by Suren Deheryan
Three years ago a group of Armenian actors formed the Moscow Armenian Theater, and already some have been cast in popular Russian feature films. The theater was created by the “Ya” studio under the management of director Slava Stepanian.
Housed in the Embassy of Armenia and on Armyanski Piriulok (Armenian Lane) in Moscow, the theater has staged plays by Armenian, Spanish, French and American writers.
Stepanian, a native of Armenia, moved to Moscow in 2001 from Tbilisi, Georgia, where he’d worked at the Petros Adamyan State Armenian Drama Theater. While at the Adamyan, he was nominated for the National Prize of Georgia in the field of theatrical arts for his staging of Francis Pulenka’s “Human Voice”.
“When bad times began in Georgia I decided to give up everything and come to Moscow,” Stepanian, 42, says. There, after more years of struggling, he finally opened the Moscow theater, with the help of former director of the cultural center of the Armenian Embassy Gagik Gabrielian and Armenia’s Ambassador to Russia Armen Smbatian.
The repertoire of the Moscow Armenian Theater includes seven plays ranging from comedy to psychological drama. As the theater’s head says, it is not an experimental, but a “professional theater”.
“For three years we have been working hard for this and students and lecturers of the higher Moscow theater institutes such as GITIS (State Institute of Theater Art), VGIK (All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography), MKhAT (Moscow Artistic Academic Theater), and others work with us. And such work has produced a positive result. Our actors today are in demand and many of them have acted in Russian movies such as ‘Ninth Company,’ ‘Bayazet’, ‘Ambulance Service-2’…”
The theater’s production of “Don’t Hurt a Man… Maybe he is Mozart” by Leonid Yengibarov opened the Moscow International Festival of Pantomime last autumn.
The play “Human Voice” by Jean Cocteau, is presented in three languages – Russian, Armenian and French. “It is a psychological drama. And as different viewers come to us, we want to make it available to a greater audience.”
Currently, the theater is preparing a satirical play “Pictures of Old Tbilisi”, as well as on Sergey Parajanov’s “Miracle in Odense”.
“In Tbilisi I worked for 10 years under Parajanov’s direction, I was next to him when he was preparing this script for a TV film, but he did not have time to finish it. And it is my duty, my obligation to complete it, to embody to some extent his ideas on stage. Mentally, I dedicate each staging to the great Maestro,” Stepanian says.
An affiliate of the Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinema is due to open in Moscow this year where Armenian and Russian teachers will jointly train actors and film directors. The idea according to Stepanian, came from Ambassador Smbatyan.