Herand Markarian’s ‘Silence’ Speaks Loud and Clear about Genocide

Lorraine Serabian Excels in Powerful Off-Broadway Drama

By George Maksian

Over the past several decades, Herand Markarian has had such a wide and varied career as an actor, playwright, director, and poet. You name it, he has done it.

I urge everyone to make every effort to see it. Hopefully, there will be a road tour after its New York run on May 24.

It would be hard for me to select just one of his many works as my personal all-time favorite experience.

That is, until Fri., May 4, when I attended the opening night performance of his latest play, “Silence,” which is being presented at the Off-Broadway Shell Theater on West 43rd Street in Manhattan, as a Libra-6 production through the end of May.

The play, commissioned by the New York State Theater Institute, is a powerful, well-produced and executed drama worthy of huge accolades and honors. It blew me away for its professionalism and expert performances by an outstanding cast of characters. The story itself is riveting.

It is set in the ancestral Armenian city of Van in Turkey before, during, and after the Armenian Genocide in 1915, which resulted in the annihilation of more than 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.

Most of the action of the play takes place in the luxurious home of an Armenian family in that city (designed by Kyle Dixon). The home is eventually confiscated by the Turks.

The play tells the heart-wrenching story of a relentless Armenian American woman’s search for her long-lost son who was caught up in the genocide.

The tour-de-force role of the mother is played by the Tony-nominated actress-singer Lorraine Serabian (“Zorba,” “Maria Callas in Master Class,” and so many other Broadway shows).

Serabian plays the role with such skill and perfection, I can’t imagine any other actress filling the role as well as she does. Brava.

Her Armenian husband in the play, portrayed by David Farrington, is a doctor accused of treason and executed in Van on April 24, 1915, the start of the Turkish massacres.

Her son, portrayed by Andrew Raia, along with 250 Armenian children, are slated to be burned inside a building, but a Turkish doctor-friend of the Armenian doctor saves some of the children, including possibly the missing boy.

Being American by birth, the mother is able to escape the massacres and return to the States where she becomes an ophthalmologist. Several years later, she returns to her ancestral homeland in search of her son. She is helped in the search by the Turkish doctor, played ably by Todd Licea.

Ironically, the doctor’s father, played superbly by veteran stage actor Charles Karel (Met Opera, “Zorba,” “Hello, Dolly,” etc.), is seen as an evil Turkish Nazi-like Gestapo who hounds the Armenian family.

He plays the role so well that after the show, I approached him and shouted, “I hate you!” And he shouted back, “That’s what we villains like to hear.”

The two-hour-plus drama moves along very swiftly, thanks in large part to the excellent work by its director, Kevin Thompson. The background music by Josh Millican is hauntingly heard; the massacre scenes are extraordinarily seen behind a meshed screen curtain. Kudos to the costume designer, Christina Giannini, for wonderful wardrobe selections. The mother’s outfits fit the period perfectly. Other production credits go to Iris Checkenian, dramaturge; John Eckert, lighting design; Aime Minassian, make-up; John Cooper, production manager; and Rebecca Perlman, stage manager.

Congrats to one and all and especially to playwright Herand Markarian for a job so well done. I urge everyone to make every effort to see it. Hopefully, there will be a road tour after its New York run on May 24.

All proceeds from the play go to aid the schools of Border Villages in Armenia.

For ticket and other information, visit SmartTix.com or call (212) 868-4444.


George Maksian is a former TV columnist for the Daily News in New York.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.

1 Comment

  1. Loved the writing, the acting, the historical accuracy, the psychology.

    For those of us that are up to date with the facts, the only thing missing
    is the link to the ongoing policy of denial.

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