Ardavazt Theatre Presented Baronian’s “The Perils of Politeness”

(Left to right) Hratch Ajemian, Raffi Kalamkarian, Roupen Harmandayan, Serge Khorchidian, Krikor Satamian (standing on the chair).

While this news may be a little older than we’re accustomed to posting on the AGBU blog, we couldn’t help but share the great photos and news that the Ardavast Theatre Company of Southern California revived a play by the great Armenian playwright Hagop Baronian (1843-88), which they performed for over 3,700 audience members during 11 performances in 2009 and 2010.

(Left to right) Narine Avakian, Jack Khorchidian, Ari Libaridian, Arpi Libaridian, Raffi Kalamkarian, Maro Ajemian. (click to enlarge)

The AGBU Ardavazt Theatre Company presented a new two-act production of the immortal satirist Hagop Baronian’s “Kaghakavarutian Vnasnere” (The Perils of Politeness), which was originally written as a prose piece and published serially in Khigar monthly of Constantinople from 1886 to1888. This enduring satire by Baronian pokes fun at the undesirable manners and mores of all classes of society in Constantinople: bourgeois mentality, depravity, base flattery, nouveau riche behavior. However, since these human foibles manifest themselves even today, the play’s popularity has not diminished at all, despite the passage of almost a century and a quarter

Skillfully dramatized by Krikor Satamian and directed by John Samuelian, this production involving 28 talented thespians ran on Saturday and Sunday evenings from November 21 to December 20, 2009, with ten performances at the AGBU Alex Manoogian Center in Pasadena, drawing enthusiastic audiences than numbered more than 2,500 in total.

(Left to right) Aram Muratyan, Hratch Ajemian, Sarmen Keshishian, Alex Khorchidian, Krikor Simonian, Harout Fakejian. (click to enlarge)

Subsequently, acceding to the request of the AGBU Saturday School of Orange County, Ardavazt gave a repeat performance on January 24, 2010 at the Ghougassian Hall of the Forty Martyrs Apostolic Church, to the delight of more than 240 attendees, most of whom stayed on to enjoy a delicious meal with the theater cast. This was followed by the impromptu rendition of humorous anecdotes, readings and skits by members of the group, beginning with producer-director Krikor Satamian himself.

Ardavazt’s production of “The Perils of Politeness,” which coincided with the group’s 30th anniversary, invariably drew rave reviews in all the Los Angeles Armenian press. In “’Kaghakavarutian Vnasnere’ Mnayun Shahe Tadronin” [‘The Perils of Politeness’: The Theater’s Lasting Gain] (Nor Or, December 10, 2009), Vache Semerjian writes: “Ardavazt’s production is a first-class success.” In “HPEMi ‘Ardavazt’ Taderakhumpe Hachoghutiamp Nergayatsuts ‘Kagakavarutian Vnasnere’” [AGBU’s Ardavazt Theatre Company Successfully Presented ‘The Perils of Politeness’] (Asbarez, December 18, 2009), Kevork Bedigian writes: “The transformation of this satirical series to a two-act play with two main characters [Melidos Aga and Kamig Aga] is most commendable.” In “Kaghakavarutian Vnasnere” [The Perils of Politeness] (Nor Hayastan, December 11, 2009), Vahan Vahanian writes: “Our ‘Kaghakavarutian Vnasnere’ constituted a successful play owing to the outstanding acting of the cast.” In “Hagop Baroniani ‘Kaghakavarutian Vnasnere’ Nergayatsume” [The Presentation of Hagop Baronian’s ‘The Perils of Politeness’] (Nor Gyank, December 10, 2009), Krikor Shenian writes: “Krikor Satamian’s superiority lies in his ability to get the 28 actors and actresses to play their roles in concert with him.” In “Safe Path for ‘Perils’” (Asbarez, December 14, 2009), Aram Kouyoumdjian writes: “The revival of an Armenian classic is always welcome, and this particular revival was probably overdue.”

As reported by Dr. A. Kazanjian in “Shnorhagalutiun ‘Kaghakavarutian Vnasnere’ Nergayatsman Hamar” [Thanks for the Presentation of ‘The Perils of Politeness’] (Massis, November 28, 2009), the following are a few of the comments made by individuals after seeing “The Perils of Politeness”: “We laughed steadily and to our heart’s content for an hour or two”; “We enjoyed ourselves continually, forgetting our worries”; “Believe me, Hagop Baronian cheered us up for a couple of hours.”

Followers of Ardavazt Theatre Company are now looking forward to its upcoming production of one-act satires by Moliere and Feydeau.


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