I am happy that in those distant places with large Armenian populations, the foundation of the Armenian dramatic arts exists, one of the initiators of which is a youth educated from the same source as I. – Vahram Papazian
BEIRUT — Berj Fazlian, who died last week at age 90, was born on December 4, 1926 in Istanbul. He obtained his education at a local drama institute, and by 1944 was participating in local plays. He directed some 10 plays in Istanbul, among which were Ben Johnson’s “Volpone” and Moliere’s “The Miser.”
He conducted his initial experiments in Armenian theater through Armenian plays, but he also attempted to give new ascendance to his art. Istanbul no longer had anything to impart to him. A Turkish lecturer who was friendly toward Fazlian said to him: “Swear to me that you will never leave the theater…This place is not suitable for you. Do not forget that you are Armenian. Why would a leading role be given to an Armenian [here]?” This lesson was sufficient for Fazlian, who left Istanbul in 1951.
He settled in Beirut and formed a family while continuing his theatrical activities. He married the painter Sirvart Krikorian in 1959, and soon they had two children. His son Harout became a famous conductor and artistic director of various symphonic orchestras in a number of Middle Eastern countries.
In Beirut, he founded the Nor Pem (“New Stage”) theater group in 1956, Vahram Papazian (for the Armenian Youth Association) in 1959, and Azad Pem (“Free Stage”) in 1971. They were widely covered in Armenian, Arabic and French-language newspapers. Fazlian was invited to direct the plays of the Rahbani brothers, with the participation of the world-famous Lebanese singer Fayrouz, in the Baalbek festival, as well as in Beirut and Damascus. For 16 years he directed the musical dramas of the Rahbani brothers.