Asset 3


End of content No more pages to load

Your search did not match any articles

Yeranuhi Soghoyan

Gyumri Dramatic Theater Prepares for New Season; Details Pending Due to Coronavirus Restrictions

The Gyumri Dramatic Theater is forging ahead to stage its new performance season which is dedicated to the 115th birthday of famed director and actor Vardan Ajemian, a Van native, who founded the theater in 1928.

Theater aficionados in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city, are anxiously awaiting the start of the new season which marks the theater’s 155th.

Given the ongoing coronavirus state of emergency, however, when the season will kick-off, the format, and the number of attendees remains up in the air. 

The last performance in the theater was on March 12, 2020. The new season was scheduled to start two days later. But on March 16, due to the epidemic, a state of emergency was declared in Armenia, and for the sixth month in a row, Gyumri residents haven’t been able to see a live performance. 

Gyumri theater goers haven’t turned in their tickets for the 18 performances scheduled for April and May and are waiting for the restrictions to be lifted.

"I have to thank our audience. We really have a special audience," says Ludwig Harutyunyan, the theater's director. “None of our ticket subscribers have returned their tickets. People are patiently waiting for the end of the epidemic, hoping to return to the theater again, and this places a responsibility on us.”

The coronavirus outbreak, among other sectors, also dictated its terms to the theatrical world. First, there was the two-month stay at home regulation, followed by an easing of the law allowing small group activity. It was then proposed to stage performances on-line. Now, performances can be staged out in the open, but actors and theater goers are impatiently waiting for the day when performances can return to the theater proper.

"We followed all the instructions of State of Emergency Command and tried to keep in touch with the audience in all possible ways. People had the opportunity to watch our archive performances online. We have an open-air performance on September 1, scheduled to take place at the Youth House. In the meantime, we are rehearsing two new plays. When it is announced that we can start hall performances, we will stage two premieres," says Harutyunyan.

atchemyan theatre_2.jpg (289 KB)

The past six months have been challenging for the theater. The 120-member staff has not been reduced, but due to the risk of viral infection, contact with staffers in the vulnerable senior age-group have been limited. 

The new performances mainly involve young actors.

Rehearsals for Spanish playwright Antonio Buero Vallejo’s En la ardiente oscuridad (1951; In the Burning Darkness) are currently underway at the Gyumri Drama Theater. 

The play, about the problems of the blind, is directed by Rafael Asatryan. The director of the other play is Ludwig Harutyunyan.

"We also try to keep in touch with young audiences. On September 1, we will stage an outdoor performance of Korzhik, Compote and Caramelka. As part of the grant provided by the Theater Support Fund, we have shot 20 fables, each lasting eight minutes, and they will be aired starting on September 1. We have taken the works of Vardan Aygektsi, Mkhitar Gosh, Atabek Khnkoyan and Hovhannes Tumanyan and converted them into short performances. All this will be presented by People's Artist of Armenia Anahit Kocharyan,” says Harutyunyan.

As a state institution, the Gyumri Drama Theater receives an annual government subsidy which cover’s 90% of its operating budget. The remaining 10% is supplemented by proceeds from the performances. 

Given the halt in performances over the past six months, the theater applied to the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and received the needed supplemental funding. 

Harutyunyan notes that the theater has been quite self-sufficient financially of late. For example, in 2019, theater management used budgetary reserves to do some needed repairs on the building.

6.JPG (386 KB)

The theater can seat 610. Harutyunyan says they can sell 100-200 tickets for every performance and have suggested such a limited audience to the ministry to allow for in-theater shows.

Harutyunyan promises that the 155th season of the theater will be full of surprises for the audience.

 Gyumri residents will have the opportunity to see a performance of Ascension, a joint project of the beloved actor Vardan Petrosyan and the Ajemians.

Top photo from the performance Nothing Will be Left

Comments (1)

Taline Voskeritchian
Congratulations to the Gyumri Dramatic Theater on its new season! The choice of Valejo and Petrosyan is commendable, and a promissory step perhaps to a more modern/contemporary repertoire from Armenian and world theater.

Write a comment

If you found a typo you can notify us by selecting the text area and pressing CTRL+Enter