Author Archives: Aram Kouyoumdjian

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.

‘Sagayn’ Serves Up Satire

The past 18 months have been, for Vahe Berberian, a period of remarkable theatrical activity. Last year, his feature play “Baron Garbis” played to sold-out audiences. Earlier this year, his collaboration with his Arvest Gang cohorts resulted in “Out of the Cage,” a sketch comedy show of the so-funny-it-hurts variety. Now, Berberian ends a hiatus from his one-man performances by premiering a brand-new Armenian-language monologue entitled “Sagayn” (However), which is packing full houses at Brandview Collection in Glendale on Thursdays (through August 13).

Critics’ Forum: ‘Truth’ Dazzles as Art and Drama

The title of Vasken Brudian’s latest exhibit, “Of Art and Architecture: A Contemporary Discourse,” which opened on June 19, speaks to the artist’s dual talents. Brudian’s sophisticated art combines hand painting and architectural design, sprinkled with lines from literature. The mixed-media creations that result are coated with sublime colors – for me, the deep reds, haunting blues, and shades of orange take on symbolic significance – and reveal truths among layers that dazzle gradually.

The Guards Of Treasures: A Review of the Guards of Ruins

Who says you need a theater in order to stage a play? Arena Productions certainly didn’t need one for its excellent rendition of Gourgen Khanjian’s “Averagneri Bahagneruh” (The Guards of Ruins). The determined troupe, under the direction of Anahid Aramouni Keshishian, simply pitched a platform and scenic backdrop on the grounds of an adult day care center for an open-air presentation of the Armenian-language play that ended its three-weekend run last night.