‘From Sacred Wrath’ Performs to Full Houses in NY

“From Sacred Wrath,” a play about an Armenian-American family grappling with the legacy of 1915, performed two sold-out shows at the Davenport Theatre in New York City in April during Genocide Awareness Month.

The timely play, written and directed by Taleen Babayan, reflects the various outlooks and struggles facing Armenians around the world in this Centennial year of the Armenian Genocide.

Aghavni (played by Constance Cooper), an Armenian Genocide survivor, shares an emotional scene with Ayesha (played by Jamie Alana), a Sudanese Genocide survivor
Aghavni (played by Constance Cooper), an Armenian Genocide survivor, shares an emotional scene with Ayesha (played by Jamie Alana), a Sudanese Genocide survivor

The story was brought to life on stage through the cast of diverse and professional actors, which included Karnig Nercessian, playing the role of Hovsep, the patriotic patriarch of the family; Constance Cooper as Aghavni, an Armenian Genocide survivor; Ani Djirdjirian as Areni, a history teacher who has a modern outlook of reconciliation; Raffi Wartanian as Soghomon, an American-born Armenian who feels a desire to return to his homeland; Nora Armani as Nina, daughter of Aghavni, who has a pragmatic outlook on the Armenian Genocide; Cihangir Duman as Cemal, a Turkish journalist who is unable to call the Armenian massacres a genocide; Jamie Alana as Ayesha, a Darfur Genocide survivor; and Haig Hovnanian as Alex, a childhood friend of the family’s.

“Sharing the stage with so many gifted performers was beyond rewarding, as was working on a script that allowed us to question the identity paradigms that have come to define modern Armenian life,” said Wartanian, who is a performer, writer, and musician.

Babayan received three grants to stage the production, including awards from the Dadourian Foundation, the Mabel Fenner Scholarshipm and the Armenian Youth Foundation.

A crowd gathers outside the Davenport Theatre pre-show
A crowd gathers outside the Davenport Theatre pre-show

“From Sacred Wrath” has started a cross-cultural dialogue that has the potential to be the starting point for great change in society,” said Alana, a graduate of the Actors Studio Drama School. “There are no villains in this play, only people. People have the power to create unity even when nations, cultures, and ethnic groups cannot. With this play we were able to create unity on stage and unity in the audience.”

The two performances appealed to audiences beyond the Armenian community, and drew people of diverse age groups and backgrounds.

“It was an amazing feat to manage to combine and present the ever-prevalent diasporan issues in such a moving and visceral way all in one package,” said audience member Karén Tonoyan. “I hope this play gets staged many more times because it deserves to be seen by many more audiences.”

Aghavni (played by Constance Cooper) shares her story of survival after a century with daughter Nina (played by Nora Armani), Sudanese Genocide survivor Ayesha (played by Jamie Alana), and granddaughter Areni (played by Ani Djirdjirian)
Aghavni (played by Constance Cooper) shares her story of survival after a century with daughter Nina (played by Nora Armani), Sudanese Genocide survivor Ayesha (played by Jamie Alana), and granddaughter Areni (played by Ani Djirdjirian)

“From Sacred Wrath” is Babayan’s second play. Her debut work, “Where is Your Groom?” (Pesad Oor Eh)—a comedic story that follows an Armenian-American family’s desire to preserve their ties while living in the diaspora—has performed for seven Armenian communities across the country. Upcoming performances are scheduled in New York and Florida.

“Taleen Babayan’s insightful writing has captured a ‘slice of life’ from the Armenian Diaspora reality with its players, points of view, and issues all rolled very successfully into one entertaining and informative stage production,” said Armani, actress and artistic founder of the SR Socially Relevant Film Festival. “Taleen not only has a deep understanding of Armenian issues, but knows how to contextualize them within a larger universal paradigm. I feel honored to have been part of this production and shared the stage with a talented cast.”

History teacher Areni (played by Ani Djirdjirian) debates the events of the Armenian Genocide with journalist Cemal (played by Cihangir Duman), who denies it ever took place
History teacher Areni (played by Ani Djirdjirian) debates the events of the Armenian Genocide with journalist Cemal (played by Cihangir Duman), who denies it ever took place
Journalist Alex (played by Haig Hovnanian) shares a scene with his friend Soghomon (played by Raffi Wartanian)
Journalist Alex (played by Haig Hovnanian) shares a scene with his friend Soghomon (played by Raffi Wartanian)
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Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.

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