BOSTON— Playwright Judith Boyajian Strang-Waldau has made both Genocide recognition and highlighting resilient women who survived its atrocities part of her mission. No one seems more aware than Strang-Waldau that a journey towards any destination begins with a single step. In her case, the steps have been giant ones.
Last March she conducted a reading for the first act of her play, “Women of Ararat,” sponsored by the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA). The cast included several Armenian actors from Greater Boston and New York including Nancy Tutunjian Berger, June Murphy Katz, Judy Davis, Jennifer Guzelian Flanagan, Joy Renjilian and Sofie Refojo.
“The result was unexpectedly moving when I heard my words making people laugh and cry,” she recalled. “The audience was mixed with both Armenians and non-Armenians. Although Armenians have heard these stories before, they cried along with those who were hearing them for the first time.”
Three Armenian women approached the playwright after the reading to thank her for finally giving them a voice. It made an impact, even with those familiar with the Armenian story.
“I still can’t read the end of Act 2 without crying,” Strang-Waldau revealed. “It is written in the voice of my grandmother whom I adored. When I think about what she lived through in the old country and when she came to America, I am astonished by her continued strength and loving nature, despite what she saw happen all around her. This play is dedicated to my grandmothers from whom I was given such a rich heritage. They lived in Watertown.”