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Gagik Aghbalyan

Yerevan’s Hamazgayin State Theatre to Get New Home; It’s Just Not Where Sos Sargsyan Dreamt Of

Armenia’s government today gave the green light for the construction of a new building in Yerevan that will house the Hamazgayin State Theatre, named in honor of the celebrated actor Sos Sargsyan, who established it in 1991.

GM Developer LLC, the company that presented the investment project, will build the new theatre at a 1, 278 square meter site in downtown Yerevan, near the intersection of Amiryan and Henri Verneuil Streets.

Since its establishment, the theatre has been housed in the Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography (YSITC) located at the intersection.

An annex of the Institute will be demolished to make way for the new theater.

The new theatre will occupy 955 square meters, and a multi-residential building will be constructed on the remainder.  

For years, Sos Sargsyan, who passed away in 2013, and the theatre ensemble, had dreamt of having their own performance space.

Originally, the government allocated land on Central Boulevard, in the park leading to the famous “Children’s Train”.

The Sos Sargsyan Cultural Foundation then launched a fundraising drive to see the new theatre, designed by architect Levon Ghaloumyan, a reality.

Later, a company called Nor Yerevan (New Yerevan), part of the Tashir Group, was granted a construction permit.

The foundation raised $15,000․ That money was stolen in 2016 by outside individuals now on trial. The hope of building a new theatre vanished with the money.

The YSITC annex, that will be demolished to make way for the new theater, is currently used by the Institute and is also leased to the College of Finance and Banking, a private concern.

The YSITC’s archives and classrooms, including that of Rector Davit Mouratyan, are located on the first floor. YSITC Pro Rector Vahan Yeghiazaryan told Hetq that the space has been leased to the college until 2018.

Vahan Yeghiazaryan

Yeghiazaryan says that they are willing to see the annex demolished so that the Hamazgayin Theatre can be built on the site.

“It’s not a building designed to house a theater. It has no wardrobe rooms and other features. Anyway, in a few years it will be on the verge of collapsing and it will take a huge amount to have it reinforced,” Yeghiazaryan said.

Once Hamazgayin moves, the space it now occupies will be used for lectures.

The blue circle shows the site of the new residential building, and the red arrow shows the YSITC annex that will be demolished and replaced with the new Hamazgayin Theatre.

The staff and actors at Hamazgayin aren’t upset at the ways things have turned out.

Hamazgayin Theatre Artistic Director Vigen Chaldranyan says it’s the best possible solution at the moment.

“Sos Sargsyan worked tirelessly to get a separate building for the theater. The master’s wish, of course, hasn’t been realized in the sense that the financial resources weren’t there to get the project completed in the park. What the government has come up with, given the circumstances, is the best solution,” Chaldranyan said.

He says he worked with the architect on the design.  

“I can’t say if it will look like the Sundukyan or Baronian theaters, that have their own surrounding space and look beautiful from the street, but it will be fully furnished, Chaldranyan added.

He says the new building will be handed over to the Hamazgayin Theatre in December 2018.

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