renovation of the 35 year old theater made
it unrecognizable to even those who know
Cultural life in Yerevan has been enriched with
the reopening of the Hrachya Ghaplanyan Dramatic
One of 34 cultural centers of Yerevan, Gyumri
and Vanadazor to benefit from the Lincy Foundation's
$17.5 million donation to the arts in Armenia,
the Ghaplanyan has a $630,000 new look.
From stage to washrooms, the renovation of the
35 year old theater made it almost unrecognizable
to even those who know it well.
"I'm not very romantic, but I want to say
that it is fantastic", says director and
art manager of the theater Armen Khandikyan.
Among improvements is a new boiler room for heating,
changing conditions well-known to Armenian performances
in which theaters become so cold in winter the
audience wear heavy coats and the actors can see
"When we opened the boxes with light and
sound equipment all of us were filled with astonishment
and admiration. It was a production of 2000. For
correct and proper exploitation of that equipment
we invited special experts so that they could
teach our workers how to use it," says Khandikyan
(before the theater was using equipment inherited
from the 1970s).
He assures that one can't find a place in the
theater that hasn't been reconstructed.
On September 25 President Robert Kocharyan, Yerevan
Mayor Yervand Zakharyan, executive director of
Lincy Foundation board of trustees Harut Sassunian,
representatives of different theaters and well-known
artists were among the first see the new hall.
The Ghaplanyan first opened in 1967 and was one
of a few cultural centers to keep functioning
during the dark and cold years of early independence
in 1992-93. During those times the theater presented
performances by candlelight, water froze in cups
in the makeup rooms, and staff provided household
goods for props and everyday dress as costumes.
Today, actors can enjoy comfortable rehearsal
rooms, dressing rooms with showers and other amenities
of 21st century stage performance.
"Even in our wildest dreams we couldn't
imagine such a beautiful building corresponding
to the European standards," says Honored
Actor Artur Utmazyan.
Some say the new theater will produce inspired
work, as actors think that they have no right
to perform poorly in such a place and in such
conditions they must turn every performance into
a memorable one.
"Renewed energy and new desire for living
and creating penetrate the heart of any mortal,
who gets an apartment repaired in a new fashion.
This is a home for us, where we have spent most
of our lives," says People's Actor Guzh Manukyan.
With the feeling of their own home's reconstruction
actors and director had been spending their time
in the theater during reconstruction works not
only watching but also assisting construction
Actors from the theater gathered before dignitaries
inspecting the theater last weekend and presented
a letter for philanthropist American benefactor
Kirk Kirkorian, expressing hope that the theater
can thank him one day with a performance of gratitude.
The theater will open to the public later this
month with 15 performances (Pertch Zeituntsyan's
"Jesus from Nazareth and his 12 Disciples",
Paronyan's "Honorable Beggars", works
of classical and modern European authors), which
have also been renewed. "Not only stage direction
and acting part but decors and dresses as well
and everything must be presented to our dear Yerevan
citizens in a fresh view," says Khandikyan.
He also promises that he will make a surprise
for his audience by adding five completely new
performances to the renewed old plays.