Dramatic Texts >> Leslie Ayvazian >> Nine Armenians
Nine Armenians by Leslie Ayvazian
 
CHARACTERS
           
NON (Marie)—The grandmother
POP (Vartan)—The grandfather
ARMINE—Their daughter, the mother
JOHN—Her husband, the father
ANI—Their oldest daughter, 21 years old
VIRGINIA (GINYA)—Middle child, 15 years old
RAFFI—Youngest child, 11 years old
AUNT LOUISE—John’s sister
UNCLE GARO—Her husband
ARMENIAN MAN—Played by the actor who plays POP
 
All nine characters wear coats in every scene: fall coats, winter coats, and spring coats, except sweaters in the summer.
 
TIME AND PLACE
 
The time is 1992.
The place is an Armenian suburb (probably in New Jersey) and Yerevan, Armenia.
Armenian music is played on Armenian instruments.
A simple set. Needs to include: an offstage tree with branches visible onstage. A bush. A doorway. A car.
 
 
 
SCENE ONE
 
A driveway. 
A car is parked in the driveway. 
There is a suggestion of a house: steps or a door, etc. 
A rhododendron bush is downstage. 
A tree is offstage. We see a branch. 
Armenian music plays.
 
Lights come up as members of the immediate family (all except ANI) are coming together to say good-bye. They are wearing their clothes and carrying pans of food wrapped in aluminum foil.
 
 
 
JOHN
Good-bye!
 
ARMINE
Bye, bye, Pop!
 
NON
Manock parov! [Good-bye!]
 
ARMINE
Bye, bye, ma!
 
NON
You have the food?
 
JOHN, GINYA, and ARMINE
It’s here!
 
NON
All right.
 
RAFFI
It’s spilling!
 
NON
You need a rubber band!
 
ARMINE
No, no.
 
GINYA
Good-bye, Non!
 
RAFFI
Good-bye, Papa!
 
NON and POP
Good-bye, dear!
 
JOHN
Good-bye, good-bye everyone! (They all hug and kiss each other.) Come on, Armine, let’s go! (They break apart.)
 
ARMINE
See you Tuesday, Ma!
 
NON
Bye, bye.
 
ARMINE
Come on, Raffi.
 
NON
(She squeezes RAFFI’s cheeks.) Bachigs! [Kisses!]
 
JOHN, ARMINE, RAFFI, and GINYA
Bachigs! Bachigs! Bachigs!
 
NON and POP
Bachigs! Bachigs! Bachigs!
 
POP
I must go inside.
 
ARMINE
Bye, Pop.
 
POP
Marie!
 
NON
What?
 
POP
I’m going inside.
 
NON
Yes, Vartan, go. Armine!
 
ARMINE
What, Ma?
 
POP
Come in, Marie. That’s enough.
 
NON
Yes, yes. I’m coming. I.O. [Yes.]
 
ARMINE
What, Ma?
 
NON
(To ARMINE.) Call when you get home.
 
ARMINE
Of course.
 
POP
Good-bye Annushigus. [Dear one.]
 
ARMINE
Bye, Pop. (POP exits.)
 
JOHN
Come on, dear!
 
ARMINE
Ma, good-bye. Go inside!
 
JOHN
Give regards to Sarkis…
 
ARMINE and JOHN
…and Va Va.
 
NON
Ya. Ok.
 
ARMINE
Ma, go!
 
NON
Ya. Ya. (NON exits.)
 
ARMINE
Where’s Raffi? Raffi! Come on! Time to go!
 
RAFFI
Ok, Mom. (RAFFI doesn’t move.)
 
GINYA
Look at this bird!
 
RAFFI
Mom, can I take my coat off?
 
ARMINE
No, no, dear.
 
JOHN
Everybody in the car! Let’s go!
 
ARMINE
Let me get a rubber band! (NON enters carrying a rubber band.)
 
NON
Here’s a rubber band! Why not take the tass kebob? [lamb stew] (JOHN goes in house.)
 
ARMINE
Ma, there’s no room.
 
GINYA
Nonnie, look at this bird!
 
NON
Yavroom [Darling], you can hold the tass kebob. Put it on the floor under your feet.
 
GINYA
Between my feet, Non. It’s between my feet.
 
NON
What is, darling?
 
ARMINE
Raffi! Ok! Come on! Let’s go!
 
