The extraordinary theatrical performance titled “You Rejoice My Heart,” dedicated to the Armenian Genocide, premiered in New York. The play was adapted and directed by the veteran of Armenian Theater, renowned actress of Armenian Stage Film and Television and executive producer of Voice of Armenians TVNY Garine Kocharian.
The adaptation of the play was based on a novel “You Rejoice My Heart” by Turkish writer Kemal Yalcin. The novel tells the seldom discussed story of so-called secret or hidden Armenians, whose descendants still live in the provinces of Turkey and elsewhere today.
“You Rejoice My Heart” performance opens with Yalcin’s personal and emotional apology, saying “My dear Armenian friend, the greatest pain of humanity this century, the mark of black soot on the forehead of history, is the Armenian Genocide. I bow down to the memory of all the Armenians killed. I accept your pain as my pain. As a Turkish writer, I speak for myself and all of the world when I ask for your forgiveness. The shame of this great disaster is stamped on the forehead of humanity, and the planners, projectors and perpetrators will be cursed. When justice is finally implemented, when our great pain has subsided and when we finally ensure this injustice will never happen again, I give my heart to you and my soul will rejoice with you.”
The story then follows Yalcin (played by Arthur Garabedian) who through the guidance of his teacher Meline, who is of Armenian origin, embarks on a project to seek out Armenians living in Turkey as converted Muslims.
Making this extraordinary production event more special were participation of two stars of Armenian Theater and Television Arthur Garabedian and Satik Hakhnazarian both of whom traveled from Armenia specifically to take part in this play.
Kocharian’s masterful directed performance includes multimedia, films, sound tracks and slide show with authentic photography from the genocide era made available for the production as courtesy by the Armenian Genocide Museum in Yerevan.
Highly emotionally charged performances from each cast member added to the overall impact of the play.
Both creative and historical importance of this ambitious production cannot be stressed enough. It shines an important light upon a seldom spoken subject, the lives of generations of hidden Armenians in Turkey and elsewhere after the genocide. Armenians who have converted to Islam to save their lives and the terrible burden that came with the pressure of hiding their identity and Armenian heritage.
While the play opened with a Yalcin’s apology, its ending carried a deep symbolic and emotional meaning with Kemal’s Turkish mother, on her knees offering sacrificial bread to the people of her village as a gesture for asking forgiveness and mercy for the souls of all Armenians killed during the genocide.