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Department of Theatre and Dance

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Language of Angels | February 15-18, 2024

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The USC Theatre Program will present Naomi Iizuka’s haunting drama Language of Angels February 15-18 at the Lab Theatre.  

Show times are at 8pm February 15-17 and 3pm February 18. Tickets are $10 and are available online at or at the door.  The Lab Theatre is located at 1400 Wheat St. on the first floor of the Booker T. Washington building. Language of Angels contains strong adult themes and language and is not appropriate for children.

Set in the hills of Appalachia, Language of Angels is a modern-day folk tale that takes us into the liminal space between life and death, past and present. Acclaimed playwright Naomi Iizuka (Polaroid Stories) poetically weaves together the individual remembrances of a group of friends whose lives and tragic fates have become inextricably linked to the mysterious disappearance of their friend, Celie, years prior. “With Language of Angels, Iizuka has created a Rashomon-like meditation on the nature of memory, grief and passing time.” – The Seattle Times

Guest artist Abigail Lee McNeely, a 2017 alum of the USC theatre program, is directing the production. Since graduating, McNeely’s career has flourished at Columbia’s Trustus Theatre, where she has directed several productions, performed, and been a member of sketch comedy/improv troupe, The Mothers. While she recently served as Associate Director for USC’s 2023 production of Little Shop of Horrors, Language of Angels marks a return to McNeely’s campus theatre roots, as she directed and performed in several productions in the Lab Theatre “black box” venue during her undergraduate tenure.

“I love the Lab Theatre,” McNeely says. “I have seen the many magical things that we can do in that small space, and this piece is perfect for it.” 

Making theatre magic in the intimate performance space is certainly on the bill for Language of Angels, which introduces ghostly elements of the supernatural to tell its suspenseful tale of crime and punishment. Playwright Iizuka has said she was loosely inspired by elements of Japanese Noh theatre, whose stories commonly involve ghosts and spirits, in creating the play. 

“There’s a very thin veil between real life and the afterlife [in the play],” McNeely says. “The characters in this play are haunted, in every sense of the word, whether that’s from an actual ghost or the grief and guilt they carry.” 

“It’s very ephemeral,” she adds. “Naomi Iizuka has an otherworldly way of storytelling that leaves so much up to interpretation, both for us as theatre makers and for the audience. Audiences will get to interpret what happens however they want, which is really lovely.” 

The show’s all undergraduate cast includes Joshua Cook, Jake Downs, Emalee Goode, Sunni Greene, Koby Hall, Ash Leland, Parker Walsh, and Olivia Wamai.

“It’s an incredibly emotional story, but also suspenseful at times,” McNeely says. “People who love ghost stories, who love true crime, or just love theatre will find that this is beautiful storytelling…and a wonderful character piece for some incredibly talented actors at USC.” 

For more information on Language of Angels or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at  


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