Language of Their Own

Thirty-something, Chinese-born, Oscar, contracts AIDS and breaks up with his lover of four years, the American-born Ming, who is in his twenties. Oscar finds a new relationship with Daniel, a college-age Filipino, while Ming falls in love with Robert, a Caucasian head waiter in his twenties. Along the way, all four proceed on a lyrical and dramatic meditation on the nature of love, desire, sexuality, and self-definition as they come together and drift apart in a series of interconnecting stories. Orange County premiere at Rude Guerrilla Theater. Their website contains more pictures.
WARNING: Nudity and adult situations.


Ruffy Landayan
Ruffy Landayan
as Oscar
Nghia Luu
Nghia Luu
as Ming
Dennis TongDennis Tong
as Daniel
David Clark SmithDavid Clark Smith
as Robert


Apr 6 - Apr 28, 2007 on Fridays and Sat at 8pm .
Sun at 2:30pm.
Thursday shows on Apr 19, Apr 26.

$25 Opening Night Gala ticket includes champagne and munchies. For all other performances, tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors and $10 for students with an ID.

Rude Guerrilla Theater Company, 202 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA. 92701 (view a map).

10% of the show's net profits will be donated to AIDS Services Foundation, Orange County (ASF)

We're looking for donations to support the production. If you have Paypal, click here:
Otherwise, send donations to RGTC, 202 N Broadway, Santa Ana, CA. 92701. Be sure to specify they're for "Language of Their Own."


Rachel Swetnam: Stage Manager
Jessica Woodard: Set Designer
Lindsey Suits: Lighting Designer
Shannon Lee Blas: Sound Manager
Alton "Doc" Cove: Composer
Sarah Boros: Costume Designer/Rehearsal Mistress
Jennifer Bridge: Board Op/Rehearsal Mistress
Jami McCoy: Fight/Stunt Choreographer
Anthony Foo: Window Designer

Producer: Sonja Berggren

Language of Their Own: Backstage West review

A Language of Their Own *
/April 20, 2007
/By Eric Marchese

Chay Yew's poetic, meditative drama looks at the interconnections between love, desire, sexuality, and identity. That his four principal characters are gay is almost incidental, for in Yew's examination, what counts is each character's self-image and shifting emotional and physical needs. Yew's identity is reflected in his three Asian characters, who cope with assimilating into American society. His focal couple are Oscar and Ming, Chinese men whose opposite temperaments pull them apart, yet who are unable to readily get past their intense, four-year relationship. The more feminine Ming almost instantly hooks up with Robert, a white headwaiter who seeks the perfect romance. Cautious, analytical Oscar takes longer, eventually settling on Daniel, a flamboyant young Filipino American excited to be chosen by the older man, who is his first love.

Director Aurelio Locsin exhibits an almost intuitive feel for Yew's map of the human heart, guiding the subtle body language of his actors to match the demands of Yew's text. Ruffy Landayan's Oscar and Nghia Luu's Ming are wonderfully transparent, allowing us to see the complex mechanisms at work inside both men. With his delicate features and deep-set, expressive eyes, Luu is the focal point, his Ming struggling to sort out just exactly what he wants and needs romantically. Landayan's Oscar forms a fine complement: orderly, introspective, anxious over letting Ming go, and gradually worn down by his HIV, which forms a pointed, poignant subtext. Dennis Tong's Daniel is a sunny, frivolous young queen who only gradually awakens to the burdens of caring for the diseased Oscar. David Clark Smith's Robert is a sensitive romantic who prizes over all else the worthy if elusive goal of monogamous commitment. Eloquent and deft, yet surprisingly funny, Yew's writing is well-supported by set designer Jessica Woodard's raised, yin-yang pattern circular stage and spare yellow backcloth, Lindsey Suits' lighting, and Alton Cove's sensitive original score.

Presented by Rude Guerrilla Theater Company at the Empire Theater, 202 N. Broadway, Santa Ana. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2:30 p.m. (Also Thu. 8 p.m. April 19 & 26. Dark Sun. 2:30 p.m. Apr. 8.) Apr. 6-28 (714) 547-4688.

Language of Their Own: OC Register Review

Friday, April 13, 2007
Special to the Register

'Language' of identity, love

"A Language of Their Own" isn't Chay Yew's newest play, but it's certainly among his most elemental in its up-close look at the intertwining nature of love, desire, sexuality and identity.

That the play's themes are so universal may strike some as ironic in that its four characters are gay, with three of them Asian or Asian-American.

In the wrong hands, such material could be reduced to cultural or gender-preference stereotypes. Rude Guerrilla Theater Company's new production, directed by Aurelio Locsin, accents what makes Yew's characters unique – and, by doing so, brings out the 1995 play's dual qualities of humor and humanity.

"Language" opens with the end of a four-year affair between Oscar and Ming, two Chinese of opposite natures and temperaments. Having just learned he's HIV-positive, the analytical, methodical Chinese-born Oscar (Ruffy Landayan) breaks off with the more effeminate, American-born Ming (Nghia Luu).

