Author Archives: Aram Kouyoumdjian

Critics Forum: The Year That Was (Not)

Hard to believe, but for the first nine months of the past year, Armenian theater in Southern California practically did not exist. It seemed as if all its key producers – aside from the Ardavazt Theater Company, which revived a pair of one-acts – had decided to stage … their own disappearance. Indeed, finding an Armenian play proved about as likely as encountering a unicorn.

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.