AGBU’s Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School Showcases New Production of ‘Ara Keghetsig’

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PASADENA, Calif. — On March 14 and 15, AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School’s Elective Armenian Drama class put on a production of Nayiri Zarian’s play, “Ara Keghetsig,” under the direction of Lora Kuyumjian. Nearly 1,000 people attended over the course of two days to see students from Grades nine to 12 display not only their acting talents, but their knowledge of the Armenian language, as well.

The play’s first act takes place in the ancient Assyrian kingdom, depicting a visit by Armenian King Ara Keghetsig (Ara the Beautiful) to King Ninos, played by Deeown Shaverdian, and his devious queen, Shamiram, portrayed by Sareen Habeshian. Queen Shamiram has her husband arrested and beheaded so that she can marry King Ara, played by Armand Yerjanian. The second act covers the Armenian royal family’s frantic state

and subsequent chaos in the kingdom. The noble Ara refuses Shamiram’s courtship due to his loyalty to his wife and country, which brings about two countries heading to battle in the final act. Although Shamiram commands her officers to bring Ara to her alive, he is killed fol- lowing a misunderstanding. In the end, the Armenian people did not despair, as they had their king amongst them until his death.

During the matinee performance on March 14, five local Armenian schools — including the AGBU Manoogian-Demirjian School, the St. Gregory A. & M. Hovsepian School, the Sahag- Mesrob Armenian Christian School, C&E

Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School and the Armenian Sisters’ Academy — filled the auditorium.

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Community members, teachers and students were impressed at the talent and professional- ism of the student-actors, particularly because of the dense language and the dialogue, which was very different from the modern Armenian spoken today. With its décor and costumes, live- ly dancers and theatrical intensity, the produc- tion was well-received by both the general pub- lic and several reviewers from newspapers, which had nothing but words of praise for everyone involved.