CRITICS'FORUM Logo Join  |  Contribute  |  Contact  |  Home      
LiteratureTheaterFilm & MusicVisual Arts About the ForumCritic Profiles
Dec 2015 | Year-End Review: Happy Armenians, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (524 KB)
“Finally!” Of all the compliments that audience members kindly shared with me after seeing my latest play, “Happy Armenians,” this single but altogether-loaded word somehow penetrated deeper and resonated with me longer.

Dec 2011 | Year-End Review: Occupy Armenian Theater, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (175 KB)
In the year-end article I wrote last December – months before the Occupy movement launched in New York and spread to 80 countries – I began a quiet protest, lamenting the state of Armenian theater in our corner of the diaspora and calling for increase – and improvement – in its cultural production. This past year, however, delivered neither quantity nor quality, let alone both.

Dec 2010 | Year-End Review: The Year That Was (Not), by Aram Kouyoumdjian (152 KB)
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.

Dec 2009 | Soaring Satire: The Best of Theater in 2009, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (249 KB)
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.

Jun 2009 | "Truth" Dazzles as Art and Drama, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (274 KB)
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.

Jan 2009 | Theater in '08: The Biggest and the Best, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (24 KB)
It may seem that not much happened in Armenian theater this year except for the revival of works by a certain playwright in commemoration of the centennial of his birth. Yes, it was the Year of Saroyan. But much else did happen in Armenian theater, which was big this year. Quite big.

Oct 2008 | New Play Development - Birthing a Script, and a Community, by Lori Yeghiayan (82 KB)
Plays do not hatch, fully-formed, from the imagination of a playwright, like Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom (and War), bursting forth from Zeus’ skull. No. A longer, more complex birthing process is usually required to nurture a script from idea to first-draft to a script ready for production.

Mar 2008 | Finding the Universal in Ibsen's a Doll House, by Lori Yeghiayan (308 KB)
Question: What does a play, written in Norwegian in 1879 about a woman’s journey toward personhood and freedom from repressive social, gender and class norms, have to do with the Armenian community?

Jan 2008 | The Best of Theater: 7 in '07, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (35 KB)
The practice of handing out awards or issuing “best of” lists to honor artistic achievements certainly has its detractors. These detractors are offended when artists are pitted against each other in “competition,” and they doubt that art can ever be evaluated objectively.

Oct 2007 | Five Solo Flights, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (88 KB)
In what is either an extraordinary trend or an extraordinary coincidence, no less than five female writer/performers of Armenian descent have graced Los Angeles stages this year with solo shows they’ve authored. The number is striking given the relative paucity of Armenian actresses in general and solo performers in particular.

Jun 2007 | Clair de Luna, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (47 KB)
The light of the moon has been shining a little brighter ever since the Luna Playhouse opened its doors in September, traditionally the start of the theater season. As the season formally ends with the onset of summer, the time is opportune to take a look at Luna’s first “year” in existence.

Mar 2006 | The Times of Their Lives, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (63 KB)
The title of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ gritty drama “In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings” doubles as a line spoken by one of its characters, Sammy, the resident drunk of a dive bar. In some ways, Sammy, old and nostalgic with alcohol, can trace his roots back to a barfly in a play from an earlier era.

Dec 2006 | Year in Review, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (33 KB)
Last year, as I looked back on the theater scene of the preceding twelve months, I counted on the fingers of one hand the number of productions by or about Armenians. This year . . .

Sep 2006 | A Triumphant Love's Labor's Lost, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (70 KB)
In some quarters of the literary world, “Love’s Labor’s Lost” is considered one of Shakespeare’s “lesser” comedies. After seeing its recent incarnation by the Actors’ Gang, you’d never believe it. In director Simon Abkarian’s hands, “Love’s Labor’s Lost” (playing through September 30 at the Ivy Substation), is a visual feast of choreography and color that achieves a delicate balance between levity and profundity.

Jun 2006 | Shifting Moods Mark William Saroyan's "Time," by Aram Kouyoumdjian (55 KB)
A harsh reality of theater is that monumental works of drama–say, those with epic-sized casts or taxing technical demands–are rarely produced.

Apr 2006 | Bogosian Double Play, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (29 KB)
To describe a play as “talky” seems rather silly; dialogue, after all, serves as a foundation for drama. Eric Bogosian’s plays, however, are “talky.”

Feb 2006 | "Rumi" Follows Uneven Path to Divine End, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (19 KB)
The Djanbazian Dance Company’s new performance piece, “Rumi: Path to Enlightenment,” began as most major Armenian cultural events do – late – and ended like them too, with a standing ovation. In between, this multimedia work about Jalal ad-Din Rumi, a Persian mystic and poet of the 13th century, navigated both brilliance and tedium on its way to a stunning finale.

Dec 2005 | A Look Back ..., by Aram Kouyoumdjian (27 KB)
Initially, I had hoped to write a year-end article looking back on the best and worst of Armenian theater that I had experienced during the last twelve months. This lofty intention, however, was soon met with the sobering realization that the entire pool of choices consisted of four plays – and one of them was my own.

Nov 2005 | Saroyan's Play No "Day at the Beach," by Aram Kouyoumdjian (20 KB)
Over the course of his decades-long career, Aram Saroyan has achieved a certain status in the world of letters by composing in genres ranging from poetry to fiction to memoir. Now, Saroyan, who has about a dozen published books to his credit, has ventured into drama.

Oct 2005 | Play Dates, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (32 KB)
If I were to tell you that I go to the theater every month with “a large group of friends,” you’d probably think I mean a dozen people. Or maybe 15. Say 20, just to be generous.

Sep 2005 | Homelands Faraway So Close, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (40 KB)
Just as I was preparing to reread Leslie Ayvazian’s “Nine Armenians,” I was handed a copy of a new anthology that surveys plays written in English by authors of Armenian ancestry. “Contemporary Armenian American Drama,” edited by Nishan Parlakian and published by Columbia University Press, is a handsome volume comprised of eight plays culled from the past three decades.

Aug 2005 | Culture Clash in Pera Palas, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (21 KB)
At any given time, even during the slow summer season, the Los Angeles theater scene features at least 100 productions. Armenian theater usually accounts for none of them, although it may occasionally give life to one – say, once every nine months.

Jul 2005 | In Search of Armenian Theater, by Aram Kouyoumdjian (20 KB)
It seems like a simple enough question: “What is Armenian theater?” Indeed, if I intend to write about it, a definition should come easily. But it proves quite elusive. The difficulty does not pertain to dramas written in the Armenian language. Rather, it concerns the works of Armenian playwrights who, in a diasporan setting, compose in the language of an adopted country.

All articles appear in Acrobat PDF format.
You can download Acrobat reader for free by clicking on the button to the left.

    ©  Critics' Forum 2006 - All rights reserved.