Special to Asbarez By Teni Khachaturian
Sitting in the darkened Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood–CA–the sold-out audience is not sure what to expect. The stage–a few inches from the front row–is a Persian rug covered with magazines–bags of chips–and bottles of Coke-Cola. The fluorescent pink program–featuring a young woman’s penetrating eyes–reads "Sitting Twisted–Talking Straight" starring Lory Tatoulian. These eyes belong to Lory–and the one-woman’show–which she wrote and directed as well as stars in–is a path to understanding who she is and where she comes from.
When asked to describe her five scene performance piece–Lory says "It’s raw and powerful." It is that–and so much more. "Sitting Twisted–Talking Straight" is funny–bold–and thought provoking. And for many young Armenian-Americans–hits very close to home. Lory masterfully represents the challenges of intertwining her Armenian heritage with her American influences. But this piece is not just about assimilation and the fear of losing one’s Armenian identity. It is a comedic commentary on modern-day society–dealing with the negative impact of the media and the horrors of superficiality.
The show opens with Lory as Simone Cachatone–an amalgam of every anorexic super model that graces the covers of fashion magazines across the globe. Her representation of haute couture involves dresses that are covered with everything from peacock feathers to tampons. This satire on "modern-day superficiality gone awry" grabs the audience and does not let go for the next one hour and ten minutes.
Lory moves on to a descriptive retelling of her grandmother’s experiences during the Armenian Genocide. Her grandmother–who shaved her head and dressed as a boy to escape Turkish capture–was forced to mask her identity to flea persecution. Lory relates the tragedies of the past with those of today’s consumer culture–and how each is a threat to identity. She represents the struggles of being Armenian–being a woman–and being an individual–yet at the same time fitting in and being accepted.
The show culminates with a powerful scene that incorporates sacred symbols of Armenian culture and religion with materialistic representations of Western society. Lory–wearing a white wedding dress–immersed in a pool of water–covers herself with everything from wine to Coke-Cola. She "baptizes" herself with holy water and Doritos. This image is the pinnacle of her struggle to assimilate–balancing the ideas of traditionalism and progressivism.
"I want the audience to leave here full of ideas," says Lory–as she catches her breath between kisses and congratulations. "I want them to think about their identity as Armenia’s and Americans–what we should and should not value–and by assimilating–what we hold onto and what we let go of."
Lory Tatoulian is a ground-breaking artist who not only leaves her audience full of ideas–but inspires them to think–feel–and even laugh at themselves. She is a bold Armenian woman who is not afraid to let people see her for who she is and is single-handedly revolutionizing the world of Armenian art.
Her Los Angeles performance marks the end of her tour with "Sitting Twisted–Talking Straight." She has taken this show to 7 different cities over the last year and a half and is currently in the process of creating her next project. For Lory–ending this show is "like letting go of a best friend?I am sad–but it’s time to move on."