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Arts & Culture - Armenian Reporter

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November 15, 2008

November 15, 2008

arts the armenian

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Silva Hakobyan:

Twenty and irresistable

Yerevan’s

fresh

culture

Page C9

Artyom Manukyan:

young, innovative, and

a true musician in every

sense of the word

Page C4

The pull

of “Push”

Page C10


The Audacity of Calling

by Lory

Bedikian

After big events, or small celebrations,

large obstacles or tiny tribulations, I go

to poetry. I go to poetry as one would

go to a big brother or sister, and I sit

and listen with eager ears, with humbled

eyes. Since my younger days, I have always

turned to the books on my shelf,

to favorite poets to see if their poems in

some way could mirror what I’m feeling

or going through. Perhaps it’s a way to

ensure that we are not alone in our emotions

or reactions, and that we can relate

to something larger than ourselves.

The presidential election on November

4 seemed to be one of the most important

events not only this year but in

our history. Much of the world rejoiced,

while of course others were disappointed

that their chosen candidate did not

win. One thing remains certain, and

that is the feeling that there was a call

and answer in some form or another.

During all the hullabaloo of the campaign

so many terms and messages were

constantly being used, including “Hope,”

“Change,” “Progress,” and other optimistic

generalities. After the outcome was

announced, I began to look through my

collections, as usual, to see if there was

a poem or poems that expressed what

seemed to be in the air, from the United

States to countries far away.

Of course, I found many poems discussing

hope and victory and all those

good feelings, but it was an understated

poem, “Call,” by Yuri Sahakyan, that

seemed to remind me of what I had

learned from this time period. (I have no

idea, of course, of what Sahakyan would

feel toward the election.) It’s a poem

that reminds the reader that when we

need someone to hear our plea, all we

have to do is call out and patiently wait

for a response.

Call. Surely someone will hear.

The trees blossom in the spring.

The rivers flood.

Call. Someone will hear.

The birds that went south return

bearing the sun on their backs.

And dreams return, and repeat themselves.

Call. Someone surely will hear.

All roads that seem to stretch forever

end in dreams of home.

All yearning reaches into the setting sun.

Call. Surely someone will hear.

Lory Bedikian received her MFA in poetry from the

University of Oregon. Her collection of poetry has

twice been selected as a finalist in the Crab Orchard

Series in Poetry Open Competition and twice in

the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award

Competition.

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture

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Sahakyan – poet and translator – was

born in 1937 in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In this short poem we can see that

Sahakyan uses repetition of the word

“call” to create his own version of calling

out to us as readers. And the speaker, in

each stanza, reassures us that “surely”

someone will hear the yells, the hollering

voice. Sahakyan though does not rely

merely on generalities. He also gives us

specific images such as “trees” and “rivers.”

He reminds us of things that we

have always depended on, whether it

is the return of birds that have flown

south or the setting sun. In other words,

just as we have relied on such things, we

should also rely on the fact that a call

Event marks 30th

anniversary of Abril

Bookstore

GLENDALE, Calif. – The Abrink Festival

of Armenian Literature and Culture

will make its debut on the weekend of

November 22 at the Glendale Central

Library. The two-day event is being organized

to mark the 30th anniversary

of Glendale’s Abril Bookstore. (See Lory

Bedikian’s interview with Abril’s Arno

Yeretsian in the Community pages of

this week’s Reporter.)

Featuring acclaimed writers, artists,

singers, filmmakers, actors, scholars,

dancers, and storytellers, the Abrink

Festival will offer a diverse program

celebrating contemporary Armenian

literature and culture.

Scheduled for November 22 are Armenian

dance lessons with Ari Libaridian;

“Everything You Need to

will eventually be answered.

When I read “Call” by Sahakyan, I feel

his encouragement as a poet. The poem

suggests that calling once is not enough.

Just as the cycles of life repeat themselves,

we also need to repeat our calling

for what we need. Nothing is achieved by

staying quiet. Once we have made contact

with another, hope has kicked in and the

process of communication has begun.

What I gain from Sahakyan’s poem is

similar to what I learned from watching

and participating in this recent campaign

and election process. There is a boldness

in deciding that we will not stay quiet as

citizens not only of a country, but also of

a world. No matter whom we vote for or

Know about Armenians,” a comedy

performance by Lory Tatoulian; theatrical

sketches in tribute to Hovhannes

Toumanian, performed by

the actors of Arena Productions; a singa-long

event with Gor Mkhitarian;

a screening of the William Saroyan

film The Human Comedy, presented by

Ouhi Ouluhogian; a panel discussion

of literature from Fresno, with panelists

Mark Arax, Aris Janigian, Pat

Hunter, and Janice Stevens; and a

stage reading by Aram Saroyan of his

play The Evening Hour.

The November 23 program comprises

an Armenian miniature-art workshop

with Seeroon Yeretzian; “Armenian

Folklore, Alive,” a storytelling performance

by Alidz Agbabian; a lecture

and presentation about Armenian architecture

and monuments by Sarkis

Balmanoukian; a panel discussion titled

“Defining Literature as Armenian,

English, or American” with panelists

Lory Bedikian, Lilly Thomassian,

On page C1: Silva Hakobyan, who in a BBC-sponsored worldwide contest

was named the Next Best Thing in December 2006, continues her musical

education while she looks forward to an international musical career. See

story on page C3.

cheer for, there is something to be said

of calling out the name we want, the outcome

we desire. Although the presidential

campaign is now over, I’m convinced

that there is a larger campaign that is

ongoing and constant: that of being part

of the human race. Luckily, I have many

“speeches” and “rallies” near me always in

the shapes of poems, and day after day

they call to me in different languages, in

different forms, but always with audacity

between the lines. f

“Call” from Anthology of Armenian Poetry, translated

by Diana Der-Hovanessian, edited by Diana Der-

Hovanessian and Marzbed Margossian, Columbia

University Press, 1978. Reprinted with permission.

Abrink Festival of Armenian Literature and Culture set for

November 22 weekend

Vahe Berberian, and Garnik Galstian

and moderated by Arpi Sarafian;

a presentation of the epos The Daredevils

of Sassoun by Peter Cowe as well

as readings and vocal performances

from the work by Anahid Halabi; and

piano performances by Vatche Mankerian

of various works of Armenian

composers.

Admission is free. f

Abrink Festival of Armenian Literature

and Culture

Saturday, November 22, starting at

10:00 a.m.

Sunday, November 23, starting at

12:30 p.m.

Glendale Central Library Auditorium

222 East Harvard Street

Glendale, CA 91205

connect:

Abril Bookstore: (818) 243-4112

abrilbooks.com/abrink

Yuri Sahakyan with

wife Galina and

granddaughter, Maria.

See an “ian” on the credits? Watch a Hye on

your local news? Write arts@reporter.am, and

we’ll get crackin’ to profile the son or daughter

of Hayk in an upcoming issue.

C2 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008


Twenty and irresistible

Silva Hakobyan eyes the

international stage

by Betty

Panossian-Ter

Sarkissian

YEREVAN – In late October pop singer

Silva Hakobyan celebrated her 20th

birthday with a charity concert in her

native Vayk. The entertainer has already

conquered the hearts of the young set

and secured the approval of older audiences.

