LOS ANGELES—Never-before-staged scenes from William Saroyan’s unpublished plays will be performed in a world premiere production at the Los Angeles Central Library’s Taper Auditorium on September 15. “William Saroyan: The Unpublished Plays in Performance,” created by award-winning playwright and director Aram Kouyoumdjian, will be staged by Vista Players, “a boundlessly talented” ensemble that “set the standard by which others were judged” (Sacramento News & Review).
Kouyoumdjian was granted special permission by Stanford University, where Saroyan’s unpublished manuscripts are housed, to stage the excerpts. Selections from such works as “The Armenian Play (or Opera),” “Home to Hayastan,” and “Ouzenk Chouzenk Hai Yenk” (Like It or Not, We’re Armenians) will explore a wide array of themes, including immigrant life, the trauma of genocide, and the notion of repatriation.
The performance at the Central Library is being presented as part of the Library’s “L.A. Made” series and is co-sponsored by Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian. Councilmember Krekorian will make a special presentation to the L.A. City Council on August 31 about Saroyan, as well as the commemorative Library event, which he is scheduled to attend.
August 31 marks the occasion of William Saroyan’s 110th birthday: the impetus to present the renowned playwright’s unknown works at venerated venues in Southern and Central California. The production is slated for additional performances in Fresno and in Orange County, as well as an encore performance in L.A.
Admission to the L.A. Central Library event is free, but seating is limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6:30 pm, and the performance will begin at 7 p.m.
Saroyan is the pre-eminent Armenian-American author who rose to prominence in the 1930s and went on to have a prolific career for five decades. A writer of short stories, novels, plays, and memoirs, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his most famous dramatic work, “The Time of Your Life,” and an Academy Award for his screenplay of “The Human Comedy.”
Kouyoumdjian, who wrote his Master’s thesis on Saroyan’s unpublished plays, is the winner of Elly Awards for both playwriting (The Farewells) and directing (Three Hotels). His feature plays and solo pieces have been performed in half a dozen cities, from Los Angeles (Fountain Theatre) to London (Finborough Theatre). His most recent work has included an adaptation of Levon Shant’s Ancient Gods (2014); Happy Armenians (Los Angeles, 2015; Sacramento, 2016); and i Go On, an open-air, site-specific performance piece in conjunction with the iWitness installation of Genocide survivor portraits (DTLA’s Grand Park, 2015; Glendale Central Park, 2017).