In asides, Oscar and Ming share their thoughts about the nature of the relationship and the breakup: Which traits they dislike intensely, which they love madly. Oscar, for instance, organizes his world through labels, a quality the more spontaneous Ming loathes.

Ming tumbles headlong into an intense affair with Robert, a white headwaiter in search of a soul mate – preferably Asian. Oscar eventually settles into a comfortable pairing with Daniel, a fashion- and style-crazy young Filipino-American thrilled that his first love is an older man.

The cultural humor that pervades the first half of "A Language of Their Own" evokes roars of laughter, but we're also laughing in empathy of Ming and Oscar's experiences. One doesn't have to be Asian, or gay, to relate to either man, for Yew has found common ground for us all. With a sharp eye for the infinite details of all romantic affairs – before, during and after – the play lays bare this duo's fluttering hearts and innermost feelings, secrets, hopes and fears.

The second half moves into darker territory, introducing us to Robert (David Clark Smith) and Daniel (Dennis Tong). Robert showers Ming with affection and love – yet in his bitterness toward Oscar, Ming sabotages their affair. As AIDS ravishes his body, Oscar becomes more reliant upon Daniel as a caregiver.

Yew's point? It's a lot harder to put an end to any intense affair than it may at first seem – yet attempting to reunite as a couple, and reignite the spark, poses as many hurdles as moving on.

The meditative, poetic "Language" also looks at the excitement of any new relationship, the weight of self-image and shifting emotional and physical needs on any pairing and the pressures of assimilating into American society, with the specter of AIDS as poignant subtext.

Locsin's intuitive feel for the material guides his actors' body language. Yew's eloquent text is rife with short, sharp laugh lines, and equally deft dramatic jabs, and Locsin and company capture the former's laughs and the latter's visceral quality. As eloquent are Jessica Woodard's spare set, which incorporates a yin-yang pattern raised dais and simple yellow backcloth; Lindsey Suits' subtle lighting design; and Alton Cove's sensitive original music.

Landayan's Oscar and Luu's Ming allow us to see the complex mechanisms at work inside each man. Just watch, for example, how Landayan's Oscar politely grits his teeth while describing Ming's new love.

With his delicate features and expressive eyes, Luu communicates Ming's sensuality, catty sarcasm, deceptive ease in engaging in one-night stands and attendant loneliness. More crucially, he shows Ming's deep ambivalence toward love in a post-Oscar world. Landayan shows the more orderly, more inhibited and slightly geeky Oscar's underlying seriousness, his anxiety over losing Ming and the anxiety caused by facing ones mortality.

Smith and Tong give us different takes on the ecstasy of new love, with Smith showing Robert's intense craving for emotional connection and the stability of a monogamous commitment. His Robert can react only with disgust and disillusionment to Ming's insistence upon an open relationship.

Tong gets laughs in all the right places with his flamboyant Daniel, a sunny and seemingly superficial queen – but he also shows the young man's dawning awareness of his role in bringing solace to Oscar's bruised heart and body.

As intriguing as any aspect of "Language" are its many analogies between love and language. Yew likens the process of breaking off with one partner and starting anew with another to unlearning a native language while learning a new one – and, as Robert astutely notes, every happy couple has "a special language of their own that no one else can decipher."

Language of Their Own: LA Times review

LA Times
The complexities of modern love
David C. Nichols

"I can never forget what he said to me," goes the refrain of "A Language of Their Own." Chay Yew's delicate 1995 meditation on love and ethnic identity in the age of AIDS has its precious aspects, but this intriguing Rude Guerrilla Theatre Company staging locates the raw impulses beneath them.

It begins in Boston, where outgoing Ming (Nghia Luu), an assimilated Chinese American, lived with traditionally raised Oscar (Ruffy Landayan) until Oscar ended the relationship after his HIV diagnosis. "We were polite even when breaking up," says Ming in the stream-of-consciousness duologue that constitutes Act 1. While director Aurelio Locsin moves these mismatched lovers in
almost ritual manner around designer Jessica Woodard's yin-yang platform set, ambiguity hovers in the air. The intersecting motivations gain heft through choices of physical placement, and the direct-address interjections juggle heartache and humor.

In Act 2, we meet Ming and Oscar's new partners. Ming hooks up with boyish American waiter Robert (David Clark Smith), while Oscar turns to flamboyant Filipino student Daniel (Dennis Tong). The four-sided fugue of longing that follows builds to a quietly elegiac ending.

Throughout, director Locsin and his invested players attack the emotional poetry with a restraint that counters some blips. Landayan has a narrow vocal range as Oscar, but his measured delivery reveals deep reserves of feeling, and Luu makes Ming's self-absorption almost sympathetic. Tong, whose seriocomic finesse seems effortless, owns the house from his entrance. "A Language of Their Own" is highly specialized, but how it says what it has to say feels very special.