LOS ANGELES — The world premiere of “Constantinople,” the latest work by award-winning playwright and director Aram Kouyoumdjian, is being staged by Vista Players, the acclaimed theater ensemble that “set the standard by which others were judged,” at the Secret Rose Theatre in North Hollywood. “Constantinople” will open on Friday, September 27, for a six-weekend run through November 2.
A tale of resilience, the fast-paced, 90-minute production focuses on the Armenian community in the former Ottoman capital during the post-Genocide era at a time of political intrigue, military struggle, and a growing feminist movement.
“Constantinople” centers around Vehanoush, the editor of a feminist journal, and Roupen, a guerilla fighter (“fedayee”), who coordinate missions for the recovery of women and children abducted during the Genocide and also for the transport of weapons into Armenia. Their idealism is challenged, however, as the political situation around them takes a darker turn and endangers their own lives.
“While it has the colossal calamity of the Genocide as its point of departure, the play is not a tale of mourning or lament,” according to Kouyoumdjian. “It’s not a tale of victimhood. Its characters are all fighters — either literally or metaphorically — so it’s a tale of resilience, highly-charged and propulsive.”
Jade Hykush (Vehanoush) and Travis Laughlin (Roupen) are joined in the cast by Eva Abramian, Jonathan Fishman, Kristin Mothersbaugh, Luc Rosenthal and Robert Walters. The show’s design team features Alan Tollefson (sets), Henrik Mansourian (lighting), and Allison Dillard (costumes), fresh off an Ovation Award win. Ara Dabandjian is the production’s original music composer and Armineh Hovanesian its stage manager.
Kouyoumdjian is the winner of Elly Awards for both playwriting (“The Farewells”) and directing (“Three Hotels”), and has been hailed for having “an adventurous artistic sensibility for intelligent productions” (Sacramento Bee). His feature plays and solo pieces have been performed in half a dozen cities, from Los Angeles (Fountain Theatre) to London (Finborough Theatre). His most recent productions include “Happy Armenians”; the open-air, site-specific performance “i Go On” at DTLA’s Grand Park; and last year’s world premiere of “William Saroyan: The Unpublished Plays in Performance.”