GINYA
No! Look at the bird.
 
ARMINE
Where’s Pop?
 
NON
Inside. What bird?
 
GINYA
Right there!
 
ARMINE and NON
Where?
 
GINYA
By the branch there. At the end. See? (JOHN enters carrying a big pot of food.)
 
JOHN
Ok! Everybody in the car!
 
ARMINE
What’s that?
 
JOHN
I took the tass kebob.
 
NON
Afarehim! [Excellent!]
 
ARMINE
Raffi!
 
RAFFI
Ok, Mom. (RAFFI doesn’t move)
 
ARMINE
Where’s Pop?
 
NON
In the bathroom.
 
ARMINE
I want to say good-bye.
 
JOHN
Armine! You said good-bye!
 
GINYA
Dad, don’t start the car.
 
JOHN
Why not?
 
GINYA
Come look at this bird.
 
NON
A cutie-pie!
 
JOHN
It’s time to go!
 
GINYA
(Pointing to bird) Look, Dad!
 
ARMINE
(ARMINE enters, carrying a tray of baklava.) I think Pop is locked in the bathroom.
 
JOHN
Oh, Jesus!
 
ARMINE
You talk to him, dear.
 
JOHN
Tell your mother….Tell your mother to take the goddamn locks off the doors! (JOHN goes into the house. ARMINE follows, still carrying tray of food. RAFFI stays by the bush and takes out a small pad and pen and draws. GINYA watches bird. From the house, we hear:) Vartan! Vartan! It’s John!
 
POP
John!
 
JOHN
I’m here. You’re locked in the bathroom!
 
POP
John! I’m locked in the bathroom!
 
JOHN
It’s ok, Pop.
 
POP
What do I do?
 
JOHN
Put your hand on the lock, Pop.
 
POP
Help me!
 
JOHN
It’s ok, Pop.
 
GINYA
Hi, Pop! It’s Virginia!
 
POP
Ginya! I’m locked in here.
 
GINYA
It’s ok, Pop.
 
POP
What do I do?
 
ARMINE
Just relax, Pop.
 
JOHN
Turn the knob toward the window. Toward the window!
 
POP
Which?
 
ARMINE
The window!
 
GINYA
The window, Pop.
 
JOHN
Not the tub!
 
NON
Not the tub, Vartan!
 
POP
Marie! Are you there?
 
NON
I’m here, Vartan.
 
JOHN
Turn in the other direction from the tub!
 
POP
Which one?
 
ALL (Including RAFFI)
Not the tub!
 
JOHN
Pop! Listen to where I’m knocking on the door. Listen, Pop!
 
POP
Ok! (Knocking sound.)
 
JOHN
Turn toward the sound, Vartan! (Knocking continues.)
 
POP
Ok.
 
JOHN
That’s it, Pop!
 
ALL
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
 
NON
Afarehim! [Excellent!]
 
ARMINE
All right now. (GINYA enters. She goes to tree.)
 
GINYA
Bird’s still there.
 
RAFFI
Where?
 
GINYA
See that white thing? (ARMINE enters still with tray of food.)
 
ARMINE
Manock parov, Ma. [Good-bye.] Be careful, Papa. Come on, kids. Raffi, put on your coat on.
 
RAFFI
Why?
 
ARMINE
It’s better. (NON enters with another tray of food.)
 
NON
Don’t forget the kata. [rolls] (JOHN following NON)
 
JOHN
Marie, we have no room for any more food.
 
NON
On the trunk!
 
GINYA
In the trunk, Non. It’s in the trunk.
 
NON
What is, darling?
 
JOHN
Come on, kids!
 
ARMINE
Come on, kids. What are you doing?
 
RAFFI
Look at this bird.
 
NON
Aman. Shad Annushig! [So sweet!]
 
ARMINE
That white bird?
 
RAFFI
In the leaves.
 
JOHN
What bird?
 
GINYA
That’s not a white bird. It’s a little brown bird holding a Kleenex.
 
JOHN
A brown bird?
 
ARMINE
A Kleenex?
 
GINYA
It might be a paper towel.
 
ARMINE
Maybe he’s taking it to his kitchen! (Laughs. POP enters. All are looking at the bird.)
 
POP
What is it? What are you looking at?
 
ARMINE
It’s a bird, Pop!
 
