Vahram Papazian Theater Group

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Latest Production by AGBU Sydney's Vahram Papazian Theater Group

AGBU Press Office 55 East 59th Street New York, NY 10022-1112 Phone: 212.319.6383, x118 Website: www.agbu.org

PRESS RELEASE

Friday, October 19, 2012

Latest Production by the AGBU Sydney Chapter's Vahram Papazian Theater Group Makes a Successful Canadian Debut

$3,000 in Ticket Proceeds and Donations Raised in Toronto for AGBU Syria Emergency Relief Fund

A healthy dose of comedy and drama is the key to any successful stage performance, and a recent production by the AGBU Sydney Chapter's Vahram Papazian Theater Group gave audiences across Canada that and even more: the knowledge that they were supporting fellow diasporans in Syria.

Last month, AGBU's Sydney troupe brought their widely-acclaimed hit `Inknagotch Yerajishte' (`The Self-Proclaimed Musician') abroad for the first time. On Saturday, September 8 and Friday, September 14, 2012, the all-star cast, led by writer and director Noubar Gharibian, attracted almost 500 audience members to the Emile Legault Hall of Saint-Laurent College in Montreal and the AGBU Alex Manoogian Cultural Center in Toronto. At each theater, the play, a satire that tells a story of greed, betrayal and humanity, drew rousing laughter and applause.

The Toronto performance alone raised $3,000 in ticket sales and donations from the Chapter and its members. Every penny of those proceeds will support AGBU's humanitarian aid initiatives in Armenian communities across Syria. Since AGBU launched a Syria relief fundraising campaign in August, the outflow of support has been enormous, and continues to meet the needs of thousands of families bearing the brunt of the country's unfolding crisis. AGBU volunteers on the ground in Aleppo, Damascus and throughout the nation will be able to continue distributing food and necessary provisions, owing to the additional funds collected by the AGBU Toronto Chapter.

Plans to take `Inknagotch Yerajishte' to an international venue were in the works for over a year, but the AGBU Sydney Vahram Papazian Theater Company has been stealing the spotlight for far longer. When the performers came together in 2001, they brought with them diverse backgrounds as trained musicians, poets, production managers, singers and writers. Together, they formed a single creative force that quickly caused a stir in the Sydney arts community and overseas. Their repertoire includes `Shevaradz Pesatsoun,' which was a great success in Egypt, where the AGBU Cairo Chapter invited them to perform in 2010.

`Inknagotch Yerajishte' is one of many original works that the group puts out almost annually. Their productions are well-received, Gharibian attests, because of the actors' hard work and dedication. As he comments, `Our talented cast always turns the stage into a mirror, revealing our greatest flaws and strengths as humans. We aim to produce comedies that not only make the audiences laugh but, by including somber themes, also prompt them to think and reflect. This play is about people who, in pursuit of their own personal goals, disregard the feelings of others, facing moral choices and significant consequences. Whenever the audience laughed, we knew they were amused and at the same time understood the message.'

After the curtains came down in both cities, the audiences' standing ovations made it clear that they had, in fact, understood - and enjoyed - the message. In Montreal, where the event was organized jointly with the Tekeyan Cultural Association, the local paper, Abaka, published a glowing review of `Inknagotch Yerajishte.' In Toronto, each artist received individual plaques praising their performances.

Yet, for the cast, crew and audience, the greatest reward was the opportunity to contribute to the relief efforts in Syria. Anyone can still donate 24/7 online by visiting: http://agbu.org/syriarelief/index.html or calling +1-855-AID-AGBU (243-2428) weekdays from 9am - 5pm EST.

The AGBU Sydney Chapter's Vahram Papazian Theater Group is already gearing up for another international tour, scheduled to begin in May 2014, with stops in Canada, South America, and the United States. Stay tuned for information on a show near you.