Silva started singing when she was only

four. She was a child star of concerts and

community events held in Vayk, a city in

the Vayots Dzor Region. Often during

Silva’s childhood, her father drove her

to Yerevan to take part in singing competitions,

and they seldom went home

empty-handed. “Our rooms were filled

with trophies,” Silva remembers.

In her formative years, Silva performed

songs about fairy tales and dolls,

written and arranged by her sister and

brother. In time, the themes, lyrics, and

musical complexity of the songs composed

by the Hakobyan siblings also

grew. When she was 12 years old, Silva

sang “Mankutiun” (Childhood) at a

festival and once again won first prize.

Popular throughout Armenia, “Mankutiun”

is a particular favorite at school

graduation parties.

A family of talents

Today Silva’s sister, 24-year-old Maneh,

writes the words of most of the pop star’s

songs. Her brother, Edgar, 26, composes

and arranges the music. Maneh and Edgar

also compose songs or arrange music

for many emerging and established

Armenian pop singers including Arameh,

Razmik Amyan, and Shushan Petrosyan.

When it became obvious that their

children would like nothing better than

writing and performing songs, Silva’s

parents set up a small studio in a corner

of their home in Yerevan. Her father,

Hakob, gave up his job as a hairdresser

to manage the promising careers of his

children.

“I am extremely lucky to have my family.

Many of my singer friends tell me

that they would have loved to be in my

shoes,” Sylva says.

“We have inherited our affinity for music

from our mother’s side. She and my

grandfather used to sing and play the

trumpet and dhol,” she says, referring to

the Armenian folk drum.

Silva collaborates with a variety of artists.

Beside her siblings, composers such

as Martin Mirzoyan have written songs

for her.

The breakthrough: The Next

Best Thing

In 2006, Silva took a big leap with the release

of the video for her song “Gisher e”

(It’s night), which in no time became a hit.

Scene from Silva Hakobyan’s latest music video, “Tnits Pakhel Em.”

Silva Hakobyan.

Then, with the help of Aram Avagyan,

a friend of the family, Silva submitted

the song to The Next Best Thing, a BBC

song contest open to under-18 singers

from throughout the world.

“We had just sent the song for the sake

of participating and the experience that

it might bring,” recalls Silva.

She still relives her surprise at being

notified that the jury members, among

them Peter Gabriel and William Wordsmith,

Madonna’s producer, had chosen

her song as one of the best 20, out of

some 2,000 entries.

Subsequently “Gisher e” was selected

as one of the best six songs, and, in early

December 2006, Silva was invited to

London to perform at the final concert

of the contest. To her shock and elation,

she won the top prize and was named

The Next Best Thing.

“We all were crying,” Silva says. “Even

the jury members were tearful, because

they all had wished for my success.”

Upon her victorious return to Armenia,

Silva was named Revelation of the

Year at the Armenian National Music

Awards, held in Yerevan. In the following

months, she was honored with more accolades

at the Armenian Music Awards,

held in Los Angeles and Moscow.

In 2007, a slew of fresh songs and video

clips followed while Silva continued

to earn popular and critical acclaim. By

this time she had become a regular presence

on various Armenian television

programs, and her name ranked high in

the pop-music charts.

With her sweet yet powerful voice,

Silva performs a variety of songs rang-

ing from hip-hop to pop and Armenian

dance. “I like experimenting with different

styles,” she says. “I might even give

rock and roll a try, but my favorites are

pop and hip-hop.”

Like other music stars, Silva finds that

fame has come with a price. She says

although she has always been “a good

girl” and led a simple family life, steering

clear of notoriety, fans can sometimes

cross the line and infringe on her

privacy, forcing her to be extra vigilant

in safeguarding it.

Silva is a third-year student at the

College of Jazz and Pop Music in Yerevan.

Though she is as-ever enthusiastic

about her studies, she notes, with a

tinge of remorse, that sometimes she

has to give up attending classes because

of her tours and recording obligations.

Still, she manages to make time

for voice and dance lessons and also

studies English.

In summer 2008, Silva released her

first CD. Titled Silva, the album includes

the hits “Tnits Pakhel Em,” “Indz Nerir,”

and “Chem Sirum,” and also “Gisher e”

as a bonus track.

Going for the international

stage

“Until now, I aimed at being well-known

to the Armenian public in Armenia and

the diaspora, and I am only happy that

we made it,” Silva says.

But today, she adds, she feels confident

and ready to take her music to international

audiences.

Silva is very optimistic about her future.

Having reached success well before

20, everything lies ahead of her. f

connect:

silvahakobyan.com

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008 C3


Artyom Manukyan: young, innovative, and a true

musician in every sense of the word

From baroque to hip hop,

this multitalented artist

of Armenian Navy Band

fame sees no limits

by Nyree

Abrahamian

YEREVAN – One of the best things about

living in Armenia is the music. With a

tiny population of less than three million

people, the amount of sheer talent and

innovation coming out of this country

is nothing short of remarkable. Yerevan

has a vibrant, varied, and refreshingly

unpretentious live music scene that’s always

full of surprises.

The first time I walked into Stop Club,

a small, cozy venue in the heart of Yerevan,

I felt like I had inhaled a lungful

of jazz – and it wasn’t just the cloud

of thick, blue smoke looming overhead.

That was the first time I heard Katuner

play, and the experience was absolutely

energizing. It was also the night I met

Artyom Manukyan, the band’s multitalented,

groundbreaking cellist and

bass guitarist, best known for his key

role in Armenian Navy Band.

The brainchild of Arto Tunçboyaciyan,

Armenian Navy Band has a completely

original sound that Tunçboyaciyan

has coined as avant-garde folk. Anyone

who has heard Armenian Navy Band

live comes away moved in some way.

“Arto is really telling stories through his

music,” says Manukyan. “Armenians

especially have to hear it because it’s

telling stories from our past. Through

modern arrangements and feelings, he

evokes a sense of the ancient, something

from the soul. I always feel something

of the essence of my grandparents

in the music.” While Armenian Navy

Band’s exact style is hard to describe,

the young musician sums up its texture

and its core pretty well. “The stories may

be be old, but the sound is not,” he adds.

“The band is hyperactive, sometimes too

much so. It’s the craziest band I’ve ever

played with.”

Manukyan was only 21 when he joined

Armenian Navy Band. He was, and still

is, the youngest member of the group.

“At first, every called me ‘kid’, and I was a

kid,” he says, “but musically, I started to

prove myself and showed that I wanted

to learn.” Arto Tunçboyaciyan has been

a huge inspiration and musical influence

for him since he was a child. “I remember

going to see him perform with Night

Ark in 1998,” he says, “and I thought,

‘This is the greatest musician I’ve seen

in my life.’ I even went and got a photo

with him and I was so happy.”

