BY SHAGHIG – SHERRY FESTEKJIAN
Vahe Berberian’s “The Pink Elephant” is a ‘play within a play’ that is set in the eighties surrounded by the grim background of the brutal Lebanese Civil War.
It’s about a group of thespians, who gather on stage, to rehearse before opening night. Between disheartenment and fear, the cast listens to the directors persistent please of perseverance, while the bloodcurdling sounds of falling bombs and the anticipation of death lurks around them.
Regardless, they continue to rehearse their scenes, while they argue and bicker in a dialogue copious of the playwright’s humor and wit.
The plot is lucid, yet clever. It’s a piece that evokes nostalgia in those who have experienced the unfortunate circumstances of war, whether in the past or present. It’s depiction of the dark human conditions of survival and debates of existence and purpose are beautifully knitted into a comedic fabric that’s both entertaining and worthy of contemplating.
Then again, who better can draw the light from darkness than Vahe Berberian?
The play is once more in production and will be performed August 11,12 and 13 at ARTN Theatre in Glendale, California. It is adapted and directed by Levon Shant Demirjian. Music is by the amazing Ara Dabanjian and Set Design by the talented Sevag Mahserejian.
Needless to say, an intricate play of this sort requires a professional cast. After all, the characters are complex and most play multiple personalities. However, it is with deep pride that I announce, that almost the entire cast are a group of young teenagers from Holy Martyrs Ferrahian High School! Nareg Kuyumjian, Alex Kassamanian, Marinor Balouzian, Hagop Balekyan, Sevoulig Bastilian, Sarkis Semerjian & Puzant Berberian
I must admit, I was filled with apprehension and worry at first, but all it took were two rehearsals and my heart bloomed into a million flowers of delight and hope.
Our Armenian language is not easy. It’s a lot of work, to not only memorize lines and monologues but to perfect projection, annunciation and pronunciation of not so commonly spoken Armenian words in an American-Armenian community. Acting is not easy. It takes courage to stand before and audience and breath life into a character, while making sure not to forget to breath yourself! It truly is a breath of fresh air to see a group of determined Armenian youths collaborating together artistically and performing an Armenian play in the heart of Los Angeles.
Of course, the true miracle worker is their director, the talented actor Levon Shant Demirjian (Armenian Improv) who has adapted the play and guided these younglings on stage calmly and passionately. “The Pink Elephant” being his directorial debut, Levon Shant took an incredible challenge and his efforts have already blossomed into a group of fine and brave young thespians. A chapeau bas to Ferrahian as well, This half century old Armenian school who has birthed generations of successful, dutiful and dedicated Armenians, has proven once more that it is still capable of producing gems, continues in its assiduity in serving the community and remains a beacon for past and future generations.
Finally, this leads me to address the ‘elephant’ in the room! We, Armenians, are a people of art. We have withstood the time lines of history by song and dance, by the strokes of a paintbrush or the gilding of a pen. Theres no point denying that in every one of us there’s a little artist that wants to sing, dance, act, paint, write; do anything that expresses our senses and sensibility. There’s an entertainer in all of us that wants to perform or in the very least comprehends and appreciates a good performance. Art is compassion and humanity and right now the world is in dire need of both. Therefore it is time to start a renaissance movement (Zartonk) and address the arts more seriously in all out Armenian schools.
After all, “Earth without art is just ‘Eh!” and if a group of younglings from Ferrahian can, fearlessly and without prior stage experience, tackle a Vahe Berberian play, just imagine what else they can do with the proper training and guidance?
Do no hesitate to go see Vahe Berberian’s masterpiece ‘The Pink Elephant’, and support our youth. The proceeds from the play will help establish a permanent Armenian Theatre Program at Ferrahian high school.
For tickets and info please go to Itsmyseat.com/PinkElephant.