JOHN
What’s in his beak?
 
NON, ARMINE, and GINYA
Toilet paper. Kleenex. Paper towel.
 
POP
What?
 
RAFFI
He’s stepping on it!
 
JOHN
I think it’s a napkin.
 
POP
What, Marie? What is it? Ah see inch chay? [What is it?]
 
NON
Ice Turchuna Kleenex oonee! [The little bird has a Kleenex.]
 
POP
Turchuna Kleenex? Boh! (Laughs.)
 
RAFFI
He keeps stepping on it.
 
ARMINE
I bet he’s taking it to that nest under the eaves.
 
RAFFI
I feel sorry for the bird.
 
NON
Yavroom, it’s good! He’s doing his work!
 
GINYA
He’s bringing home a big white Kleenex for his family!
 
POP
Good for him! (They all watch the bird fly over their heads.)
 
ALL
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
 
ARMINE
He’s under the eaves!
 
GINYA
Oh no! It ripped!
 
RAFFI
It ripped?
 
ARMINE
No, no, it’s all right! Now he has a more manageable piece in his mouth.
 
RAFFI
Why is he just standing there?
 
JOHN
He’s waiting for us to leave!
 
POP
Ok! Let’s go!
 
JOHN
That’s right! Let’s go! (They come together again, and hug, and kiss good-bye. They break apart when POP says:)
 
POP
Good-bye!
 
RAFFI and ARMINE
Bye, Pop! (RAFFI goes to a bush and sits.)
 
ARMINE
Bye, Ma. Don’t forget, on Tuesday, we go to the podiatrist.
 
NON
Ya.
 
JOHN
Oh! Marie, did you sew my buttons?
 
NON
Aman, of course. I’ll get.
 
JOHN
I’ll get.
 
NON
I’ll get. (NON and JOHN go in the house)
 
POP
They went inside! Ginya!
 
GINYA
Yes, Pop?
 
POP
When do you have your commencement?
 
GINYA
In three years, Pop.
 
POP
Ah. Are you successful, Ginya? Do you succeed?
 
GINYA
In life?
 
POP
Boh? (Laughs.) Life! (GINYA laughs too.) Ahhh. (Smiling.) What’s so funny?
 
GINYA
Life?
 
POP
Boh! (Laughs again.) Ya.
 
ARMINE
Pop, are you ok?
 
POP
Ya.
 
ARMINE
Do you want to go in the house?
 
POP
No dear. I’m enjoying my visit.
 
ARMINE
Ok.
 
POP
Yavroom [dearest], what is your favorite pastime?
 
GINYA
I’m a pretty good athlete, Pop.
 
POP
Sports?
 
GINYA
Yea!
 
POP
And you write!
 
GINYA
Ani writes. I run. Raffi is the boy.
 
POP
Ya, of course. You run, Annushig [sweetie or darling or my love]! Who taught you?
 
GINYA
My gym teacher.
 
POP
Bravo!
 
GINYA
Yea.
 
POP
Do they teach the history, Ginya, also, in the school?
 
GINYA
No, Pop.
 
POP
Shall I come to your school? Shall I speak?
 
GINYA
I don’t know, Pop.
 
ARMINE
John! Where are you?
 
RAFFI
He’s in the house!
 
POP
Raffi! There you are!
 
RAFFI
Hi, Pop.
 
POP
Hi. Are you content, Raffi, with your bush?
 
RAFFI
Sure, Pop.
 
POP
Afarehim! [Excellent!]
 
ARMINE
Raffi? What’s going on?
 
RAFFI
Nothing, Ma.
 
POP
Ginya! We were speaking.
 
GINYA
Yes, Pop?
 
POP
Do you know? It is happening again.
 
GINYA
What is, Pop?
 
POP
The Armenians are starving. Do they tell you this Ginya? Do you know? What is you age?
 
GINYA
Fifteen.
 
ARMINE
Ginya, where’s your father?
 
GINYA
In the house. I’m fifteen, Pop.
 
POP
Armenia, Ginya, has one railroad. It goes through the country from the north. Do you know which country?
 
ARMINE
John! Come on!
 
GINYA
Turkey?
 
POP
Turkey? No. Georgia, Ginya, has the railroad that brings the supplies from the sea towns to Armenia.
 
ARMINE
Where’s Raffi?
 
