SAN FRANCISCO — Golden Thread Productions announces the world premiere of “Night over Erzinga,” a powerful and soul-stirring play by award-winning playwright and actor Adriana Sevahn Nichols. Sevahn Nichols is the first recipient of the Middle East America: a National New Plays Initiative, a commissioning project founded and managed by three national organizations: the Bay Area’s Golden Thread Productions, New York’s Lark Play Development Center and Chicago’s Silk Road Theatre Project.
Sevahn Nichols’ “Night over Erzinga” is a moving story about the immigrant experience in the US and the endurance of the human spirit. The central characters, Ardavazt and Alice, build a new life in the US in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide but the past comes to haunt them in very different ways. Inspired by Nichols’ personal heritage as a Dominican- Armenian-American, this story explores how a man can lose two families in one lifetime, but not lose his heart; and how a grandmother can reach through time, to unearth the untold story and bring her children “home.”
This tender epic spans two continents and three generations, from Western Armenia of 1913, to 1930s Massachusetts, to 1960s New York. The magical story reunites ancestors with the living, as they each search for solace and a way to make peace with the past. Nichols’ poetic and comic language incorporates the world of symbols and icons, spirits and the invisible, along with the everyday concerns of survival and keeping a family together.
The playwright’s Armenian grandparents immigrated to the United States from Erzinga and Shabin- Karahisar (part of Turkish Armenia) in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Nichols’ grandfather, Ardavazt Oghidanian, was the sole survivor of his family. Nichols’ reflection on her grandfather’s experience launched a three-year journey to develop “Night over Erzinga.”
Nichols described the play’s origin as a way “…to discover my roots; to write my way home. To ancestors I never knew, but feel in my heart. And to find a way to belong to a history and legacy that, up until that point, in my life, was missing. As a writer, I feel called to tell the stories that will inspire, move and enrich people’s hearts. We are all on a collective journey, as a global family, and I believe theatre, at its best, has the potential to initiate transformation and healing. Although the play I have written is deeply personal and specific to the Armenians, it has been my intention that this play transcends that specificity and become universal in creating dialogues among those who see it?”
Torange Yeghiazarian, Golden Thread Productions’ artistic director, adds “‘Night over Erzinga’ is a courageous play that brings together the Armenian and Latino communities. Adriana’s unique voice and rich language is a welcome new addition to the cannon of American theater and Golden Thread is proud to introduce this important new play and playwright to Bay Area audiences.”