NEW YORK — While the Armenian Genocide occurred a century ago, descendants of victims are still grappling with the consequences of this historic calamity and what the centennial means to them and to the future of the Armenian nation and diaspora. These issues are explored in the play, “From Sacred Wrath,” which will be performed on April 18 and 19 at the Davenport Theatre here.
The story centers around the Armenian-American Khatchadourian family, that shares mixed emotions as the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaches: a grandmother who is unable to share her story of survival, as she is still traumatized by her escape; a young woman who forges ties to a Turkish journalist much to the chagrin of her patriotic father, and brother, who vows to fight for the future of his homeland by enlisting in the Nagorno Karabagh Defense Army.
This play, written and directed by Taleen Babayan, reflects the various outlooks and struggles facing Armenians around the world today as the centennial of the Armenian Genocide approaches. The themes of denial, nationalism, reconciliation and human rights abuses are explored and come to life on stage through the talented cast of diverse and professional actors, including Karnig Nercessian, playing the role of Hovsep, the patriotic patriarch of the family, Constance Cooper, playing the role of Aghavni, an Armenian Genocide survivor, Ani Djirdjirian, playing the role of Areni, a history teacher who has a more modern outlook on reconciliation, Raffi Wartanian, playing the role of Soghomon, an American-born Armenian who feels a desire to return to his homeland, Cihangir Duman, playing the role of Cemal, a Turkish journalist who is unable to call the Armenian massacres a genocide, Jamie Alana, playing the role of Ayesha, a Darfur Genocide survivor, and Haig Hovnanian, playing the role of Alex, a childhood friend of the family’s.
“Soghomon’s burning patriotism is something that exists within me and has evolved over the years,” said Wartanian, a New York City-based performer, writer and musician who received his theater training with John Astin, Krista Smith, Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and the New York Neo Futurists. “Soghomon gives me an opportunity to embrace a passion and certainty for something I question. He allows me to stop questioning, and to believe once again in something greater than myself in the form of nation and identity. Yet at the core of his struggle is a universal journey of self-discovery by coming to terms with love for family. Soghomon is a complicated ball of contradictions ripe for exploration and embrace on the stage.”
Wartanian, who as a musician has performed throughout Armenia and the United States as well as in Beirut and Prague, spent a year living in Armenia as a Fulbright Scholar. He brings his own personal experiences to the role as an Armenian born in Baltimore to grandparents who fled the Armenian Genocide and parents who left Beirut during the Civil War.