In 2002, Vahagn Hayrapetyan, Armenian

Navy Band’s keyboardist, called

Katuner performing at Stop Club. Manukyan in the back on bass. Photo: Anush Babajanyan

him and asked him to play cello on one

track, and of course he was overjoyed by

the prospect of playing with his childhood

hero. The young cellist left enough

of an impression on Tunçboyaciyan during

that one session that in 2004, when

the band needed a new bassist, he gave

him a call. “I’ll never forget that first

night playing with Navy Band,” he says,

“It was just past 8 o’clock and they called

me asking me to play at a 9 o’clock show.

It was my first time seeing the notes,

first time on stage with the band… it

was something.” Though Manukyan

was trained as a classical cellist, he took

to double and electric bass very quickly,

and is now one of Armenia’s most

sought out bass guitarists.

Katuner (“Cats”, in Armenian) is a relatively

new band that first came together

in the winter of 2004. Arto Tunçboyaciyan

asked Vahagn Hayrapetyan and

Tigran Suchyan, who plays trumpet in

Armenian Navy Band, to put together a

band that would give young Armenian

musicians an opportunity to showcase

their talent. So they called Manukyan,

and he started playing both bass guitar

and cello with Katuner a few months before

he was asked to join Armenian Navy

Band. Katuner, in its own right, has an

extremely unique sound. Also falling

into the fusion category of avant-garde

folk, Katuner is made up of a group of

Armenia’s most talented young musicians.

Their sound seamlessly blends

jazzy rhythms with the ancient sounds

of traditional Armenian instruments

like the zurna and duduk.

Like most Armenian musicians,

Artyom Manukyan is a full-time musician,

in the true sense of the word. Music

isn’t just something he does on the

side, or in between part-time jobs – it’s

his livelihood, his sole source of income,

Artyom Manukyan.

and his lifelong passion. “I think in musical

terms,” says the young musician. “I

see everything through music.” His lat-

est project is a jazz quartet called Nooz,

where he presents the cello, classically

used in chamber music, as a modern

C4 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008


Manukyan on the cello. The multitalented artist.

instrument. I recently went to a Nooz

show and was absolutely in awe of the

sounds that the talented artist was able

to produce from an instrument I always

associated with Bach and Brahms.

From baroque to hip hop, Artyom Manukyan’s

musical flair seems to have no

limits. Somehow, between practices and

gigs with three different bands, the multitalented

artist has found time to nurture

yet another one of his musical passions,

hip hop. He and a friend from Los Angeles

are starting a productions company called

New People in Yerevan. They have created

arrangements for some of Armenia’s biggest

hip hop and pop stars, like Hay Tgheq

and Inga & Anush. It may seem a bit

unusual for a classically trained cellist to

branch into hip hop, but hip hop has been

a driving force in Manukyan’s life for as far

back as he can remember. Now that he is

actually creating and working in the field,

it’s like his childhood dreams are coming

true. “Hip hop is my second life,” he says

with a smile.

At 25, Manukyan still has a long career

ahead of him, and considering he

started playing cello almost by chance,

who knows what exciting twists and

turns the future will bring. Cello is one

of those instruments that sort of got

left behind with the classical era. With

the rise of jazz and rock, it just didn’t

make the cool list. There’s no shortage

of drummers and guitarists out there,

but when was the last time someone

told you they played the cello? Manukyan,

who started playing when he was

nine, is something of an advocate for

the versatility and modern relevance of

the antiquated instrument, but his love

affair with music and with the cello had

a not so glamorous start.

“My mom is a piano player and a professional

teacher,” he explains, “so when

I was seven, she taught me to play the

piano. She saw that I had some talent,

so she took me to music school, and the

first year, I passed exams as a piano player.

The following September, when I was

on my way to take my entrance exam

for piano, the cello teacher stopped me

in the middle of my exam and told me,

‘You’re a talented guy, and there are millions

of good piano players out there. I

want you to play the cello.’ I remember

I started to cry that day because it was

the first time in my life seeing the cello,

and it was so big and I was so little, so

my mom had to come in to see what was

the matter. When they explained to her

that they wanted me to play the cello,

she loved the idea.”

The first three years, young Artyom

hated the instrument and the practice

that went with it. “At that time, I

thought that I hated music,” he says.

Then, in fourth grade, he entered a national

under-eighteen cello competition,

and much to his surprise, he won.

“That’s when I realized I could play,” says

the modest musician. “So I started looking

deeper into it, not just practicing because

I had to. I started developing my

own sound and a real love for music.”

Most artists have a turning point when

they realize that art is going to be the

central focus of their lives. Manukyan

remembers that exact moment. When

he graduated from high school, his father,

in typical fatherly fashion, asked

him what he wanted to do with his life.

“I thought for a second, and realized

that I’d already been playing the cello

for seven years, and I wanted to play for

another 70,” Manukyan says. “So I told

him I wanted to be a professional musician.”

His father’s answer was simple:

“You have to practice more.” So he did,

and he never looked back.

To this day, after receiving international

acclaim for his performances

with Armenian Navy Band and Katuner,

the talented musician’s toughest critics

are his parents. “Especially when I first

started to get bigger gigs, if an entire audience

loved a show and they were clapping

and cheering, but my mother didn’t

like it, that would kill me,” he says. “But

it was good – it made me work harder.”

Having traveled around the world during

his studies and with Armenian Navy

Band, Manukyan has come to appreciate

many aspects of life in Yerevan, a

city that truly nurtures creativity. As a

teenager, he spent a few years in Germany

studying cello at the conservatory,

and had plenty of opportunities to stay

there as a classical cellist, but turned

them down. “I couldn’t live there,” he

says. “It was too cold, both literally

and figuratively.” Then he moved to

Greece for a year to try out life on his

own. “I wanted to see if I could start

from zero,” he explains. He enjoyed his

year in Greece, but couldn’t see any kind

of real future for himself there, so in

2004, he moved back to Armenia, and

A brief break between sets. Photo: Anush Babajanyan

shortly thereafter, began his career with

Katuner and Armenian Navy Band. Now,

he can’t picture his life anywhere else.

“Sometimes I feel creatively limited,” he

admits, “because Yerevan is a small city

and small cities have their borders, but

it all depends on you and your state of

mind. You could lock yourself up in your

room for months and just practice, and

become more open-minded that way.”

In the past few years, Manukyan has

toured with Armenian Navy Band all

over Europe, Russia, the United States

(with a recent performance in Los Angeles

this August) and Turkey, where they

are always extremely well received. “A

lot of young Turkish musicians come to

see us play,” he says, “and they’re a great

audience. Everything aside, a bass player

comes to hear another bass player. I’ve

made a lot of good friends that way.”

Next summer, he will head to Boston’s

prestigious Berklee College of Music on

full scholarship for a summer program.

“I think that those five weeks will give

me enough creative fuel to keep going

and think outside the box for another

ten years,” he says. He may stay in the

United States a bit longer, to see how he

fares on an international level.

Still, for this musician, who still has so

much left to offer as he grows and diversifies

as an artist, Yerevan will always be

home base. “Armenia is a very good area

for music,” he notes. “Here, every musician

is a musician. Like in Armenian

Navy Band, nobody does anything else.

Armenians really love and appreciate

good music, and there are so many really

talented musicians here. Armenian

audiences are incredible. They really listen

to music. Never mind all the hype

that comes with playing in a popular

band. If one or two people come up to

me after a show and say ‘Man, that was

really good,’ I love that.”

