MONTEBELLO, California—A magical night took place in Montebello, Sunday evening, on November 8th. You could hear a pin drop as an attentive crowd of over 600 watched a staged reading of Displacement written by Shauna Vartanian and expertly directed by film and theatre director, Von Kochar.
The crowd gasped as Bianca Bagatourian, founder of Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance, also the dramaturg on the play, read a tribute from Haig Mardikian. Haig’s father, George Mardikian, portrayed in the play, was the founder of The American National Committee to Aid Homeless Armenians (ANCHA) and is the most beloved man amongst the Armenians who were saved from Stalin’s persecution. Ken Davitian played George Mardikian in the play and gave a deeply moving performance as he made an entrance down the middle aisle of the hall, shaking hands with the crowd before stepping onto the stage to present a prideful monologue.
The special one-night reading of Displacement, took place with a stellar cast, Ramy Zada, series lead and guest starred T.V.: Dark Justice, N.Y.P.D. Blue, has starred opposite Kathleen Turner and worked with John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, played the patriarch Gulbank brilliantly. Bianca Bagatourian, a natural actor, took over the role of Shushan for Adriana Sevahn Nichols who was taken ill. . An emotional performance aptly displayed by Jade Hykush as Shushanik was dedicated to her DP family, mother Helen, her late father, actor producer, director Sirak Ohanesian and “to all the DPs who came to America, and created a beautiful life.” Additional talent on stage was displayed by the versatile, Hrach Titizian, Mad Men, Homeland, Anne Bedian, Curb Your Enthusiasm, NCIS, and Dylan Nalbandian who was a part of the original reading of Displacement at the Pasadena Playhouse two years ago, and was proud to return to this important play about his Armenian heritage once again. The play also introduced, Sophie Avedikian, a local actress from the Montebello community.
Displacement opens with a wedding with Shiraz Savoian vibrantly displaying the Shalako dance. A dazzling performance, of traditional Russian and Armenian folk music, rarely heard was performed by Greg Hosharian on accordion, Peter Hosharian on clarinet, and George Bilezikjian and several types of folk drums.
The play presented the message, much like the famous Saroyan quote, that in spite of all difficulties, Armenian’s will always persevere by creating a new Armenia wherever they meet. The evening ended with David Ghoogasian, Principal of the Armenian Mesrobian School presented a plague to Shauna Vartanian for writing the play. He described how the vibrant Montebello community of Armenians began with the Russian Armenian DPs installing churches, schools and monuments in the city.
Shauna Vartanian thanked Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, The Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral for hosting the event, the Mesrobian Support Group along with generous sponsors who helped bring this story home to her community in Montebello. The evening ended with a standing ovation followed by a reception in Bagramian Hall. For a DVD copy of the event or more information about the play, Displacement, and how to bring it to your community, contact: Shauna Vartanian at 626.487.3202.