Written and performed by Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian, directed by Kevork Mourad, and featuring music by Zulal, Tangled Yarn explores the untold story of Ismene, the woman in the shadows of the celebrated heroine Antigone. In this multi-media performance, the real-time painting of artist Mourad and the haunting vocals of Zulal propel the story toward its ultimate unraveling.
The idea of pre-determined destiny is inherent to culture. Even beyond the strict expectations set out for an Armenian woman's life by the traditions of an ancient culture, an innate fatalism—only partly inspired by religion—peppers the language with inshallah's, "God willing!" You live with the knowledge that your thread has been spun already and you hope that fate will make allowances for your desires. This idea of destiny led writer Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian to explore the story of a heroine seemingly devoid of one, for Ismene's story was never completed by the Greek dramatists in the Antigone plays. Spurned by the Fates, Ismene knows no future. Her mother dies, her sister kills herself, and Ismene must untangle the stories of her grandmothers, one Armenian, one Latvian, in order to discover her destiny.
Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian (actress, playwright) has performed at the La MaMa, HERE, and as part of the Invisible City Theater Company and Theatre in the Flesh. Her multi-media play, Tangled Yarn, premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2010. Along with singers Teni Apelian and Yeraz Markarian, she founded Zulal, an Armenian a cappella folk trio, which has been featured on WNYC's New Sounds (New York's NPR station), and has toured the United States and Canada, performing in such venues as Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, Symphony Space, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, along with performances for Cirque du Soleil and The Silk Road Project. A native San Franciscan, she attended the Lycée Français La Pérouse from kindergarten through the baccalaureate before earning a degree in theatre from Yale University. She now resides in New York. (www.zulal.org )
Kevork Mourad (artist, director) is an acclaimed Armenian artist from Syria who has exhibited in the United States, Damascus, and Dubai. His technique of spontaneous painting is a collaboration in which art and performance develop in counterpoint to each other. Mourad's visual creations are projected behind the artists after a timeline is created for the story to be told. This timeline sets the points at which spontaneous painting will be created in line with the story, and those at which pre-recorded animation will come into play—a frame-by-frame creation. As an artist-performer, he is an active member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, with which he has performed, among others, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Nara Museum in Japan, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the American Museum of Natural History. (http://vimeo.com/kevork )
To read an interview with the artists by the artistic director of Alwan for the Arts:
"I've seen a lot of shows that have attempted to use a projector screen or TV display in telling a story and most have failed. Tangled Yarn, which is playing at the 4th Street Theater in this year's FringeNYC, manages to do an excellent job integrating video with a generational story of mothers and daughters. […] The music complements the show wonderfully and Tekerian delivers an excellent performance, switching effectively between her three roles, but the show is stolen by the fantastic artwork by Mourad. I couldn't help but be fascinated with the speed he has as he crafts complicated imagery."
Case Aiken, nytheatre.com
"Tekerian imagines a reality in which she is simultaneously Ismene (Antigone's sister) and the modern-day granddaughter of [Armenian and Latvian] refugees; meanwhile, director Kevork Mourad draws vibrant illustrations that are projected behind her. Most stunningly of all, the piece is underscored by the haunting vocals of the Armenian a cappella trio Zulal. The strength of the piece is in the twining of these three creative threads."
Joseph Samuel Wright, Time Out New York
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