Small as Yerevan may be, and difficult

as circumstances may sometimes

be, Manukyan believes that the only

limits an artist faces are self-imposed.

In fact, struggle can only serve to fuel

art. “Great musicians come from Senegal

and Cameroon,” he says, “If you’re

a musician, nothing can stop you – not

hunger, war, government, personal trauma,

nothing. If you’re going to be a good

musician, you’ll be a good musician anywhere.”

And with artists like Artyom Manukyan

emerging from Armenia, from a

generation that grew up during the excruciatingly

difficult early years of independence,

that’s a very good thing. f

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008 C5


The Hemshin: a community of Armenians who

became Muslims

Book review by Aram Arkun

Hovann H. Simonian, editor, The Hemshin:

History, Society and Identity in the

Highlands of Northeast Turkey. London

and New York: Routledge, an imprint

of the Taylor & Francis Group, 2007, 417

pages including index and illustrations.

Nearly all Armenians would insist that

the Christian faith is one of the major

components of the Armenian identity.

Yet today more and more is heard about

Muslim Armenians and crypto or secret

Armenians. The very existence of

Muslim Armenians in particular raises

interesting questions about what fundamentally

constitutes an Armenian,

especially when there are Muslims who

speak Armenian and preserve and practice

various elements derived from Armenian

culture and tradition.

The Hemshin, also called Hemshinli,

include both Muslims and Christians,

and speakers of dialects of Armenian as

well as those who speak only versions

of Turkish or other non-Armenian languages

influenced by the Armenian language.

They have a long and complicated

history, during much of which they lived

in isolation from mainstream Armenian

society and faced great oppression. The

Hemshin themselves have conflicting

notions concerning their identity. Today

numbering as many as 150,000 according

to some estimates, they live in

Turkey, Russia, and Georgia, as well as

in some diaspora communities in the

West. Not much has been written about

the Hemshin in English, so the volume

edited by Hovann Simonian provides

a welcome introduction.

This book, focusing on the Hemshin

living in Turkey, consists of chapters

written by writers from a diverse group

of disciplines and nationalities. A second

volume, focusing on the Hemshin of the

Caucasus and the rest of the former Soviet

Union and including a general bibliography,

is planned for publication.

Origins

Anne Elizabeth Redgate’s introductory

chapter examines Armenian historical

sources on the origins of the Hemshin.

The 7th-century Arab invasions of Armenia

led to harsh treatment of the Armenian

population in the subsequent century.

According to the historian Ghevond’s

History, part of the Armenian leadership,

including the Amatuni clan, rebelled,

leading to the emigration of Shabuh Amatuni,

his son Hamam, and many companions

circa 790. They founded a new

principality in the Byzantine-controlled

Pontos, northwest of Armenia proper. Its

capital was named Hamamashen (after

Hamam), and this word was later transformed

into Hamshen and used for the

whole area.

Historical Hamshen lies between the

Pontic mountain chain in the south and

the Black Sea to the north, today part of

the Turkish province of Rize. The Hemshin

also live further to the east, in the

Artvin province of Turkey, in the region

around Hopa. Unlike their Laz neighbors,

the Hemshin tend to live among

the higher mountains, not immediately

around the coast. Thanks to the Pontic

mountains overlooking the Black Sea,

Hamshen is not only fairly inaccessible,

but also one of the most humid areas

of Turkey, with a semi-tropical climate

that sees an average of 250 days of rain

every year. An almost permanent fog

covers the area. The Armenians there

were always in close proximity to the

sea, even when their political borders

did not quite reach it.

In the next chapter, Simonian briefly

reviews the same Armenian historical

sources referred to by Redgate, and

dismisses two alternate hypotheses

concerning the origins of Hamshen:

Left: Cover of Hovann

H. Simonian’s book

The Hemshin. Below: A

Hemshin child from

Hopa. Image from the

book.

that refugees following the fall of the

Armenian capital of Ani in 1064 were its

founders, and that after the initial arrival

of the Amatunis, a sparse local Tzan

population was Armenized by migrants

from Ispir and Pertakrag to the south.

Much of the history of this area is still

obscure. Between the late 8th and early

15th centuries, there are only two extant

mentions of Hamshen, so that one

can only suppose that the principality

of Hamshen survived as a vassal of the

larger Armenian, Byzantine, Georgian,

and Turkic powers around it. Armenian

manuscripts from the 15th century reveal

that Hamshen had become a principality

subservient to the Muslim lord of

Ispir to the south, as well as to an overlord,

Iskander Bey of the Kara Koyunlu

Turkmen confederation. Ispir, exclu-

sively Armenian until the 17th century,

was Hamshen’s only neighbor sharing a

population adhering to the church of Armenia.

The other Christians in the area

were Orthodox Chalcedonians. Hamshen

fell to the Ottomans in the late

1480s, with its last ruler, Baron Davit

(David) exiled to Ispir. The most famous

member of the Armenian ruling family

of Hamshen was the monk Hovhannes

Hamshentsi, an eminent scholar and

orator who died in 1497.

Hamshen came to be referred to as

Hemshin in early Ottoman documents,

where it was noted as a separate district or

province. It was subject to the devshirme,

or child levy, in the 16th century.

An intellectual center in a

dark age

In the third chapter, Christine Maranci

examines manuscript illumination in

Hamshen, which, together with scribal

activity, extended from the 13th to the

17th centuries. A wide variety of texts

were copied, demonstrating that Hamshen

was a significant intellectual center

even in the 16th century, often considered

a “Dark Age” for medieval manuscript

illumination.

In another chapter, Simonian traces

the process of Islamicization in Hemshin

to the end of the 19th century. Simonian

does a good job of utilizing at

times contradictory or obscure Armenian

and Turkish sources to better understand

that process.

Ottoman records show that Hemshin

was overwhelmingly Christian until the

late 1620s. Starting in the 1630s, the

Hemshin Armenian diocese began to decline,

while one of the first mosques in

the area was built in the 1640s. Conversion

to Islam seems to have taken place

gradually. However, it is not known

whether there were particular episodic

periods of crisis in which conversion accelerated.

The need for equality with Laz

Muslim neighbors, the desire to avoid

oppressive taxation of non-Muslims, increasing

general Ottoman intolerance of

non-Muslims in a period of weakness

for the Ottoman Empire, and anarchy

created by local valley lords are some of

the causes of Islamicization. Islam took

root in the coastal areas first, and then

advanced slowly to the highlands.

Emigration of Armenians also took

place during this period of pressure on

Armenians, from the 1630s to the 1850s,

though fugitives who fled to other parts

of the Pontos were still often forced to

convert. Simonian looks at the killings,

violence, and other difficulties faced by

the Hemshin Armenian communities of

Mala, Karadere, and Khurshunlu.

The Gesges emerge

Christians still persevered, though small

in number, in Hemshin at the beginning

of the 19th century. Members of the new

Muslim majority produced a large number

of Islamic clerics, civil servants, and

military leaders for the Ottoman Empire

in the late 19th century. These emigrants

C6 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008


Samsun

Hemshin women in Hopa, Turkey. Photos: archive of Sergey Vardanyan, editor, Dzayn Hamshenakan.

