Yerevan Chamber Theatre
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Address: 58 Mashtots Ave, Yerevan
Working days: Tuesday-Sunday
Working hours: 10:00-18:00
The word "Chamber", written on the posters and billboards is meant to emphasize the theatres atmosphere of simplicity, as if everything is happening in a single chamber (as a rule, there are only a few actors in a performance) and, at the same time, the theater is not bound by any specific direction. Tragedy, drama, comedy, musical performance: all forms of theater are accepted.
As for the symbol, the double face represents the actor and the audience joined with the mathematical sign for equality, which it is a tribute to the Identification System, which, as already shown, has become the basis of the Yerevan State Chamber Theater.
Although the "Men's Club" was well known and loved, Yernjakyan was well aware that even the most famous club could not accomplish what had been planned, which was creating a theatre, where they could have a permanent place for the performances and rehearsals. That is when he began to search for a building which will become the future theater. In 1977 he managed to get a hold of a small area in the corner of a building at 58 Mashtots avenue. Later on, the theater grew considerably and the formation has changed several times, which were dictated by the creative demands and problems. All of the works were done by the creative staff of the theater, in accordance with the project based on A. Yernjakyans sketches and his direct participation. Also simultaneously attempts were made in order to create a permanent troupe. For that the "Likayan" program was initiated. During the four years of the construction, former cybernetics, doctors and writers were mastering the art of basic acting along with their main education. Yernjakyan also entered the third course of the Institute of Fine Arts (Lead by R. Jrbashyan) and successfully graduated it in 1982. The actors’ training program was developed by Yernjakyan, according to which the main disciplines were plasticity, scenic speech and other skills necessary for actors, apart from that also they studied history of World Theater. Special attention was paid to the natural contact with the audience. For that reason dozens of different methods systems and exercises were studied. Thus, already in 1980 a company had been formed, which was prepared to deal with the most difficult creative problems.
At that time the educational process was combined with the construction so in the afternoon they were bricklayers and carpenters, and in the evening, they were performing as the servants of Melpomene. Also it should be noted that at this point of time the group had tours through the Soviet Union, as well as the programme "Youth addresses" on Central TV where the show honored the young group. In the Fall of 1981 the staff of the theatre received the title "State".
And, finally on the 15 of December 1982, overcoming the unimaginable resistance of the bureaucratic apparatus (the appointment of an outside surveyor and a number of prohibited performances etc.), the Yerevan State Chamber Theatre opened the doors for the public. It was already a beautiful theatre with an unusual design which attracted the audience with a professional troupe, which was able to face any creative challenge, a repertoire consisting of five performances, and most importantly, a peculiar principle, which allowed the Chamber Theatre to occupy its own place in the theatrical diversity of Armenia. Moreover, the theater had its own audience, which remain loyal to it since the very first years, that is why it is no accident that starting from the very first performances the theatre had full halls (in fact, the problem of ticket overbooking at the Yerevan State Chamber Theatre is very common nowadays). Every premiere became a big event in the cultural life of Yerevan. They were anticipated and even demanded.
Naturally, the Chamber Theatre (and its director) also had people who were not so kind, they put their efforts and resources to negatively interfere with the staff (public theaters in the lowest subsidy, lack of customized presentations, complete lack of state support for repairs and reconstruction and technical equipment, etc.). Not only the leading actors, but also the creator, director and the founder of the theater, were periodically deleted from all the award lists. Performances such as "Hamlet" and "Nazar Nazar" were prohibited to be played. (the latter was fortunately saved due to an article by Agisheva published in the "Pravda" newspaper).
In May 1984 (only half a year after the opening) in Moscow in the great hall of the Theater named after Yablochkina and in the Palace of Youth took place the creative report of the Yerevan State Chamber Theatre with the performance "Paronayk ..." ("Gentlemen…")which had a wide response. Invitations were received from Hungary, Tallinn and Leningrad.
In 1985 Chamber Theatre's youth along with the youth from other six theaters took part in the 12th Youth and Student World Festival in Moscow with the performance "Paronayk ..." ("Gentlemen…") and were awarded the title of "Laureate".
