ARLINGTON, Mass. — Yearning for their homeland lost to the Soviet takeover of the Republic of Armenia on November 29, 1920, drove close to a 100,000 Armenians scattered throughout the world, mainly from the Middle East and Europe, to respond to the call of Soviet Armenian authorities in 1946, to repatriate their ancestral homeland. This historic scheme, launched about 80 years ago (1946-1949) known as the Great Repatriation (Mets Hayrenadardzut’iun) or simply nergaght (in-migration) proved to be a major disappointment and disillusionment resulting in demoralized masses, broken families, devastation and loss of innocent lives.

On Sunday, April 28, at 4 p.m., the Armenian Cultural Foundation will present “Mercedes and Zaruhi,” a solo play by Nora Armani, based on a story written by playwright Anush Aslibekyan. Based on true events, “Mercedes and Zaruhi” is the story of two Armenian sisters from Greece, whose decisions —  Mercedes’ to stay in Greece and Zaruhi’s to repatriate to her beloved Armenia — shaped their destinies.

The program is co-sponsored by the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the Armenian International Women’s Association and the Armenian Women’s Welfare Association.

Mercedes and Zaruhi explores the theme of repatriation to Soviet Armenia from the late 1940s to the early 1990s through a series of letters exchanged between two sisters. Mercedes’ letters are shared through voiceover in Armenian, although she never appears on stage. The play highlights the social, political and cultural distance and differences separating the two siblings as well as heartbreaking and disillusionment, which proved not to be unique to Zaruhi, but tens and thousands of repatriates.

Aslibekyan first created the story in 2012 and before turning it into a full play and subsequently a monologue. Originally, a full multi-actor play was presented in Armenia by Nora Armani, in the Armenian original. Subsequently, the English language translation was provided by Nora Armani. “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring the work of Anush Aslibekyan to an English-speaking audience,” Armani stated. “My work entailed translating the solo play and adapting it by adding some material, to make it clearer to a non-initiated, non-Armenian audience.” Armani also recorded her own voice in Western Armenian in the recorded segments meant to be Mercedes.

Reflecting on the play, Marvin Carlson, Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Performance at the City University of New York praised Armani’s performance and the monodrama as “… [Nora Armani] tells a great story–suspenseful, warm, human, and funny, with great characters, and [her] depiction of the slowly aging protagonist was deeply moving; especially the final scene. A memorable evening in the theatre.”

Actress Nora Armani (Xiaupeng Zhan photo)

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This play is currently on the syllabus for Modern Armenian Literature for 10th graders in Armenia and serves as an important educational resource of post-Genocide Armenian history. The production features music composed by Vahan Arzruni.

Armani is an award-winning actor/filmmaker with extensive international stage and screen credits. Recently, she filmed “Absolute Dominion,” a feature film by Lexi Alexander, for Netflix. She has appeared Off-Broadway in “Six Characters in Search of an Author” by Luigi Pirandello, “Terrorism” by the Presnyakov Brothers, “Measure for Measure” by Shakespeare (in Cairo), “La Fête Virile” (in Paris) and “Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising” (in London). Her TV and film credits include, “Blacklist,” “Redemption,” “Golden Boy,” “Casualty” (BBC), “The Friends” (EG TV), and more. For her full bio and filmography, visit or Armani was recently awarded the Cinema Achievement Award at the 38th Alexandria Film Festival, Egypt. Her most recent feature film roles are in “The Last Wish” (2023-completed) and “Jukebox” (2024-in post-production); both are Finnish-Spanish co-productions filmed in Spain and directed by Rax Rinnekangas.

An Armenian playwright, dramatist born in Armenia, Aslibekyan has been a member of the Association of Armenian Writers since 2012. She is the author of five books. Many of her works have been translated into different languages, including Polish, German, Greek and Russian. Anush was the founder and senior editor at Arvest Art Magazine (2000-2005), head of the literature department at Hamazgayin State Theatre (2008-2009), and a TV anchor, reporter, commentator at Ararat TV of Public Television Company of Armenia (2008–2010). Since 2006, she has been a researcher at the Art Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and she teaches theatre history, literature and dramaturgy courses. Her plays have been performed in Armenia and internationally in more than 20 festivals, winning awards. Aslibekyan wrote and runs the “Two in Search of an Author” program on Noah’s Ark channel, dedicated to contemporary literature and art.

The event is open to the public. Tickets ($15) will be available for purchase at the door or by contacting the ACF or by email: Seating limited. A reception will follow immediately after the play.

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