Tokat

Black Sea

Sivas

Ordu

Giresun

to large Ottoman urban centers all bore

the epithet Hemshinli. During the centuries

of conversion, odd situations

were created. Mothers in some families

remained Christian in belief, while fathers

became Muslim; one brother might

have converted to Islam, and another

remained Christian. Furthermore, there

emerged a segment of crypto-Christians

called gesges (half-half). These Hemshin

Armenians outwardly converted, but privately

kept practicing various Christian

customs, even sometimes including attending

church services. This category of

Armenians largely died out by the end of

the 19th century.

In the second half of the 19th century,

Ottoman proclamations of religious

equality as part of the Tanzimat reform

efforts led some Muslim Hemshin in

the broader area to try to convert back

to Christianity. This in turn led to a

backlash by Muslim preachers and the

opening of Turkish schools in the area.

The pressure exerted by local authorities,

combined with new opportunities

in Muslim Ottoman society for economic

and social advancement, led to the

Erzincan

Trebizond

Gumushane

Turkey

Rize

Erzurum

loss of the ability to speak the Armenian

language for most Hemshin Armenians.

However, Armenian influenced the

type of Turkish spoken by the Hemshin

through vocabulary, phrase structure,

and accent. The Muslim Hemshin developed

their own unique group identity,

and have managed to maintain it till the

present.

By 1870, according to Ottoman statistics

confirmed by the British consul in

Trebizond, there were only 23 Christian

Armenian families in Hemshin. The remaining

1,561 families were Muslim.

Alexandre Toumarkine writes about

the Ottoman political and religious

elites among the Hemshin from the

mid-19th century until 1926, with information

about specific individuals and

families. The Hemshinli, like the rest of

the people of their area of the Black Sea,

supported Atatürk initially, but entered

into the camp of the opposition during

the early years of the new Turkish republic.

The chief organizer of the failed

1926 plot to assassinate Atatürk was a

Hemshinli named Ziya Hursid, and four

other Hemshinli were also accused of

Artuin

Regions where the Hemshin live. White is eastern Hemshin, purple is western Hemshin. Armenian Reporter map.

Karasaru

An early image of Trebizond. Hopa, Turkey.

Doing a traditional Hemshin dance.

Araxe

Kars

Karakose

Georgia

Mt. Ararat

5 165

Armenia

being involved. In an epilogue, Toumarkine

notes that a number of contemporary

politicians have Hemshinli origins.

They include Mesut Yilmaz, prime minister

between 1997 and 1998, and Murat

Karayalçin, deputy prime minister from

1993 to 1995.

Tensions in 1878–1923

In his third chapter, Simonian focuses on

the 1878–1923 period and the interaction

of Muslims of Armenian background

and Armenians. The district of Hopa,

adjacent to Hemshin, was occupied by

the Russians as a result of the 1877–78

Russo-Turkish War. The approximately

200 households of Islamicized Hemshinli

Armenians in Hopa proved their complete

adherence to Islam by not reverting

to Christianity under Russian Christian

rule, unlike other Armenian converts.

Part of the responsibility for the distancing

between Christian and Islamicized

Armenians was due to Armenians

themselves. The Armenian church did

not attempt to actively work with the

Muslim Hemshinli, perhaps fearing

problems with the Ottoman authorities.

However, even in the Russian Empire,

the Armenian church made no effort

to try to proselytize Islamicized Armenians,

and, in some cases, actually created

new obstacles in the path of those

who wished to revert to Christianity.

At the same time, even relatively progressive

secularist thinkers like Grigor

Artsruni could not accept as Armenians

any Muslims like the Hemshin unless

they first reverted to Christianity.

Muslims of Hemshin were hired by

the Catholic Armenians of neighboring

Khodorchur to the south, the last

district of Ispir still populated by Christians,

as guides for travelers, guards, and

seasonal workers. Despite these generally

friendly relations, some Hemshinli

Muslims who engaged in banditry also

periodically attacked the Khodorchur

Catholic Armenians. During World War

I, some Hemshinli and other Muslims of

Armenian descent robbed their Khodorchur

Armenian neighbors and took over

their properties. The last Christian Armenian

village in Hemshin, Eghiovit

(Elevit), was destroyed, with its population

deported and killed. After the war,

Khodorchur was partially repopulated

by Hemshinli.

In Hopa and more particularly in Karadere

Valley and regions closer to Trebizond,

Islamicized Armenians helped

Christians instead of robbing them.

During the war, some Hemshinli were

mistaken for Armenians because of their

language and killed. During the Russian

occupation of the area from 1916 to

1918, there were no recorded instances

of reversion to Christianity among the

Islamicized Armenians and Greeks.

Hagop Hachikian has a chapter on

the historical geography and present

territorial distribution of the Hemshinli,

examining toponyms and historical

sources to ascertain where and when

settlements were established. Interestingly,

Hemshinli Armenians settled in

areas around the western Black Sea in

various waves of emigration beginning

immediately prior to the Russo-Turkish

War of 1877-1878. Emigration to

this area continued in the period of the

Turkish republic, with Hemshinli usually

either settling in separate quarters of

villages, or establishing monoethnic villages.

Hemshinli continued to migrate,

with diaspora communities of thousands

now existing in Germany and the

United States.

Meanwhile, thousands of village

names that were found to have non-

Turkish roots were changed by 1959,

adding to the changes in names taken

Continued on page C8 m

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008 C7


The Hemshin: a community of Armenians who became Muslims

n Continued from page C7

from the start of the 20th century under

the Young Turks. This eliminated many

of the originally Armenian names of the

Hemshinli villages.

Villages today

Erhan Gürsel Ersoy writes about the

present-day social and economic structures

of the Hemshin people living in

Çamlihemsin in Rize Province from the

perspectives of cultural ecology. Houses

are in the middle of agricultural land, so

that villages have no real center and residences

are dispersed over wide expanses.

Ersoy looks at recent attempts at modernization

of infrastructure in the region,

including the building of some roads and

the advent of telephones and electricity

in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the early 19th century, many men

from the Hemshin area emigrated to the

Caucasus and Balkans, as well as large Ottoman

cities. Emigration within Turkey

continued in modern times, with Hemshinli

becoming entrepreneurs and opening

a large number of patisseries, bakeries,

tea houses, coffee shops, restaurants,

taverns, and hotels in large cities and

towns such as Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir.

Though the Hemshinli are a patriarchal

society, a high number of women serve

as the de facto heads of their households,

given the fact that so many men migrate

to the towns. The rural extended family

structure has been breaking up. Locally

most households still subside on agriculture

and animal husbandry, with women

doing most of work.

Gülsen Balikçi examines western

Hemshin folk architecture in three villages

of the Rize area. Like many traditional

Armenian homes, the stable for

animals is located at the ground floor at

the back of the house. People live on the

second floor, and there is a third floor

too. An outdoor toilet is near the stable.