The second half of the 80s was very successful for the theater, that is to say there were many new performances and tours to Riga, Leningrad, and Kiev. The theater took part in various festivals in Yerevan, Moscow and Tbilisi. One of the TV programs called “Vzglyad” was dedicated to the Chamber Theatre. The work and the activities of the theater covered within the programs such as "Vremya" as well as in the Republican, Union and foreign press. Yernjakyan became a member of the Audit Committee of the USSR TGM. Throughout this period the theatre has also met many problems: alongside with creating and working the director of the theater as well as the entire staff were forced to expend time and energy to the simplest problems of the theater. However, no obstacle could prevent Yernjakyan and his team; they always moved forward overcoming new problems, and never doing back, never stopping to admire the work done. It is interesting that during these years neither the theater, nor the director celebrated any anniversary, considering it unnecessary extravagance and a waste of time ...
In 1988 A. Yernjakyan wrote and staged "Hayk", which took its place in the theater's repertoire, it represents the tragedy of the little people, the desire to obtain freedom, self-regulated practice and to fight the Soviet imperial system, against occupational forces, patrol hours, ordinary human pain and debasement of current reality. Naturally, the Performance was immediately banned. Nevertheless, it was played every night on the stage and Ara Yernjakyan came out to warn the audience that they are just witnessing a rehearsal (it was also made to look like the actors were having a rehearsal). The audience was laughing and crying simultaneously. It is not difficult to predict what consequences could follow, if not for the events of the USSR and in the country which had a different scenario. In 1989 "Hayk" was performed almost every day. The tickets were bought according to specific lists and within one hour prior to the performance. Later the leaders of the country confessed that "Hayk" played a major role in the national movement for independence.
In 1989 the New American Cultural Association invited the Chamber Theatre to San Francisco, then to Los Angeles, and before that the theater had become the winner of the "Teatre du Monde" International Festival, Nantes (France). Then followed the tours to the Middle East and back to the United States (1991) ;
However, the main achievement for A. Yernjakyan was the expansion of the theater at the expense of tax-exempt residential second floor, which allowed to solve new creative problems, and again, according to the established traditions, the reconstruction was executed by the actors and the director according to their artistic design. The new area included a gallery, cinema hall, administrative offices and makeup-rooms.
Since the 90s the Chamber Theater began to perform in Armenian, and to preserve the traditional theatrical form, corresponding performances were necessary. It meant that the author had to create another repertoire, which Yernjakyan brilliantly realized. The striking feature was that his performances were the mirror of the time period of a whole generation. Since the 80's the city, the events in this world or in the country were reflected in the repertoire of the theater. The author with the help of his characters made comments to these events sometimes with good humor, sometimes with sarcasm by making the abstract things noticeable and recognizable. Previously, many people said that the theater was addressing only daily issues which will later be rejected by time itself. Yernjakyan's performances have not lost their actuality even many years later. The plays which were written decades ago, are still interesting for the audience, which is proven by the full halls.
Ara Yernjakyann calls his plays Pessimistic Comedies. The plays which are happy at first sight gradually begin to unveil pain and concern so at the end the audience bursts out its complaint against any kind of injustice. These plays do not make people despair, on the contrary, they are full of actual and lively principles; such plays include "Nazar", " Titanic, made in Armenia", "The Infernal Comedy ", and "I Zen". In search of new forms A. Yernjakyan created a rather unusual comedy "The Saw of Death". which is the story of the ill-fated tour of David Copperfield in Armenia. It is an incredibly ridiculous story about the great Wizard’s assistant, based on his well known wonder-tricks. Moreover, the tricks are completely real, and force the audience to wonder and admire.
Today, every evening there is an interesting dialogue called “fathers and sons” in the full halls of the Chamber Theatre which reveals the new possibilities of the theater. Here the mystery and the miracle are not only on the stage, but also throughout the theater, where the audience gets the sense of residence from the very first step into the theater. They have the feeling of impatience and anticipation of participating in the performance. It is noted that the seemingly greedy stage and the musical foundation and formation are an integral part of the performances in which the audience is immersed, and from where he takes a special stimulus, which helps to live, to work, to feel and to think.