All production photos by Alessandra Melo

Sharing the power of storytelling and the importance of representation

CARRYING his passion to create stories and present them to others who may not have the opportunity to feel or go through certain experiences in life, Filipino American Jeffrey Lo takes on directing “The Language Archive” for TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s 50th season. 

Written by Julia Cho, whose “Aubergine” captured rapturous praise and multiple awards, “The Language Archive is balanced delightfully between affection and adversity. 

“’The Language Archive’ is a play that follows a linguist who specializes in the recording and archiving of languages before they die. As this linguist continues his work on languages, however, he struggles with communication of the heart with his wife at home,” shared Lo in an interview with the Asian Journal. “The play explores, in a beautiful way the beauty and limitations of communication and how hard it is for us as humans to reach out and be truly understood.”

Jeffrey Lo

Lo’s interest in theater started in high school, probably on whim.  “I admit I just auditioned for a play because I had a crush on a girl who said I should do it,” he said.  “So I did.  I began to take theatre seriously and realize the power of the art form when I began to write and direct my own plays.”

He educated himself by reading many plays as he could, including classics by Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Neil Simon.  In college, he became acquainted with more contemporary writers, as well ones from diverse backgrounds.  This, he shared, is where he found a “deeper connection with,” and started his footing as a theater artist.

As a playwright and director, Lo has helmed TheaterWorks Silicon Valley’s productions of “The Santaland Diaries.”  He is the recipient of the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award, the Emerging Artist Laureate by Arts Council Silicon Valley and Theater Bay Area Director’s TITAN Award.  A proud alumnus of the UC Irvine Drama Department, he is also a graduate of the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute.

George (Jomar Tagatac) fails to communicate with his wife Mary (Elena Wright) in “The Language Archive,” presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley July 10 – August 4 at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. | All production photos by Alessandra Melo

With “The Language Archive,” Lo explains how the story somewhat connects to him as a Filipino.

“What’s interesting to me is that although this play is not directly about Filipino people specifically, it resonates with me deeply as a Filipino American,” he explained and added, “This play is about heritage and culture and understanding what makes each person unique, imperfect and beautiful. In fact, one of our leading actors, Jomar Tagatac, is Filipino so watching him create his characters’ journey deepens that resonance even further for me.”

He also said that although he was born and raised in the United States to Filipino parents (his father was born in Manila, mother was born in Ilocos Sur), he doesn’t feel that he has lost — or losing — part of his heritage, but rather still has his own individual heritage.

“I don’t feel that I’m losing a part of my heritage being Filipino American because I think that being Filipino American has its own individual heritage than being – say – born and living in the Philippines,” he said.  “I still work to maintain a healthy curiosity for life in the Philippines and what my parents’ generation went through, but I am also proud and happy with my own personal heritage and personal culture of being a Filipino born in America. And I try to explore that through my stories on stage.”

An instructor (Emily Kuroda) attempts to teach Esperanto to Emma (Adrienne Kaori Walters) in “The Language Archive,” presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley July 10 – August 4 at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto. | All production photos by Alessandra Melo

“The Language Archive” features Francis Jue, Emily Kuroda, Jomar Tagatac, Elena Wright and Adrienne Kaori Walters, and will run until August 4, 2019 at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto. 

For tickets ($30-$100) and more information, please visit TheatreWorks.org or call (65) 463-1960.

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