Baths are taken either in the stable or

near the oven inside the house. A fountain

is built near the back entrance, and

water is brought into the house through

a hose. Food that will be used shortly is

hanged in cloth bags from the ceiling,

as a way of protection against mice and

insects. A number of auxiliary buildings

or structures are placed next to the

house. The most important of these is a

raised storage platform on posts called

serender, in which food was kept for long

periods.

The languages of the Hemshin

Bert Vaux explains that the language of

the Armenians of Hamshen depend on

their location. The western Hemshinli living

in the Turkish province of Rize speak

Turkish peppered with Armenian words,

while the eastern Hemshinli in the province

of Artvin speak a dialect of Armenian

they call Homshetsma. Non-Islamicized

Hamshen Armenians who live in Russia

and Georgia speak the same dialect.

Homshetsma, never a written language,

developed in isolation. Thus it preserves

various archaisms, along with developing

some idiosyncrasies. Homshetsma belongs

to the Western Armenian family of

dialects. Vaux provides some short texts

in eastern and northern Homshetsma

dialects as appendices to his overview.

An old foot bridge in Hopa. Photos: archive of Sergey Vardanyan, editor, Dzayn Hamshenakan.

Hemshin women from Hopa.

Uwe Bläsing, the author of two monographs

concerning the Hemshin dialect,

provides an overview of the Armenian

vocabulary still used by the now Turkishspeaking

western Hemshinli.

Hagop Hachikian examines aspects

of the Hemshin identity. Two distinct

Hemshinli identities exist: Rize and

Hopa, or west and east, with distinct

geographical and linguistic attributes.

Aside from differences in language, the

Hemshinli of Hopa do not use the traditional

head covering of those of Rize.

Those in the west still observe a festival

of Armenian pagan origin known as Vartevor

or Vartivor (Vartavar in Armenian,

transformed through Christianization

into a celebration of the Transfiguration

of Christ) and have a richer repertoire of

traditional dances. Their level of literacy

and education is much higher than that

of the east. The Rize Hemshinli, whose

members have achieved high office, thus

manage to preserve their distinctiveness

while proclaiming a Turco-Muslim

identity. Both branches of the Hemshinli

still have some Armenian-derived

family names.

In public, many Hemshinli reject an

Armenian origin, and some even insist

they were descended from Turks from

Central Asia who founded the “Gregorian”

denomination of Christianity. They

are upset by Lazi and others who call

them Armenians.

A lively culture

Ersoy, in another chapter, also examines

aspects of identity. The western Hem-

shinli follow a very pragmatic version of

Islam, and still drink alcohol, sing folk

songs, and dance in mixed company. Ersoy

looks at the Vartevor festival. Today

it is organized by a committee with a

chairman. Money is collected from each

household in the highland pastures to

pay a bagpipe player, buy alcohol, and pay

for any other expenses. Drinking, fireworks,

and folk dancing are the main attractions.

Ersoy looks at a second festival

with Armenian roots, the Hodoç festival,

which takes place during haymaking, but

is not as widely celebrated as Vartevor. It,

too, includes food, drink, and folk dancing.

Ildikó Bellér-Hann explores Hemshinli-Lazi

relations. The Lazi (Laz in

Turkish), converts to Islam from Christianity

during Ottoman times, live in

the same areas as the Hemshinli, and

number perhaps around 250,000. They

have preserved their Caucasian language,

related to Georgian, orally, and

so are bilingual like the eastern Hemshinli.

Lazi and Hemshinli are locally

often contrasted with each other. The

Lazi stereotypically are represented as

agriculturalists, as opposed to the pastoralist

Hemshinli. The Hemshinli are

considered pacifists and calm, compared

to the nervous, hot-blooded, and violent

nature of the Lazi. The Hemshinli are

said to be planners, whereas the Lazi

are entrepreneurial and ambitious but

live for the day. Hemshinli consider the

Lazi mean and inhospitable, and also

point out their large noses, while Lazi

complain of the odor and lack of hy-

giene of the Hemshinli (a result of work

with large numbers of animals).

Intermarriage between the two groups

has been limited. Traditionally, it has

been asserted that Hemshinli brides

were taken by Lazi men, but no Lazi

women married Hemshinli men. However,

statistics from the 1940s and 1950s,

and the late 1980s and early 1990s, belie

this pattern.

Rüdiger Benninghaus examines

the methods and consequences of the

manipulation of ethnic origins by both

western Hemshinli and non-Hemshinli,

especially Turks. Attempts to prove the

Hemshinli to have Turkish origins fit in

with broader historiographical and linguistic

approaches in Turkey, which in

the 1930s went to the extreme of proclaiming

that all languages derived from

Turkish, and all civilizations were either

Turkish in origin or influenced by the

Turks historically.

Simonian’s volume contains a wealth of

information on the Hemshin, but may be

a little difficult for general readers who are

not familiar with Armenian and Turkish

history. The problem is due in part to the

complicated nature of the topic as well

as the disparate approaches of chapters

common to many multi-author works.

There is some overlap between chapters,

which perhaps could have been avoided.

A general map of the region would have

been useful for readers in the early part

of the volume. It may be hard to keep

track of the different towns of the original

Hemshin territory, versus those to

which the Hemshin later spread.

Most of the captions of the photographs

of manuscripts and bindings pertaining

to Christina Maranci’s chapter

have been matched to the wrong image,

forcing readers to guess at the correct

ascriptions. An errata insert would alleviate

this problem. Some of the blackand-white

illustrations in other sections

of the book appear a bit faint.

Overall, this is an excellent resource

book, and it is obvious that Simonian

and the authors have put in much effort

to use inaccessible primary sources in a

variety of languages. Hopefully, Simonian’s

second volume will soon appear, and

the two volumes in turn will lead to new

monographic studies. f

C8 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008


Yerevan’s fresh culture

Fruit in a blender: so

simple, yet sooo good

by Nyree Abrahamian

YEREVAN – Yerevan is one of those cities

where there’s a stark contrast between

summer and winter – not just in the

thermometer, but in cultural life and the

general vibe of the city. As the temperature

drops and the city quiets down, I’m

settling into fall mode. After a hot, hectic

and fast-paced summer, my life is regaining

a sense of normalcy, and I like it. I’m

not sad to see the outdoor cafes close up

shop for the season (they’ll be back), nor

do I mind the unusual absence of racket

outside my window at 4:00 am. But one

thing that I will miss, and that I’m taking

advantage of for as long as I can, is my

favorite summer treat: the fresh.

A fresh (noun, pronounced fuh-rresh)

is a blended fresh fruit drink that may or

may not include milk, ice and/or sugar.

I’m not sure how it got its name. Clearly,

it’s made with fresh fruit, but the English

adjective “fresh” is not a part of

most Armenians’ vocabulary.

During the hot summer months, freshes

are everywhere – in cafes, restaurants,

and little sidewalk booths all around

Yerevan. Typical freshes, depending on

the season, include strawberry, banana,

raspberry, apricot and orange, but some

places get really creative. One of my favorites

is the mint fresh, which basically

tastes like a nonalcoholic mojito.

I’m not sure what it is about the fresh.

It’s a very simple concept – fruit in a

blender. But it is all the rage in Yerevan.

