The American-penned play, set in Milwaukee, has been a hit in theatres around the country and internationally since its early production at the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville.
The New York premiere opens during a week that commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks of the Ottoman Empire.
According to a program note in the Playbill, "On April 24, 1915, under the cover of World War I, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic genocide of its Armenian citizens, an unarmed Christian minority population. More than a million Armenians were exterminated through direct killings, starvation, torture and forced death marches. Another million fled to permanent exile. Thus an ancient civilization was expunged from its homeland of 2,500 years."
Tony Award nominees Louis Zorich and Omar Metwally star. Larry Moss (The Syringa Tree) directs the new production. Metwally (Sixteen Wounded) plays a young Armenian named Aram, who comes to Milwaukee for a better life; Lena Georgas plays his wife; Zorich (45 Minutes From Broadway, She Loves Me) is a Gentleman, a character important in the couple's life; and Matthew Borish is a young boy they take in.
The play is set between 1921-33. Audiences and critics have noted that despite the dark-sounding title, the play is filled with humor and hope as Aram and Seta settle into a life beyond the darkness of the past. Producers were aiming the play for either Off-Broadway or Broadway in the last year, but announced Feb. 23 that its nest would be Off-Broadway's Century Center for the Performing Arts, off Union Square. David Grillo and Matthew Salinger produce.
Designers are Neil Patel (scenic), Anita Yavich (costume) and David Lander (lighting).
Over the last 12 years, Beast on the Moon has been seen around the world with productions in 17 different countries, translated into 12 different languages, having received more than 40 significant awards.
According to production notes, Kalinoski's interest in the subject was spurred by his seven-year marriage to an Armenian woman. "This play tells a story that the Turkish government has spent the last 90 years trying to erase from the world's consciousness," Kalinoski said in press notes. "But this is a story that the world needs to know. The story is universal. Healing is universal. The denial has got to stop so that healing can begin."
The playwright's most recent work, A Crooked Man, was seen at Future Fest in Dayton, OH, in July 2004. Kalinoski teaches playwriting and theatre at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Century Center for the Performing Arts is at 111 E. 15th Street, off Union Square. Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 7:30 PM with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 3 PM.
Tickets are $65. For ticket information, contact Telecharge.com, (212) 239-6200.
Visit the official website at www.beastonthemoon.com.
Turkish officials have been criticized for many years for not admitting responsibility for the crimes, and for downplaying the number of dead Armenians (thought to be as high as 1.5 million).
In the April 23 New York Times, Tuluy Tanc, minister counselor for the Turkish Embassy in Washington, said calling the deaths a part of genocide was "unfair and untrue" — a manipulation to gain reparations.
"We don't see what happened as genocide, quote-unquote," Tanc told the Times. "Unfortunate and tragic events took place during World War I and bad things happened to Armenians, and Muslims and Turks also…the number killed is much less than they say — it's more like 300,000 Armenians who lost their lives." He reportedly said that Turkish leaders recently asked Armenia to set up a commission to study the killings.