AGBU Celebrates Renowned Actor, Director and Entertainer Krikor Satamian’s Golden Jubilee


By Aleen L. Khanjian

PASADENA, Calif. — On Sunday, October 30, at 6:30 p.m., the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) will celebrate the Golden Jubilee of renowned actor, entertainer, comedian and director Krikor Satamian. The program, featuring speakers Assadour Guzelian from London, England, and Sarkis Minassian, as well as lifelong friends, co-stars and admirers of Satamian, will commemorate and honor his 50 years as an entertainer.

While Satamian is well known for his current role as director of the AGBU Ardavazt Theatre Group in Los Angeles, where he has served for a large part of his career, in addition to his role as the AGBU Western District’s artistic director, there is no denying that his history, diverse training and contribution to the international theatrical community is enduring.

Following his graduation from the American University of Beirut (AUB), Satamian attended the London School of Film Technique as well as the Bristol Old Vic Theater School. Following a season of theatrical performances at the Belgrade Theater in Coventry City, England, he returned to Lebanon to serve as the artistic director of the AGBU Vahram Papazian Theatre Group. While in Lebanon, Satamian also served as a lecturer of drama at AUB.

Satamian joined the AGBU Vahram Papazian Theatre Group as a young actor in 1960. Twelve years later, as its artistic director, he led the same theatre group on a well-received tour of Armenia. In 1975, Satamian led the group to France, England and Cyprus. Following his work with the Vahram Papazian Theatre Group, he went on to teach at the Bristol Old Vic Theater School before becoming resident director at New York’s famous, Off-Broadway company, “Colonnades Theater Lab,” in 1976. After his success at Colonnades, Satamian was invited to the “Hope Summer Repertory Company” to direct on three subsequent occasions.

Satamian has been an avid, active member of the AGBU since his early childhood. In 1978, here rejoined his beloved organization, in New York City, as its national artistic director. Since the 1970s, he has founded several AGBU theater companies in Boston, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. He was the artistic director of the AGBU Ardashad Theatre Group, as well as the producer and anchor of the AGBU-Spotlight Armenians TV program in New York City. In 1988, Satamian was appointed as artistic director of the AGBU Western District, and permanently relocated to Los Angeles. He then became the director of the AGBU Ardavazt Theater Group, which he had helped establish in 1979 together with Haig Messerlian and Parsegh Kartalian. To date, Satamian has directed and staged 75 plays, three operettas and acted in 85 productions.

Krikor Satamian with Buck Kartalian

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Some of Satamian’s most memorable characters include: Off-Broadway, with the Classic Theater, in Shirvanzadeh’s “Evil Spirit” in the demanding role of Kij-Taniel and later, in Nishan Parlakian’s “Grandma Pray For Me,” in the lead role of Deacon. Satamian acted in two successful AGBU professional productions in English: “Three Acts of Love” at the Fireside Theater, in North Hollywood, and Raffi Arzoomanian’s “The Moths” at the Hudson Backstage Theater, in Hollywood. Satamian also partakes in professional American productions. Some of his TV credits include: “Suddenly Susan,” “The Naked Truth,” “Team Knight Rider,” “Mad TV” and “Alias.” Satamian’s film credits include: “Assignment Berlin,” “Chickpeas,” “One False Step,” “Subterfuge,” “Enemies of Laughter,” “After Freedom,” “Pomegranate,” as well as “Must Love Dogs,” which stars, Diane Lane, John Cusack and Christopher Plummer.

Satamian is credited as the first actor to introduce the art of stand-up comedy in the Armenian performing art, in 1984. Since then, he has given more than 150 performances in all the major cities of the United States and Canada. Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Principal Nat Brenner wrote about him, “Mr. Satamian has proved one of the most gifted and brilliant students of the theatre it has ever been my experience and pleasure to direct.” It is no wonder that Satamian has maintained his legendary appeal, more than 50 years later.

All are invited to partake in Krikor Satamian’s Golden Jubiliee celebration on October 30, at 6:30 p.m., at the Pasadena AGBU Center located at 2495 E. Mountain St. For more information, call the AGBU Western District Office.

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