I think it may have to do with the fact

that fruits are seasonal here, and the

window for each fruit is so short. So for

example, when it’s watermelon season,

you want to be sure to take full advantage

while you can, enjoying the fruit in

every way possible, including its blended

form. It also has to do with the suffocating

summer heat. Even a five-minute

walk in the sticky streets of Yerevan in

July can leave you gasping for air, so it’s

impossible not to stop and refresh yourself

at a fresh stand.

Freshes range in price, depending on

where you get them, and from my experience,

the cheapest ones are usually the

best. An average sidewalk fresh costs

about 400 drams (roughly $1.30) and

it’s usually about double the price at a

restaurant. I once had on overambitious

waiter at one of the cafes around the

Opera try to sell me an 8,000 dram pineapple

fresh! “It’s the juice of one whole

pineapple,” he told me, eyes wide. But

no pineapple is worth $26 – not in Armenia,

not anywhere.

My favorite fresh stand is a tiny windowed

booth built into the ground floor

of an apartment building on Sakharov

Square. It doesn’t have a name or a sign.

And you could very easily walk by and

not even know that it was there. It’s run

by Azat and Ruzan, a middle-aged couple

who have been in the fresh business

for ten years. I ask Azat why he hasn’t

put a sign up and he shrugs, “I’ve never

thought of it. Everybody knows we’re

here.”

“We had the first fresh stand in Yerevan,”

he tells me. “The idea caught on

quickly and now, you see booths on almost

every corner.” They have been at

this location for the past four years.

The tiny room that they work out of

is actually a few steps below ground

level and the “storefront” is one big

window. You order through a little

open area at about eye-level and you

can either drink it standing by the

counter, or they can tape on a plastic

lid and you can take it to go. I always

seem to be on the run, but most fresh

drinkers prefer to enjoy the tasty beverage

on the spot.

Most fresh stands are already closed

by October, but Ruzan tells me that

they stay open until mid-December.

The variety of freshes changes, but

they are open as long as weather permits.

My favorite fall fresh is a combo:

pomegranate-grapefruit. It is absolutely

divine. The pomegranate is the only

fruit they don’t throw into the blender.

They squeeze its juices out with a special

pomegranate press. Pomegranate

is all the rage now in North America

– one of the latest health fads known

for its antioxidant power – but in Armenia,

people love the fruit because

it’s just plain good.

Azat and Ruzan buy their fruits bulk

from a market vendor they know will

give them only the best. “That’s why

people keep coming back here,” says

Azat. “We give them quality products at

low prices. I’d rather run out of a fruit all

together than give a low-quality product.

If it’s bad, people won’t come back.

That’s how we develop trust.”

Oranges and grapefruits, peeled and ready to be squeezed.

The special pomegranate press.

“On a good summer day,” Ruzan tells me,

“We’ll go through twenty kilos of strawberries,

ten kilos of bananas and three kilos of

raspberries.” Maybe they don’t need a sign

after all, because even on this cool November

day, they have a steady stream of

customers stocking up on their last bit of

Typical freshes,

depending on the

season, include

strawberry, banana,

raspberry, apricot,

pomegranate, and

orange, but some

places get really

creative. One of my

favorites is the mint

fresh, which basically

tastes like a nonalcoholic

mojito.

freshly blended, vitamin-filled goodness

before the real cold sets in.

As I prepare myself for the bleak winter

months, when potatoes and cabbage

will be the highlights of every menu, my

pomegranate-grapefruit fresh tastes

sweeter with every sip. f

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008 C9


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Program Grid

17 – 23 November

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Bumerang

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Movie

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reviewed

by Aram

Kouyoumdjian

Kristen Lazarian’s play Love Like

Blue, which ran at the Whitefire

Theatre in Sherman Oaks last

year, had a unique structure built

around a circular symmetry. This

year, Lazarian had raised the stakes

on structural innovation with Push,

which ended its run at Theatre 40 in

Beverly Hills on November 9.

Romantic relationships are at

the heart of both plays, although

Push focuses on marital infidelity

and explores its myriad variations

– from the temptation to stray to

actual betrayal.

The play opens with Brooke, an

art gallery owner, and her husband,

Owen, a reporter for local television,

dining at a restaurant with

their friends, Eleanor and Adam.

The mood at dinner is strained by

Owen’s discomfort over the close

working relationship developing

between Brooke and a young German

artist, and by Brooke’s own

discomfort when she learns that

her father has been sharing an unusually

intimate friendship with

the restaurant’s owner, Charlotte.

Brooke herself parries the young

German’s advances, but, with her

Drop Of Honey

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The pull of “Push”

Aram Kouyoumdjian is the winner of Elly Awards

for both playwriting (“The Farewells”) and directing

(“Three Hotels”). His latest work is “Velvet

Revolution.”

Drop Of Honey

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suspicions fully awakened, wonders

about Owen’s faithfulness.

Her deepest fears are realized when

Owen beds a woman he meets at a

bar while Brooke is away on a business

trip.

Throughout the scenes of Act 1,

which are myriad and, at times,

meandering, Push seems to hold

limited promise, treading ground

that has been masterfully covered

by Donald Margulies in his Pulitzer

Prize-winning drama Dinner

with Friends – a penetrating study

of two married couples dealing

with the fallout of an affair.

Lazarian concludes the first act,

Discovery

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Snakes & Lizards

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

Jagadakri kerinere

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Tele Kitchen

Bari Luys

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Jagadakri kerinere

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Boomerang

News

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Tele Kitchen

Like A Wave

YO YO

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

News

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Bernard Show

Bari Luys

News

Above: Grinnell

Morris, Julie

Lancaster, Richard

Horvitz and Tisha

Terrasini Banker.

Left: Meredith

Bishop and Grinnell

Morris. Photos: Ed

Krieger.

however, with an unexpected revelation

that bears a high intrigue

quotient.

Act 2 revisits the scenes of Act 1,

picking each one up at the point it

“ended” – and continuing it. The

end of a scene is not necessarily

the end of a story – a point Lazarian

makes through the clever construction

of her script. It’s a captivating

device, lending the play a

heft it lacks at the outset. The intentionally

cropped scenes of Act 1

come to illustrate how incomplete

our views of events can be, how

partial the information on which

we base opinions and judgments.

Discovery

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Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Unlucky Happiness

Harevaner

Jagadakri kerinere

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Express

The Armenian

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Jagadakri kerinere

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A Drop of Honey

News

CLONE

Fathers & Sons

Express

Like A Wave

Bumerang

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Armenian

Movie

News

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Bernard Show

The Armenian

News

23 November

Sunday

Dar

Cool Program

Blitz

CLONE

Snakes & Lizards

Armenian

Movie

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

Express

The Armenian

Like A Wave

Snakes & Lizards

Jagadakri kerinere

Cool Program

A Drop of Honey

Weekend News

CLONE

Fathers & Sons

Express

Like A Wave

Bumerang

Snakes & Lizards

CLONE

Dar

Discovery

A Drop Of Honey

Weekend News

PS Club

Armenian

Wedding

The Armenian

Weekend News

In truth, stories don’t really ever

end; they simply segue into other

stories.

