The word “showstopper” is often used loosely and, as a result, its meaning has come to be diluted. A true “showstopper” is a moment in a play or a musical so wondrous that the prolonged applause it inspires actually brings the performance to a halt.
The great Armenian satirist Hagop Baronian wrote about the foibles of the Armenian bourgeoisie in Constantinople during the latter half of the 19th century, skewering that echelon for its materialistic and ostentatious tendencies. Since such tendencies still prevail in present-day Armenian-American communities, Baronian’s century-old plays could have contemporary relevance.
Performances of exceptional caliber were the defining feature of the Armenian Theater Festival organized by the Hamazkayin Educational & Cultural Society last week. The triumphs belonged to the talented ranks of the “Sos Sargsyan” State Theater Company of Armenia, which made its U.S. debut less than a month after its illustrious namesake passed away at the age of 84.
In her first autobiographical solo work, “Ka yev Chka” (There Is and There Isn’t), Anahid Aramouni Keshishian recounted her early life in pre-revolution Iran; now, six years later, she has returned with a sequel, “There Is and There Isn’t II,” which picks up her story at the time of her family’s immigration to Soviet Armenia and traces her years there until her eventual settlement in the United States.
Anyone who feared that the renaming of the Ardavazt Theatre Company last summer would signal a turn away from its history of staging low-brow farces can rest easy. Anyone who hoped that the newly-christened Krikor Satamian Theater Group would usher in an era of sophisticated fare can brace for disappointment.
An article I wrote at last year’s end examined the “balkanization” of Armenian theater – that is, its tendency to serve fragmented segments of the community, comprised of Armenians from Armenia and from Iran (who speak dialects of Eastern Armenian), and Armenians from countries of the Middle East (who speak Western Armenian dialects).