Nora Armani to perform Mercedes and Zaruhi in Boston

ARLINGTON, Mass.—Yearning for their homeland, lost to the Soviet takeover of the Republic of Armenia on November 29, 1920, drove close to a hundred thousand Armenians scattered throughout the world, mainly from the Middle East and Europe, to respond to the call of Soviet Armenian authorities in 1946 to repatriate to their ancestral homeland. This historic scheme launched about 80 years ago (1946-1949), known as the Mets Hayrenadardzut’iun (Great Repatriation) or simply nergaght’ (in-migration), proved to be a major disappointment and disillusionment, resulting in demoralized masses, broken families, devastation, exile and loss of innocent lives.

Nora Armani (Photo: Xiaupeng Zhan)

On Sunday, April 28  at 4:00 p.m., the Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF) will present Mercedes and Zaruhi, a solo play by Nora Armani, based on a story written by playwright Anush Aslibekyan.  Mercedes and Zaruhi, based on true events, is the story of two Armenian sisters from Greece, separated by individual decisions that shaped their destinies: Mercedes’ to stay in Greece and Zaruhi’s to repatriate to her beloved Armenia. 

Mercedes and Zaruhi explores the theme of repatriation to Soviet Armenia from the late 1940s to the early 1990s through a series of letters exchanged between two sisters. Mercedes’ letters are shared through voiceover in Armenian, although she never appears on stage. The play highlights the social, political and cultural distance and differences separating the two siblings, as well as heartbreak and disillusionment, which proved not to be unique to Zaruhi but also tens of thousands of repatriates. 

Aslibekyan first created the story in 2012, before turning it into a full play and subsequently a monologue. Originally, a full multi-actor play was presented in Armenia by Armani, in the Armenian original. Subsequently, the English language translation was provided by Armani. “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring the work of Anush Aslibekyan to an English-speaking audience,” Armani stated. “My work entailed translating the solo play and adapting it by adding some material, to make it clearer to a non-initiated, non-Armenian audience.” Armani also recorded her own voice in Western Armenian for the voiceover.

Reflecting on the play, Marvin Carlson, Distinguished Professor of Theatre and Performance at the City University of New York, praised Armani’s performance and the monodrama: “[Nora Armani] tells a great story – suspenseful, warm, human and funny, with great characters, and [her] depiction of the slowly aging protagonist was deeply moving, especially the final scene. A memorable evening in the theater.” 

This play is currently on the syllabus for Modern Armenian Literature for 10th graders in Armenia and serves as an important educational resource of post-Genocide Armenian history. The production features music composed by singer-songwriter Vahan Arzruni. 

Renowned performer and director Nora Armani is an award-winning actor and filmmaker with extensive international stage and screen credits. Recently, she filmed Absolute Dominion, a feature film by Lexi Alexander, for Netflix. She has appeared Off-Broadway in Six Characters in Search of an Author by Priandello, Terrorism by Presnyakov Brothers, Measure for Measure by Shakespeare (in Cairo), La Fête Virile (in Paris) and Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising (in London). Her TV and film credits include, “Blacklist, Redemption,” “Golden Boy,” “Casualty” (BBC), “The Friends” (EG TV) and the films La Nouvelle Eve, Voisin Voisine, Last Station, Labyrinth, Good Funk, I am Gitmo, Hungry and Moving Stories. For her full bio and filmography, visit or Armani was recently awarded the Cinema Achievement Award at the 38th Alexandria Film Festival, Egypt. Armani’s most recent feature film roles include The Last Wish (2023-completed) and Jukebox (2024-in post-production), two Finnish-Spanish co-productions filmed in Spain and directed by Rax Rinnekangas. 

Anush Aslibekyan

An Armenian playwright and dramatist born in Armenia, Anush Aslibekyan has been a member of the Association of Armenian Writers since 2012. She is the author of five books. Many of her works have been translated into different languages, including Polish, German, Greek and Russian. Aslibekyan served as the founder and senior editor at Arvest Art Magazine (2000-2005), head of the literature department at Hamazkayin State Theatre (2008-2009) and TV anchor, reporter and commentator at Ararat TV of Public Television Company of Armenia (2008–2010). Since 2006, she has been a researcher at the Art Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and teaches theater history, literature and dramaturgy. Her award-winning plays have been performed in Armenia and internationally in over 20 festivals. As a professor and arts candidate, Aslibekyan authored and runs the Two in Search of an Author program on Noah’s Ark channel, dedicated to contemporary literature and art.

On Sunday, April 28 at 4:00 p.m., the Boston community in general and the Armenian community in particular will have the opportunity to enjoy Mercedes and Zaruhi. The event is open to the public and is sponsored by the AIWA, AWWA and TCA. Tickets ($15) will be available for purchase at the door or by contacting the ACF (781-646-3090) during office hours (10 a.m.–2 p.m.) or by email at Seating is limited, and a reception will follow immediately after the play.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

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

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