s no different from going to the cinema or a concert. “It may not happen as often, but it still remains in our tradition. Here in Asia, there’s the Chinese opera, or wayang kulit, which is all about spending an evening together as a community.
It’s less about the story, and more about the communal event.”

It may be easier to watch television at home, he said, but one misses the sense of community.

The Language Archive will run at the KuAsh Theatre in Taman Tun Dr Ismail from Oct 5-9, at 8.30pm, with an additional show at 3pm on Oct 8-9 only.

Tickets can be bought from www.AirAsiaRedTix.com at RM75 and RM95.