CAMBRIDGE–The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA)–a newly established organization dedicated to promoting theater and film–has made its debut with a new website highlighting theater and film artists of Armenian heritage and their achievemen’s. The website–www.armeniandrama.org–represents the organization’s first step toward realizing its mission to "make the Armenian voice heard on the world stage through the dramatic arts of theater and film."
The ADAA calls itself an "Alliance," and that is apparent in its effort to provide something for anyone interested in the dramatic arts–from the scholar to the networking professional to the theater lover. Designed in contemporary shades of blue–gold–and chocolate brown–the website was established with the support of the Techfusion Corporation in Cambridge–Massachusetts–where the ADAA headquarters is located. It has applied for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
The idea of a meeting place on the web was initially conceived by Bianca Bagatourian–Diana Hekimian–and Anne Vardanian in May of this year in California. Over the summer–Bianca Bagatourian and Joyce Van Dyke–both Boston-based playwrights–created the organization and website. ADAA now has advisors and affiliates on both coasts and abroad.
The ADAA website focuses on the work of Armenian playwrights and screenwriters and is the first site on the web to collect and make available Armenian play-texts which have been translated into English–including works by major 19th century and 20th century Armenian playwrights. ADAA also hopes to commission more such translations each year.
Among the major 20th century writers featured on the site are playwright William Saroyan and screenwriter/filmmaker Atom Egoyan whose biographies as well as articles and essays about their work are available on the site.
On its "Spotlight" page–the website pays tribute to the notable achievemen’s of directors–actors–and other theater and film artists: among them are Sergei Paradjanov–creator of a world-renowned film oeuvre; the late world class stage and screen director Rouben Mamoulian; and acclaimed contemporary actors Arsine Khanjian–Simon Abkarian–and Karen Kondazian. The occasional non-Armenian is also included–most notably Richard Kalinoski–whose play about the Armenian genocide–"Beast on the Moon," has been produced and highly acclaimed internationally.
Visitors to the site can click on "What’s on" to get information about upcoming festivals–productions–and events related to Armenian film and theater. Visitors can also find information about the history of Armenian drama as well as a rich collection of essays and articles–and interviews with actors and filmmakers from Joan Agajanian Quinn’s cable TV show–"The Joan Quinn Profiles." Other features of the website include a directory of professionals in all aspects of theater–film–and media–from boom operators and stuntmen to costume designers–directors–and studio executives. The directory currently lists over 500 Armenian professionals and one click takes you to a Google search of their names.
"We couldn’t have developed the website so quickly without all the help from scholars–stage and screen actors–writers–and organizations like NAASR," says Joyce Van Dyke–ADAA co-founder and author of the play "A Girl’s War," adding: "So many people in the Armenian community have responded with such enthusiasm to this project."
One feature of the website which reaches beyond the performing arts is the oral histories of Genocide survivors. These are selections from the oral history tapes loaned to ADAA by the Armenian Library Museum of America and digitized by Techfusion. These oral histories have never before been publicly released. The excerpts–which are in English–can be heard on the website.
Further exploration of the website uncovers historical tidbits such as the fact that playwright Levon Shant’s "Ancient Gods" was so successful that royalties from the 1913 production financed his move to Europe for the next five years. Thus he was able to escape the 1915 Armenian genocide that claimed the lives of many of his colleagues. Visitors to the site can also click on the text of Shant’s "Ancient Gods," or dive into other plays including those in two recent collections: "Contemporary Armenian American Drama," edited by Nishan Parlakian–and "Modern Armenian Drama," edited by S. Peter Cowe and Nishan Parlakian–both members of ADAA’s Honorary Board along with Saroyan expert Dickran Kouymjian and Lifetime Obie Award winning playwright Mac Wellman.
Playwright Bianca Bagatourian–ADAA’s President and co-founder says: "The reason for the website is to connect us to one another and to our cultural heritage so that we can tell our stories. We believe this is something long past due. It’s time our stories were told."
For further information on the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA)–contact the Alliance at [email protected] or (617)871-6764.