Richard Kalinoski's Armenian-American family drama, Beast on the Moon, will have its West Coast premiere Aug. 25 at the Fountain Theatre. The play had its world premiere at the 1995 Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actor's Theatre in Louisville and was nominated as Best Play (outside New York) by the American Theatre Critics Association. It has been widely produced around the USA and in Europe and Canada.
The title derives from the eclipse of the moon in Turkey in 1893. Throughout villages and towns, the terrified Turks began shooting at the "wild beast" covering the moon, while their Armenian neighbors watched in silence. Two years later the Turks, declaring a Holy War, aimed their guns at the Armenians. Thus began a holocaust of vast proportions.
Set in 1920's Milwaukee, Beast on the Moon centers on the struggles of a young Armenian immigrant and his mail-order bride, the only survivors of the Turkish genocide. Contrary to Aram's expectations, Seta is unable to conceive a child. When she brings home a 12-year-old orphaned boy, the question arises: can these three damaged souls manage to function as a family?
Kalinoski has written 20 produced plays. His decade-long marriage to an Armenian-American fueled his interest in Armenian history and culture. His most recent work, Between Men & Cattle, was produced earlier this year by Philadelphia's InterAct Theatre. He teaches English at the University of Wisconsin.
Director Edwin Gerard Hamamdjian, a Los Angeles native, is artistic director of the Compagnie La Stoa in Paris. His staging of Moliere's Misanthrope at the Court Theatre received six Drama-Logue awards. The multi-lingual director/actor will next collaborate with celebrated film director Alejandro Jodorowsky on Opera Panica, set to tour internationally.The cast for Beast on the Moon includes Anna Der Nersesian, Michael Gabriel Goodfriend, Buck Kartalian, Giancarlo Canale and Franck Beaulieu. (The latter two alternate as the young boy). The play is produced by the Fountain's co-artistic director, Deborah Lawlor.
Performances are through Sept. 24 at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave. For tickets and information call (323) 663-1525.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent