“Who, after all, speaks today of the extermination of the Armenians?”
– Adolf Hitler
Exclusively written and directed by Anoush Baghdassarian ’17, the play FOUND: a Women’s Experience Through the Armenian Genocide, will be showing at the Athenaeum on Thursday, April 24 and Pomona’s Allen theatre on Friday April 25. Both showings will begin at 8 pm.
“When people ask me about my nationality, I answer ‘Armenian, plus Uruguayan, Egyptian and Greek’” Baghdassarian said. For her, the 1915 Armenian Genocide resulted in an unsettled family background. After escaping from their homeland, Baghdassarian’s relatives travelled around as one of countless refugee families who were forced to flee from Armenia.
Multiple factors inspired Baghdassarian to write the play. “I heard a lot of stories from my family,” she said.
For example, Baghdassarian’s grandmother, who became the first Uruguayan invited to be part of the committee to elect the Archbishop, helped translate documents about the genocide. Baghdassarian’s great uncle starts crying every time he tries to tell her the story.
Baghdassarian first did a presentation on the Armenian Genocide in sixth grade and continued doing something similar throughout the next few years. She has always loved acting, but during her senior year in high school, Baghdassarian decided to do something different. “I went to an annual theatre festival in New York and had always taken acting classes,” Baghdassarian said, “but that year I signed up for a playwriting class.”
What started as an assigned monologue for the class then turned into a full-length play. The story follows a young girl named Lucine, who watches her family being killed from a frozen state inside her bedroom.
After putting on FOUND last year in her hometown library and her church, Baghdassarian decided to bring the play to the Claremont community. “It is the 99th Anniversary this year, and this is something that I can do to raise the awareness about the ‘Forgotten Genocide’,” Baghdassarian said.
Despite 1.5 million Armenians being massacred, the Armenian Genocide is still not widely recognized on the international scale. Baghdassarian hopes to bring awareness and understanding. “The reason that we learn history is to prevent it from repeating itself,” she said.
Students, faculty members, and staff from all colleges contributed immensely to the play. The FOUND cast, a total of 12 people, includes 3 young children and 9 students from CMC, Scripps and Pomona. Wendy Lower, a history professor at CMC, worked with Baghdassarian to put together a historical introduction that will help explain the Armenian Genocide. “Baghdassarian is a tireless advocate for the study and memorialization of the genocide of the Armenians during the First World War”, Lower wrote in an email to the Forum, “I have enjoyed working with her both inside and outside of classroom.”
Lower noted that FOUND is a “thoughtful, informed and powerful representation of the genocide as told through the memories and flashbacks of a survivor.”
Overall, Baghdassarian expressed gratitude towards everyone who put effort in the show. “The cast has been working tirelessly for the show, even though there were only four weeks of rehearsal, everyone worked so hard and their level of dedication was amazing. Professor Lower and the Center for Human Rights Leadership are especially encouraging and helpful.”
FOUND is considered by faculties and students alike to be an important step at CMC to combine art and social work. In honor of the 99th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Baghdassarian’s hopes to raise awareness on past crimes to prevent them from being committed again.
FOUND will be presented at the Athenaeum on Thursday, April 24th 2014, with a reception at 5:30 PM, dinner at 6:00 PM and the show at 6:45 PM. More introductions about the play or reservation can be found here.