Last year, playwright and director Aram Kouyoumdjian disbanded his highly regarded Sacramento group Vista Players, left his job as an attorney with a local law firm and split town. Kouyoumdjian traveled a bit in South America and Asia. He did some writing, thought about the future and eventually settled in the Los Angeles area, where he grew up.Happily, Kouyoumdjian’s interest in staging thoughtful theater and developing new works hasn’t waned. For the next two weekends, Kouyoumdjian and two local actors—Vista veterans Jan Ahders and J.D. Rudometkin—are holding what amounts to a Sacramento reunion, performing two short plays written and directed by Kouyoumdjian.
Ahders appears in The Delicate Lines. It’s a new piece that tells the story of an Armenian woman whose brother, a poet, has descended into madness. The play also deals with the woman’s conflicted love for her brother’s best friend. Rudometkin will appear in a revised version of Protest, the semi-autobiographical work Kouyoumdjian first staged locally in 2001. Protest is built around the playwright’s experience at a demonstration against Turkish denials of the Armenian genocide.
The Armenian genocide provides the context for both plays. Between 1915 and 1923, Turkey organized mass deportations and massacres of Armenians. Many Armenian families were dispersed around the world, including to California. Some writers have drawn parallels between the Armenian genocide and ethnic genocides in World War II, like the Holocaust or the Rape of Nanjing. As with those events, there are books and Web sites that maintain the Armenian genocide never took place.
Kouyoumdjian’s double bill plays the next two weekends at California Stage, located at 1723 25th Street. It’s the first stop on a three-city tour that continues to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Shows are at 8 pm. on Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday through April 17. Call (916) 451-5822 for more information.