For the past three years, Antaeus has partnered with the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) to present an evening that commemorates the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Last night we presented Triumph of the Armenian Spirit, which showcased excerpts from four new Armenian plays.
Serving as a partner to our local community is central to the Antaeus mission. We believe that theater is a profoundly social act, which is inherent in the way that we all experience it. The actors are not on a screen; you’re not watching with your earbuds in while you sit on the bus. The actors and audience share the same space. When we watch a piece of theater, we are sharing it and living it at the same moment as the stranger sitting next to us and the performer on stage.
Partnering with the ADAA, a not-for-profit Armenian organization for film and theatre, is particularly meaningful for us as members of the Glendale community. Armenians make up somewhere between 30-40% of the Glendale population. The influence of the Armenian population is evident across the city. One can see the Armenian flag waving from cars as they drive down Broadway. Armenian lettering adorns everything from churches to auto repair shops. Armenian businesses, schools, churches, and art abound.
For all that, though, your only familiarity with the Armenian culture may be the Kardashians (and maybe you didn’t even know that.) Which is fine. But, that is why we choose to partner with the ADAA on this event. We think it is important to illuminate diverse human experiences through performance, and we have a platform from which to do it.
The Armenian community, like many in the U.S., came here after facing persecution around the rest of the world. Though Armenian Christians have faced persecution throughout history, the biggest threat to their lives came in the early 20th century from the Ottoman Turks. From 1915-16, about 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in a genocide.
Into this place of sadness and pain comes art. Art and theater play an integral role in the healing process; they allow stories from the past to live on and be shared with the future. The show was called Triumph of the Armenian Spirit because death and sadness do not define the Armenian experience. Though plagued by troubles, from Turkey to the USSR, the Armenian people have survived and flourished. Here in Glendale, where over 80,000 Armenians reside, we are so proud to play our small part in helping this identity thrive.
The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance is celebrating its 14th operating year! Learn more about the ADAA here.
Photo credit: Karin Armen