Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, April 14

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Cloud Atlas, The Sessions, Chasing Mavericks, Fun Size & Keep the Lights On Art Around Town »

Theater Fri Oct 26 2012

Review: Silk Road Rising's Night Over Erzinga

Levi Holloway, Michael Salinas, Sandra Delgado and Rom Barkhordar.jpeg

Levi Holloway, Michael Salinas, Sandra Delgado and Rom Barkhordar

The lynchpin in the Great American Dream Press Kit is, and has always been, reinvention. "Give me your tired, poor, huddled masses", and I'll make your forget all those tyrannical inhumanities you and yours have suffered under from the ages.

Well, it's a nice hook, and a great selling point of yesteryear; today's (fewer and fewer) immigrants know that maybe you can go home again someday, and to read the fine print on the Statue of Liberty -- America's a great place to be, but the Land of Promise cannot wash away the atrocities of genocide.

The Oghidanian family of Erzinga, Armenia find themselves in the worst grace-under-pressure circumstances -- it's the middle of World War I, and the Turks are not only occupying their country, but killing off the Armenians in mass, happily obliterating them, kidnapping and forcing young Armenian men to fight on the Turkish side, killing off the older men, and the young children, and raping and torturing the young girls and women. The Oghidanian's son, Ardavazt, turns eighteen, ripe for familial celebration, but also the age that he must leave his family and "enlist" the Turk army. Ardavazt's family hides him from the Turks during a home "inspection", and on his eighteenth birthday, after cake and drink, Ardavazt is whisked off to a ship that sails to safe lands, where he transfers to join a distant cousin in Boston.

In Boston, Ardavazt eventually becomes "Jimmy", and begins the build-out of his American dream. Letters are exchanged between Jimmy and his family left in Armenia, but after a couple of years, there is no longer a response from this family. Jimmy files away his Armenian memories, and never speaks of his family again, not even to Alice, also an Armenian immigrant Jimmy finds love at first sight with in their Boston neighborhood. Alice wants to remember and talk about Armenia -- the good and the horrid. Jimmy refuses to let Alice share those memories with him, and later their young daughter Aghavni "Ava", and as Jimmy further grasps unto the great American entrepreneur, Alice loses her grasp on reality, and eventually must be committed to a sanitarium and submitted to electro-shock treatments. Alice no longer recognizes her husband and child, and with no understanding of why her father is emotionally shut off and brittle, or what made her mother go insane, "Aghavni" is forever Ava, leaving her father's home to become a chorus dancer, but bringing the same of being a disconnected immigrant with her.

"Jimmy" and "Alice's" secrets become Ava's lies, and it is not until she meets singer "Benny" Raymundo, a proud Dominican, baring happy, sad and harrowing memories of his former Dominican life, does Ava begin to open up, a little. Benny insists that Ava have a reconciliation with her father, if only that their child Estrella know her roots, and also (mistakenly) believing that Jimmy is all the family that Ava has left. The reunion of Ava and her father is a mixed bag -- Jimmy and Benny come to quickly adore one another; Ava would rather her father be back in Boston, especially if he's going to share her family secret with Benny.

The birth and upbringing of Estrella brings sobering realities to Ava -- knowing better doesn't necessarily result in doing better or being better, and a Christmas Eve reunion with Jimmy and spirits from the past bring epiphany to both father and daughter, which will allow Estrella the freedom from Turk atrocities Erzinga is not a story about genocide, but a story about the "collateral damage" of genocide; the shame and shaming of the victims; the stench and aroma of madness that infects and plunders until the victim finds the key -- the lynchpin -- to unshackle themselves, first by finding the ways to accept that bitter herbs rest next to the sweetness of honey and apples in this life, the lives that came before, and Erzinga must be seen and experienced for what it is -- a remarkable work that resonates through all of us with a buy-in to the Family of Humankind.

Night Over Erzinga plays through November 11 at Pierce Hall at the Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St. Tickets and more information here.

GB store
GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15