A Worthy Tribute


By Kevork Keushkerian

LOS ANGELES — The Armenian General Benevolent Union’s Ardavazt Theatre Company was founded in 1979. Its first performance took place the following year at the AGBU Convention in Los Angeles. Krikor Satamian, AGBU’s artistic director, assumed the responsibility of directing the Ardavazt Theatre Company in 1988.

For more than three decades, the theater company has been actively involved in the lives of Southern California theater enthusiasts by performing more than 50 dramas and comedies written by Armenian and non-Armenian authors. This tremendous success couldn’t have been achieved without the financial support of AGBU’s Central Board of Directors and the many benefactors, who over the years have been contributing generously and thus have been called “Friends of Ardavazt.” It was high time for these supporters to be honored and recognized. This worthy tribute was the brainchild of Ardavazt Theatre Company’s Committee, headed by Ara Babayan. It took place on Saturday, August 25, at the Boyadjian Hall of AGBU’s Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Center in Pasadena. The hall was artistically decorated by artist Manoug Satamian. Ardavazt Committee member John Samuelian delivered the opening remarks. He welcomed the guests and thanked the many supporters of Ardavazt Theatre Company who, over the years, had been sustaining the existence and survival of this group in times of hardship.

During dinner, more than 150 guests enjoyed the soft music provided by accordionist Nikko Ariano. After dinner, entertainment was provided by the many talented amateur actors of Ardavazt Theatre Company, under the direction of Artistic Director Krikor Satamian.

The comedic sketches performed included a scene in the nail salon, where the Vietnamese proprietor was keenly interested in marrying her son. Another sketch was a scene from Othello, where Othello and Desdemona conversed in Indian. Although no one understood the language, the body language and facial contractions conveyed the meaning of the sketch, making it enjoyable to the audience.

A scene depicting a trial in the people’s court was hilarious, as the Persian- Armenian wife was seeking divorce from her Lebanese-Armenian husband, and none of them were in command of the English language. The self-professed interpreter made the sketch more interesting by looking after his own interest, rather than that of the disenchanted couple.

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Other sketches included a scene from “Dancing with the Stars” of Ardavazt, a poetic recitation of a letter from Lebanon sent to her son-in-law, followed by songs and dances.

The highlight of the evening was the surprise announcement by Ara Babayan that the Ardavazt Theatre Company had been renamed Krikor Satamian Theatre Company, with the blessing of the AGBU’s Central Board of Directors. Then, he and his committee members presented Satamian with a portrait of him sketched on wood, later to be engraved on bronze. This was a gift on the occasion of Satamian’s Golden Jubilee as an actor, director and comedian.

Committee member Vartouhi Kazandjian read Prof. Osheen Keshishian’s letter, congratulating the committee for its initiative to honor the supporters of Ardavazt Theatre Company.

Finally, it was time for the honoree to take to the podium. Touched by the surprise announcement and humbled by this honor extended to him, he thanked the committee and promised to continue being at the helm, for the sake of preserving the Armenian language and keeping the torch of the Armenian cultural heritage alive.

Cecil Keshishian also joined in and thanked the committee for the program and for honoring the many supporters of Ardavazt Theatre Company.

At the end, DJ Armen Samuelian provided international music, which was enjoyed by young and old alike.

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