NEW HAVEN, Conn.—This month, the Yale Dramatic Association will present its Spring Ex Production, “ERMENI,” a play about an Armenian American family in the aftermath of the Armenian genocide. Written by Yale senior Eric Sirakian, directed by Yale senior Noam Shapiro and produced by Yale sophomore Jill Carrera, the play will run at the Yale Repertory Theatre March 26th-28th at 8 p.m. and March 28th at 2 p.m.
Featuring an all-student cast, “ERMENI” tells the story of Ani — an Armenian American college student — who brings her Turkish boyfriend Taner home to her family in October of 1970. An argument about history turns into a family crisis as Ani’s grandmother suffers a heart attack and must be hospitalized. When Taner visits the hospitalized old woman to make peace, their unexpected friendship sparks much more: a journey into the past, and the revelation of a long-buried family secret.
“Beyond its beautiful structure, characterization, and language, ‘ERMENI’ transcends a singular call to remember what happened to the Armenian people,” Shapiro said. “It is a call to our conscience. ‘ERMENI’ straddles past and the present as it speaks of distant actions that still reverberate in our lives today.”
With the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, Sirakian’s ERMENI poses questions about history, identity, and memory at a salient moment for Armenian studies and culture. An additional panel discussion about the centenary of the Armenian Genocide will therefore take place at 5 p.m. on March 28 in the Yale Rep lobby.
Panelists will include University of Michigan professor of Sociology Fatma Gocek and Yale professor of History Jay Winter, who will examine the modern-day reverberations of the Armenian Genocide from differing historical perspectives. The discussion is hosted by the Genocide Studies Program at Yale.
“As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,” Shapiro added, “We believe that Eric Sirakian’s play will contribute to a universal conversation about how to reconcile two narratives — those of love and hate, friend and foe, me and you — and, perhaps, find a way to move forward.”
Director Noam Shapiro is a double-major in history and theater studies with a focus on 20th Century Europe and cultural memory. His productions at Yale include “The Trojan Women,” “The Crucible,” “Circle Mirror Transformation,” and “Cabaret.” Playwright Eric Sirakian is also an actor, writer, and director, and a double-major in English and theater studies. He has written plays and the book for a musical that will premiere at Yale in April. His playwriting mentors at Yale include Sarah Ruhl and Donald Margulies.
“The actors and the creative team for ‘ERMENI’ truly represent Yale at its best,” Sirakian said. “I feel so honored and blessed to mount the first production of my play, which has been developed here at Yale for the past year and a half, with their help.”
The Dramat, an organization devoted to teaching students and producing fine theatre, is one of the oldest undergraduate theatre organizations in the country, and one of only a few that is entirely student-run. The Dramat puts on seven productions each year, and over 250 students work on these shows each year, learning from and teaching others in areas ranging from financial management to production design.