DEAR ARMEN: INTERACTIVE THEATRE

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181 Roundhouse Mews
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada

Garo has been researching Armen Ohanian, an enigmatic Armenian performer and survivor of the twentieth century anti-Armenian pogroms. As the ambiguities surrounding Ohanian’s biography magnify, Garo begins unraveling questions about their own gender and ethnicity. Monologue, Armenian dance, erotic performance, live music, and excerpts from Ohanian’s memoirs weave together a narrative that bridges a century of women and artists.

Extended summary:

Dear Armen follows the story of a genderqueer writer and student, Garo, as they study the life and work of Armen Ohanian, an enigmatic Armenian performer and survivor of the early 20th-century anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku. As Garo grapples with the discrepancies between Ohanian’s biography and memoirs, they are forced to confront memories from the past, unraveling experiences around gender, sexuality, ethnicity, family, and the role of the artist. An interactive-theatre experience integrating a blend of traditional Armenian dance, erotic performance, monologue and live music, Dear Armen weaves together the voices and struggles of three generations of Armenian women. Unveiling fragmented legacies of genocide and displacement, the narrative kaleidoscopes fragments of stories that highlight the complexities of survival.

Ohanian’s story and spirit are embodied in the characters and weaved throughout the narrative, invoking the power and complexity of historical and contemporary Armenian identities. Through experimental theatre and interdisciplinary performance, we reincarnate Ohanian’s life and spirit with movement and sound – demonstrating her ability to transform herself and the audience’s perception of theatre and the erotic. The show will uncover the life of this incredibly productive and unconventional artist, recover the legacy of a woman who brought innovation to Armenian theatre, and connect her story to contemporary histories of performers from various genres.

 

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