On Friday 5 September, 2014 I went to watch my niece and nephew perform in a school musical. The musical was about the Legend of Hayk and Bel; the legend of the birth of the Armenian Nation. The story has been the subject of some discussions I have had recently and was of great interest to me.
However, the performance lacked all historical, or even legendary credibility. From start to the end, it was based so loosely on the legend itself that it was not possible to say what the real story behind it was; that is if you didn’t know the real story and its variants. The credibility issue aside, it was one of the best times I had at play for a long time. I laughed so much that tears were flowing.
The play brought the legend of Hayk into the modern life of the students who were performing. It had aspects of life in Sydney mingled with the legend itself. the play was broken into small sections with song and dance between them. One of the songs actually reflected the way the play was done. It was a mixture of old Armenian folk songs, mainly Gomidas’ Horovel, and Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. The arrangement of this song is by a group from Armenia prepared for a New Years Eve party in Armenia. Other than that one song, the rest were traditional songs, sung in traditional ways.
The performance of King Belus, played by xxx yyy, was exceptional. Although Hayk, played by aaa bbb was the hero of the story, xxx was the hero of the play. At one point, he breaks out into singing and goes into the audience. I think the audience at that point was a little bit intimidating because he only interacted with the school teachers. Hayks father, the old man, played by aaa bbb portrayed an old man quite well. He showed the audience that even though he is old, he does not lack the wisdom and courage to standup to the oppressor. The only downside to his performance was that his physical ailment did not slow him down and he was as fast as the youngest in the group. Armeneak, played by ccc ddd, also had a song with some interaction with the audience. Although it was very good, King Belus was the ruler of the day.
All in all, it was an entertaining performance. Not a professional one, but who cares about that when you are given the chance to laugh constantly. My only criticism is the detachment of the language and the audience. English was used for the language of the play, even though the story and legend are Armenian. The people invited were the parents and families of the students and possible some other Armenian dignitaries. The could have invited people outside their immediate community to the play. I am certain many English speaking Australians would have enjoyed the entertaining play and they would have learned something about the Armenians.
So, to the producers of the play I would say, open your doors to others so they can learn who you are, and maybe you also can learn who you are from them. To the actors and singer, good job keep up the good work and hopefully we will see you in bigger productions. Finally, the person who was capable of rewriting the legend of Hayk in such a way that made you think whether it was happening today or right after the Tower of Babylon story could also do a good job in bringing that modernity into our song and dance.