Sunday, 22 February 2009

A Girl's War: An Armenian-Azeri Love Story (theatre play)

Long before Artush and Zaur, there was this fascinating (based on description, see below) award winning theatre play by Armenian-American playwright Joyce Van Dyke. This is a taboo breaking heterosexual love story between Armenian and Azerbaijani against the backdrop of Karabakh war. I wish I could see the play. May be they could submit it for the annual HayFest international theatre festival in Yerevan which is known for alternative, thought-provoking plays (to be held on 1-10 October this year).

Golden Thread Productions is proud to present the West Coast premiere of Armenian-American playwright Joyce Van Dyke's award-winning play, A Girl's War. This love story of opposite sides was first produced at Boston Playwrights' Theatre in 2001. Named one of the "top ten" plays of the year by the Boston Globe, A Girl's War won the John Gassner Playwriting and the Provincetown Theatre Company Playwriting Awards.

Written by Joyce Van Dyke, directed by Torange Yeghiazarian, featuring Ana Bayat, Adrian Mejia, Zarif Sadiqi, Simon Vance and Bella Warda (artists bios)

Date: February 14 - March 8, 2009
Venue: Thick House, 1695 18th St, San Francisco

During a stormy fashion shoot, Anna Sarkisian, a New York fashion model, learns that her younger brother has been killed by enemy soldiers in her native Karabakh in the Caucasus Mountains. In the Armenian enclave of Karabakh, formerly part of the Soviet Union, an unresolved civil war still smolders between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. The war has already killed Anna's older brother and driven her mother into the army. Anna decides to return home to her village for the first time in 15 years. Living with her fiercely partisan Armenian mother in the bombed ruin of her childhood home, Anna defiantly refuses to identify herself with the Armenian cause. Tensions ignite when Ilyas, a young Azeri deserter shows up, claiming to be a former neighbor. Anna and Ilyas, powerfully drawn to one another, become lovers in secret. The competing desires of love and vengeance, fueled by jealousy, propel the characters toward an explosive climax with tragic consequences.

*Thanks to Q-Hye (San Franicsco LGBT Armenian group) for the info


Onnik Krikorian said...

Nice find. Your blog must be the ONLY one that publishes entries of any interest and which usually are not available in a generally mediocre, polarized, amateurish and worthless local and Diaspora press.

artmika said...

Loving the enemy

A Girl's War and Waitin' 2 End Hell cast relationships in, and as, war zones

By Robert Avila

The San Francisco Bay Guardian, Feb 25, 2009

REVIEW Nation, ethnicity, family, friends, gender, lover — where do our true loyalties lie? More to the point, when our multiple loyalties slip out of concentric orbit and collide, how much say do we really have in the matter? These questions arise provocatively from two very different plays making their Bay Area premieres.

In the first, Golden Thread's generally sturdy West Coast premiere of Joyce Van Dyke's A Girl's War: An Armenian-Azeri Love Story, an aging Armenian American fashion model, Anna (Ana Bayat), returns to the war-torn village of her youth determined not to be affected by the ongoing ethnic strife that has just taken the life of her brother (Adrian Cervantes Mejia) and racked the Azerbaijani region of Karabakh since the late 1980s — converting her stolid yet hot-tempered mother (Bella Warda) into a machine gun–toting foot soldier for the Armenian cause. Almost flaunting her own aloofness and disapproval, Anna even resists calling herself Armenian and soon falls in love with a returning member of her family's onetime Azeri neighbors, now antagonists: a passionate young deserter (Zarif Kabeir Sadiqi) who arrives stealthily one day at her mother's house, which he and his family briefly occupied years before.

Van Dyke's 2001 play opens on a world seemingly apart, however, as Brit fashion photographer Stephen (Simon Vance) snaps photos of the still-striking Anna, his old flame and muse, glowering at him in some haute-couture idea of battle garb. The contrast is key and works its way into the second setting in Karabakh, when Stephen and his cheerful but recently shaken assistant Tito (Mejia) arrive after escaping anti-U.S. feelings during a harrowing trip to Turkey. Here in her mother's house, Anna's two worlds collide even as she insists she needs no land, passport, or language to define her. Her stoic but long-suffering mother, however, shows little patience for her daughter's flighty Western cosmopolitanism, and we are left with our own sympathies unsettled, fraternizing with all sides.

Along the way, the play neatly works a certain doubling conceit. The same actor playing the Italian American Tito, for instance, also plays Anna's recently deceased brother, a spectral presence in the form of the far more severe but equally sensitive Seryozha. The implications are subtle rather than crude, suggesting the dramatic shaping done by circumstance across a universal segment of young manhood. And the climax, in yet another doubling, underscores the point resonantly, as another two seemingly very different characters lie side by side, brought together in death — the most democratic of states — and made mirror images of each other. It's an effect that might have been overplayed, but under artistic director Torange Yeghiazarian's confident direction it happily comes off with matter-of-fact simplicity. The play as a whole succeeds in similar fashion, overshadowing, if not altogether escaping, its more maudlin and moralizing tendencies with fitting dramatic tension, unexpected twists, and thematic delicacy. [...]

Through March 8
Thurs.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; $15–$25
Thick House
1695 18th St., SF

*thanks to Onnik for this link