Author Archives: Aram Kouyoumdjian

Lunar Eclipse

Staging the ubiquitous Richard Kalinoski play “Beast on the Moon” is an inherently risky proposition. The script – about two Armenians orphaned during the Genocide who try to build a new life together in America – may be poignant, but it frequently overdoses on sentiment. Directors and actors must actually resist its saccharine tendencies in order to deliver a successful production, as a beautifully restrained and moving Off-Broadway rendition proved a few years ago. However, a current revival by Malabar Hill Films (at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre through October 17) not only exposes the flaws in Kalinoski’s writing, it exacerbates them with problematic performances and grievous directorial missteps.

Flawed French Farces

“If Satamian isn’t in them, they won’t be good.” So pronounced the elderly stranger sitting next to me as we prepared to watch a pair of one-acts – Armenian translations of French farces – staged by the Ardavazt Theater Company in Pasadena. She was referring to Krikor Satamian, the veteran actor who serves as the troupe’s artistic director.

Titizian Roars in ‘Bengal Tiger’

After a triumphant premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City last year, Rajiv Joseph’s mesmerizing play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” has graduated to the Mark Taper Forum. All the original cast members, including Hrach Titizian, have returned for the new production, which opened on April 25 and plays through May 30.

Soaring Satire: The Best of Theater In 2009

This year’s trend in Armenian theater had to be satire, given that it seemed to thread virtually every significant production of the past 12 months. It appeared in both Armenian- and English-language scripts, in original scripts and revivals of classic scripts, and it served as the sign of a maturing theater community that not only entertains its surrounding society, but enlightens it by exposing its follies. Here, I take a look back at the best of these theatrical offerings – the ones that stood out for piercing wit and potency.

Theatre Review: Safe Path For ‘Perils’

ven at its height, the Armenian literary renaissance of the 19th century did not produce many dramatists, but it did beget Hagop Baronian, who remains our best known – if not best – satirist. Baronian’s milieu was the Bolis – or Constantinople – of the Ottoman Era, and his writing was devoted to skewering the Armenian bourgeoisie that burgeoned there during the decades preceding massacres and genocide.

Theatre Review: A Hunger Artist

Even at the height of William Saroyan’s career as a playwright, in the late 1930s and early 1940s, his critics took issue with the sense of optimism in his Depression-era works. The prominent Marxist critic Philip Rahv mocked Saroyan’s “formula of innocence” as “the formula of ‘Ah, the wonder, the beauty of it all!’” and decried the “fairy-tale aspect” of his plays.

Derelian Reigns as ‘Coriolanus’

Truth be told, Shakespeare’s script for the historical tragedy “Coriolanus” does not qualify among his best; in fact, the plodding text often makes for drab reading and perhaps explains why the play is infrequently staged.  None of that stops director Darko Tresnjak from delivering a visually and emotionally rich production of the play at San

Theater Review: Good Laughs in ‘Bad Armo’

Is Armenian theater in Los Angeles maturing in a way that it can hold up a mirror to the community in which it thrives and satirize its follies? There are signs of this. Earlier this year, the Arvest Gang served up “Out of the Cage,” a splendid evening of sketch comedy, in Armenian, that skewered various attributes of our collective ethnic existence. Then came “The Big Bad Armo Show,” comedienne Lory Tatoulian’s impressive pastiche of skits, in English, which ended a limited encore engagement at Casitas Studios in Atwater on Saturday night.