As engrossing as it is by way of

structure, Push requires deft direction,

or else the sheer number

of its scenes can prove fatiguing.

Unfortunately, as helmed by Michael

Connors, the production

at Theatre 40 never attained the

requisite traction, especially in the

first act. For a play built on interrupted

scenes, fadeouts and blackouts

were tentative, while changes

between scenes were awkward and

accented by incongruent musical

selections. The dark backdrop

and flooring of Jeff G. Rack’s set

design dampened the production’s

vibrancy, while the dim lighting

by Ellen Monocroussos made for a

murky atmosphere.

Emotional engagement of any

real depth was rendered difficult

by a lackluster ensemble, with Julie

Lancaster particularly flat in

the key role of Brooke. Certain

cast members, however, may have

been hindered in their efforts, having

little character to mine in this

situation-driven play.

There is economy in Lazarian’s

writing, which favors realistic

conversation over unnecessary

linguistic flourishes. And while

the dialogue occasionally turns

conventional, the script allows

frequent glimpses of Lazarian’s

acerbic humor, her sense of irony,

and her fluid use of metaphor,

including that of the play’s title

(a gambling term of art signifying

a draw between a player and

a dealer).

Lazarian will surely continue to

showcase her inventive craft as she

becomes a mainstay of the local

theater scene. f

C10 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008


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Satellite Broadcast Program Grid

17 – 23 November

17 November 18 November 19 November

Monday TueSday WedneSday

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4:30 7:30 News in

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Morning,Armenians

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif – Six new screenwriters

were selected by the Academy

of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as

winners in the 23rd Don and Gee Nicholl

Fellowships in Screenwriting. Each writer

received a prestigious $30,000 prize.

One of the winners of this year’s selection

was Eric Nazarian of Burbank,

California for his screenplay Giants. (For

more on Eric Nazarian, see the Armenian

Reporter, February 23, Arts & Culture

Section). The other winners were:

Jeremy Bandow, Minneapolis, Minnesota

for Hive; Ken Kristensen and

Colin Marshall, Los Angeles, California

for Out of Breath; Jason Micallef,

Santa Monica, California for Butter, and

Lee Patterson of Durham, England for

Snatched.

The winners were selected from

5,224 scripts submitted for this year’s

competition. The competition was

open to those individuals who has not

sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay

for more than $5,000, or received

a fellowship or prize that includes a

“first look” clause, an option, or any

other quid pro quo involving the writer’s

work.

eST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

Armenian

5:00 8:00 Good

Morning,Armenians

6:00 9:00 Morning

Program

7:30 10:30 My Big, Fat

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van)

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17:35 20:35 My Big, Fat

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of America)

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Final judging of the competition was

conducted by the Nicholl Committee,

chaired by writer and 1992 Nicholl fellow

Susannah Grant and composed

of writers Naomi Foner, Dan Petrie,

Jr., Tom Rickman and Dana Stevens;

20 November 21 November 22 November 23 November

ThurSday Friday SaTurday Sunday

eST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

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5:00 8:00 Good

Morning,Armenians

6:00 9:00 Morning

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15:00 18:00 News in

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2:45 5:45 The Armenian

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4:30 7:30 News in

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5:00 8:00 Good

Morning,Armenians

6:00 9:00 Morning

Program

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8:10 11:10 Armenian

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8:35 11:35 When the stars

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9:00 12:00 News in

Armenian

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9:40 12:40 Neighbours-

Serial

10:20 13:20 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

11:00 14:00 Telekitchen

11:25 14:25 Destiny

Captives-Serial

12:00 15:00 News in

Armenian

12:30 15:30 Escape-Serial

13:05 16:05 In fact

13:20 16:20 Love Eli

13:45 16:45 Blef

14:15 17:15 The Pages of

Life-Serial

15:00 18:00 News in

Armenian

15:30 18:30 Neighbours-

Serial

16:10 19:10 Seven Sins-

Serial

16:50 19:50 Point of view

16:55 19:55 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

17:35 20:35 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

18:00 21:00 News in

Armenian

18:30 21:30 Destiny

Captives-Serial

19:05 22:05 Escape-Serial

19:45 22:45 Tonight show

with Hovo

20:25 23:25 Cool Program

20:45 23:45 Bumerang

21:00 0:00 News in

Armenian

21:25 0:25 A Drop of

Honey

22:00 1:00 Bernard Show

23:30 2:30 Telekitchen

0:00 3:00 Fathers and

Sons

1:15 4:15 Health

Program

1:35 4:35 Love Eli

2:00 5:00 Tonight show

with Hovo

2:40 5:40 Point of view

2:45 5:45 In fact

3:00 6:00 The Pages of

Life-Serial

3:45 6:45 Seven Sins-

Serial

actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographers

John Bailey and Steven Poster;

executive Bill Mechanic; and producers

Gale Anne Hurd, David Nicksay,

Peter Samuelson, Robert Shapiro

and Buffy Shutt.

eST PST

4:30 7:30 News in

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5:00 8:00 Bumerang

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Program

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of America)

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2:00 5:00 Tonight show

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3:00 6:00 Fathers and

Sons

3:45 6:45 Seven Sins-

Serial

eST PST

4:30 7:30 The Armenian

Film

6:00 9:00 VOA(The Voice

of America)

6:20 9:20 Morning

Program

7:25 10:25 A Drop of

Honey

7:50 10:50 Cool Program

8:10 11:10 Bernard Show

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9:25 12:25 Yere1(ye:re:

van)

9:50 12:50 When the stars

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11:00 14:00 Destiny

Captives-Serial

11:35 14:35 Unhappy

Happiness - Serial

14:25 17:25 Yo-Yo

14:50 17:50 My Big, Fat

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15:50 18:50 Cost of life-

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17:00 20:00 A Drop of

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17:25 20:25 Destiny

Captives-Serial

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Film

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of America)

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1:15 4:15 Cool Program

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2:30 5:30 Fathers and

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3:30 6:30 Bumerang

Eric Nazarian wins prestigious Nicholl screenwriting fellowship

Eric Nazarian.

Fellowships are awarded with the understanding

that the recipients will each

complete a feature-length screenplay

during their fellowship year. The Academy

acquires no rights to the works of

Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself

commercially in any way with their

completed scripts.

Since the program’s inception in 1985,

108 fellowships have been awarded, and

a number of recipients have achieved

considerable success. Two 1999 fellows

saw their works on the big screen this

year: Annmarie Morais wrote How

She Move, which premiered at the 2007

Sundance Film Festival and opened in

theaters in January; and Rebecca Sonnenshine

co-wrote The Haunting of Molly

Hartley, which opened on Halloween.

Sonnenshine also wrote American Zombie,

released earlier this year. Kurt Kuenne,

a 2002 fellow, wrote and directed

the documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter

to a Son about His Father, slated for release

later this month. This year’s Tribeca

Film Festival hosted the premiere of

2003 Fellow James Mottern’s Trucker,

which he directed from his Nicholl-winning

script. f

Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008 C11


w w w. h a y a s a . u s

10x15.indd 1 9/22/08 3:48:09 PM

C12 Armenian Reporter Arts & Culture November 15, 2008

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