20th Anniversary Revival of ‘Sojourn At Ararat’

The Fountain Theater performance poster

A Play Created and Originally Performed by Gerald Papasian and Nora Armani

LOS ANGELES–The multi-award-winning Fountain Theatre presents the second production of their 2007 Summer Armenian Festival, the 20th anniversary revival of :Sojourn at Ararat,” created and originally performed by Gerald Papasian and Nora Armani; and starring the “next generation” of actors Korken Alexander and Mary Kate Schellhardt. :Sojourn at Ararat” continues for ten weeks through Sunday, August 12 at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. in Los Angeles.
A young Armenian couple in love express the beauty, joy and passion of their beloved country through the dazzling magic of its poetry. The history of a forgotten people in search of an Identity and a home, are revealed through the simple love story of a man and a woman in this ode to life, where the absurdity of conflicts and war is depicted with scathingly humorous and poignantly nostalgic momen’s of sublime literature. The international award-winning sensation–seen on four continents in over 25 cities–returns to Los Angeles for its 20th Anniversary Revival. This show, about identity, home and love which brings to life the soul of the Armenian people is the centerpiece of the Fountain’s Summer Armenian Festival. :Sojourn at Ararat” has received many accolades and awards and a recording of the original cast is now available on CD and will soon be available on DVD (www.pemart.org).
It originally premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe with its creators, Gerald Papasian and Nora Armani. Papasian and Armani recently performed the French version in France and still continue the English version on tour. Ms. Armani has directed the “next” generation of actors passing the torch so the show can live on for future generations and in many places.

About the Creative Team
NORA ARMANI (Director, Co-Creator and Original Performer) Born in Egypt of Armenian parents NORA ARMANI was educated in England. As an actor she has appeared on stage and screen worldwide performing in different languages. Her own stage creations Sojourn at Ararat (with Gerald Papasian), Nannto Nannto, On the Couch with Nora Armani and Snowflakes in April have garnered international accolades. Stage includes: Beyond the Veil (Off-Broadway), Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising (Arcola-London), The King and I (Cairo), Arms and the Man (Young Vic-London). Films & TV include: Enchanted, The Doors of Denis, Le N?flier, La Nouvelle Eve, Deadline in Seven Days, Last Station, Labyrinth, Casualty (BBC) and Friends (EG-TV). Training with: Ariane Mnoushkine (Theatre du Soleil), Yoshi Oyda (CIRT), Simon McBurney (Complicity Theatre) and RADA. Nora Armani has a B.A. in Directing (minor) from the American University in Cairo, and M.Sc. from the University of London (LSE).
Directorial work includes: Jean-Jacques Varoujean’s Forest at the Bottom of the Sea (Paris), Thornton Wilder’s Bernice (Off-Broadway), Snowflakes in April (Chicago, Detroit), Last Station (feature film). Her poems and essays are published in anthologies and literary journals. Her plays are broadcast on French radio. Awards: Best Performance & Creation (Armenia), Best Actress in film for Labyrinth (Armenia) and two Drama-Logue awards for Performance and Creation for Sojourn at Ararat. She is an Honorary Member of the National Theatre of Armenia. After Los Angeles (1981-1993) and Paris (since 1993), Nora currently divides her time between New York and London.

GERALD PAPASIAN (Co-Creator and Original Performer) Born in Egypt into a musical and artistic family from Cairo and Alexandria, he studied at the Armenian School in Cairo, then in Cyprus, at the Melkonian Educational Institute. He pursued his higher education at the Yerevan State Fine and Dramatic Arts Institute from where he graduated with an MFA in Acting and Directing in 1976. During the 80’s, Gerald Papasian dedicated his time to translations (into English and French) and presentations of Armenian works on international stages. Gerald Papasian is a visiting lecturer at the University of Venice for the department of Armenian language, headed by Prof. Levon Zekiyian. He has also taught acting, directing and history of theatre at the University of La Verne in California for 5 years and has published numerous articles. Gerald lived in Hollywood from 1980-90, working on film and TV as an actor and created Sojourn at Ararat with Nora Armani. He is founder/director of the Dikran Tchouhadjian Research Centre in Paris, where he restored and published Tchouhadjian’s opera Arshak II, World Premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 2001. Directorial work: Armen Tigranian’s Opera Anoush, at the Michigan Opera Theatre (1981 & 2001) coined Best of the M.O.T. season, Taparnigos Ladies’Dentist at the Firmin G?mier and D?jazet Theatres in Paris, Tchouhadjian’s Garine Operetta, at the Gymnase Theatre in Paris. As an actor he has performed in Les Fourberies de Scapin (Argante) at Ch?teau de Grignan and Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setchouan (God) directed by Irina Brook, Palais de Chaillot National Theatre and on tour. Nicola? Gogol’s The Inspector General, Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour Lost, A Winter’s Tale, Measure for Measure, and most recently A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Th??tre des Bouffes du Nord (Avignon 2007 and on tour 2007 ‘s 2008). Gerald Papasian has been based in Paris since 1993, where he pursues his acting and directing career for the stage, cinema and television.

About the Cast and Design Team
This production’s cast of :Sojourn at Ararat” features:
Korken Alexander (He) hails from sunny Philadelphia, PA and feels blessed to be part of this incredible production. He recently performed in Gershwin’s Tip Toes (Whitefire Theatre) and Stella Adler Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Secret Rose Theatre). Other theatre credits include: Larry in Closer, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (ITL award), and Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady. He studies with Kimberly Jentzen and has a BA in musical theatre (University of Miami).
Mary Kate Schellhardt (She) graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in Drama. Theatre credits include The Marriage of Figaro, Red Noses, Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Tempest, Miss Julie and Winesburg, Ohio. On film, she played Barbara Lovell in the movie "Apollo 13," and can be seen in the movies "Free Willy II" and "What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” She has also appeared on the TV shows "Scrubs" and "Windfall.”
The production has assembled an award-winning design team. Set Design is by Maro Parian. Lighting Design is by Henrik Mansourian. Costume Design is by Maro Parian. Sound Design is by Nora Armani (after original design by Gerald Papasian). The Music was composed by Armenian composers such as Komitas, Sayat Nova, Khatchatourian, Yardoumian, Hosharian, and popular Armenian tunes. The original sound track was recorded by Shahe Saghbazarian.
“Sojourn at Ararat” opened on Saturday, June 9 at 8pm and will run for ten weeks through Sunday, August 12 at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. in Los Angeles. Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. in Los Angeles.
Ticket prices are $25 for Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.; $28 for Saturdays at 8 p.m.. Students with ID tickets are $18. For tickets, please call 323-663-1525 or visit www.fountaintheatre.com.


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