Scenes from the recent production of "Love French Style"

New Productions, Revivals Bring Life to Yerevan Theatres


By Gerald Papasian

Special to the Mirror-Spectator

YEREVAN — While protests erupted again in Yerevan on February 25, spectators rushed to the Malian Theatre to enjoy once again my production of Hagop Baronian’s “The Dentist … Again?”

On the same evening, the State Chamber Musical Theatre opened a new play, Marc Camoletti’s “Love French Style,” which was repeated on February 26, despite continuous massive demonstrations right next to the theatre.

Theatre lovers filled the house notwithstanding chaotic traffic jams created by the riots.

I attended the second performance of “Love French Style” and witnessed how the public enjoyed itself for an hour and a half, non-stop.

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Some may find it frivolous to allow oneself such light “entertainment,” a typical naughty-naughty French comedy.

Nonetheless, I’m not too sure if the “farce” was not taking place on the other side of the theatre walls, in the street! Mr. and Mrs. Ceausescu’s execution was re-enacted next door, on Baghramyan Street, to the “amusement” of the protesters. Perhaps that sort of black humor is more to the taste of some? Different lives on parallel streets! On one side: chaos and hatred, on the other, a celebration of life and love!

A scene from “Love French Style”

The director of “Love French Style” was Karapet Karajyan, who successfully performed in my production of Alan Ayckbourn’s “Bedroom Farce” last year (to reopen incidentally on March 5th at the same theatre). This play was his official debut as a director, and he was able to maintain a fast pace, emblematic to French comedies. I was happy to see how the Parisian tempo and dynamics were brilliantly executed, something I had found lacking in Armenia when I first directed an archetypally French Sacha Guitry play and the rapid-fire romp “Dentist” a few years ago.

Karajyan was also able to fully exploit his young actors’ physical attributes and athletic/aesthetic gifts. It is so refreshing and encouraging to see this new generation getting rid of past “traditional-Armenian” taboos and archaic bashfulness with such contemporary freedom of body and mind, physical audacity, totally unafraid of goofing around with such unrestrained silliness.

The youthful and enthusiastic cast includes a bunch of wild and attractive actors; Hayk Petrosyan, Arthur Petrosyan, Georg Vardanyan, and hilariously droll (and sexy) comediennes Arevik Avetisyan, Laura Torosyan, and Ani Nikoyan.

The thirst for light-hearted entertainment is palpable on stage and off.

A scene from “Love French Style”

If the reader still thinks this sounds a bit trivial in the midst of what is happening now in Armenia, I insist on the opposite view and say it is vital; a fundamental necessity that must enjoy the full support of the government.

Allow me, on this occasion, to mention just two reproaches. This does not only refer to this particular performance nor this specific company. The contemporary Armenian stage suffers noticeably from a lack of voice and speech training. Diction is mostly rather poor and quite often sentences are more double-guessed by the public than properly heard. The audience should not only fully understand the text but also avoid asking one another “what did he say?” Perhaps audiences are also to blame for being less demanding in this particular field having been used to watching TV shows and not bothering to miss some of the dialogue. After all, speech is the most essential craft to master in the art of theatre. I am hopeful that this deficiency will be corrected shortly.

The second, more dangerous problem, is the fact that most audience members are still not wearing masks while the performers are risking their lives on stage to provide them with a few hours of art and culture.

Living-art performers ought to be considered as working in high-risk and therefore be fully supported by the Ministry of health and be tested free of charge. They must also be considered priority cases like doctors and medical staff members when vaccination reaches Armenia.

“Love French Style”

To audiences, in Armenia, all I can say is to stop behaving like irresponsible children lest the theatres are closed down once again.

“Love French Style” was designed by Mary Areyan, the choreographer was Naka Mirzoyan and the musical design was by the director himself.

Congratulations to all and carry on the good and crucially vital work.




Gerald Papasian


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