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A Banner Year for Bilingual Theater in San Miguel

ARCHIVE Cast of Language Archive

By Fredric Dannen

Julia Cho’s celebrated play, The Language Archive, currently being performed at the Santa Ana Theater by visiting professional actors from the San Francisco Bay Area alongside local Latin American actors, represents a new milepost in San Miguel. It is the fourth full-length San Miguel theatrical production in the calendar year 2017 that can truly be called bilingual. Up until this year, the theatergoing communities in San Miguel were almost entirely segregated by language. Now it appears that theatrical productions aimed at uniting rather than dividing Mexicans and expatriates are here to stay.

Chloe Bronzan, who previously directed The Language Archive in the San Francisco Bay Area (to glowing reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle), has transported her production and some of the top-flight actors who regularly perform with her Symmetry Theater Company to San Miguel. She has taken Cho’s play, itself a meditation on language, and double-cast the three lead roles with English-speaking and Spanish-speaking actors. Sometimes the protagonist is George, talking in English; sometimes he is Jorge, talking in Spanish; his English-speaking wife, Mary, has a Spanish-speaking counterpart, Maria; and so forth. The novel concept suits and enhances the play without noticeably lengthening it. The result is a production that can be enjoyed and understood by theatergoers proficient in either English or Spanish.

Bronzan was last seen in San Miguel last March when she played the lead role in Tooth and Claw, a radio play presented at the San Miguel Playhouse. Set in the Galápagos Islands, the play was partly in Spanish, and seven of the other eight actors were either Mexican or Venezuelan. Tooth and Claw was not only a box office success—performances were added to keep up with demand—but it marked the first time in memory that a theatrical work in San Miguel was presented in both of the city’s two principal languages. Soon afterward, Marcela Brondo, a Mexican actor who appeared in Tooth and Claw, cofounded La Troupe, San Miguel’s first bilingual theater company. La Troupe’s inaugural venture this past August was a Spanish-language production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night performed at the San Miguel Playhouse with projected supertitles in English. Right on the heels of Long Day’s Journey, the Playhouse presented Neil Simon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers in English, with Spanish supertitles. Now, in a fitting bookend to Tooth and Claw, Bronzan is directing a bilingual Language Archive, with Brondo in the role of Maria.

The Language Archive, which opens November 9, for a run of six performances (November 9–11 and 15–17), is a slyly comic fable about a linguist who becomes tongue-tied when discussing matters of the heart. All performances are at the Santa Ana Theater in the Biblioteca, and all tickets are 200 pesos. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Biblioteca, or at the door before each performance.



The Language Archive/El Archivo de Idiomas

By Julia Cho

Spanish translation by Octavio Solis

November 9–11 and 15–17, 7pm

In English and Spanish

Teatro Santa Ana

Reloj 50A

200 pesos in advance at Biblioteca box office or at the door




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