POP
It is stopped. It is dismantled. The country is starving.
 
GINYA
He’s by the bush, Ma.
 
POP
Aman…We are dying.
 
GINYA
Yes, Pop.
 
ARMINE
Ginya! Get your father!
 
POP
Where’s Ani?
 
GINYA
She’ll be home soon. (GINYA goes into house.)
 
POP
What do you draw, Raffi, in your pictures?
 
RAFFI
Um. Aliens.
 
POP
Aliens?
 
RAFFI
Yea. (Gives POP picture.)
 
POP
So this is what they look like!
 
RAFFI
Yea!
 
POP
I see. Raffi, do you ever draw a landscape?
 
RAFFI
You mean a picture of some land?
 
POP
Ya, some land. Perhaps also with a mountain?
 
RAFFI
Well, not usually.
 
POP
Perhaps, Mt. Ararat, Raffi. The mountain in Armenia where…
 
RAFFI and POP
Noah’s Ark landed.
 
POP
Boh! (Laughs.) Ya. Aman.
 
RAFFI
I’ll draw it, Pop.
 
POP
Bravo!
 
ARMINE
John!
 
(JOHN enters. NON follows carrying pressed pants on a hanger. GINYA follows NON. They cross to the car.)
 
JOHN
I’m here!
 
POP
Marie! Where is Ani?
 
NON
Ginya, tell Pop.
 
GINYA
She’s in Nevada. The desert.
 
POP
Why didn’t she come today? Marie, shouldn’t she come today?
 
RAFFI
She can’t, Pop. She’s in jail.
 
POP
She was arrested?
 
ARMINE
She’s all right. She’s in jail with two nuns.
 
POP
Why?
 
ARMINE
They prayed on the test site.
 
POP
Marie, what is it?
 
NON
Aneen Nevada Ah nuclear bombs see head-day. [Ani is in Nevada with nuclear bombs.]
 
POP
Aman, Marie!
 
NON
She’s all right, Vartan.
 
ARMINE
Ma! Did you sew John’s pants?
 
NON
I did. I gave.
 
JOHN
I have. They’re here.
 
ARMINE
Ok.
 
JOHN
Let’s go.
 
POP
Marie, should we write a letter? Should we write a letter to the jail?
 
NON
Armine, talk to Pop.
 
ARMINE
Pop, she’ll be home soon.
 
POP
I’ll write.
 
ARMINE
Ok, Pop.
 
POP
Marie, I’ll write.
 
NON
All right, dear.
 
JOHN
Ok! I’m counting!
 
NON
Counting what, dear?
 
JOHN
Minutes!
 
NON
Aman! The grape leaves!
 
ARMINE
We don’t have time, Ma.
 
NON
Ginya, you go pick some grape leaves in the back for your mother. Vartan, you help her.
 
POP
Did you give Ani the book, Marie?
 
NON
What book, dear?
 
POP
My book.
 
NON
She has them, Vartan. She has them.
 
POP
My last book, Marie!
 
GINYA
Papa, let’s go.
 
NON
All right, dear, I’ll give it.
 
POP
Marie, she should be here.
 
NON
I know, dear.
 
GINYA
Pop, let’s pick the grape leaves.
 
POP
We are landlocked. We have no port.
 
NON
Vartan, what are you saying?
 
POP
The conditions, Marie. The conditions.
 
NON
Yes, dear. It’s true. Are you tired?
 
POP
I am not.
 
NON
Ok…Go on, Vartan.
 
POP
Marie, one minute! Just one minute!
 
NON
Yes, dear. What is it?
 
POP
Where is my photograph? Have I asked you this, Marie? The photo, with my father. At the church. In the frame. Where is it?
 
NON
The wire has broken, Vartan. It is being repaired.
 
POP
Ok!...Marie…
 
NON
Yes, dear?

POP
We must make a gift to Ani, when she returns. She should have that photograph. The photo and the book.
 
NON
All right, Vartan. We’ll give them to her.
 
POP
Make sure.
 
NON
Yes, dear, of course.
 
POP
All right.
 
GINYA
Come on, Pop.
 
POP
You don’t go outside after dark, do you Ginya?
 
GINYA
No, Pop.
 
(POP and GINYA exit. ARMINE heads for house.)
 
JOHN
Armine! Where are you going?
 
ARMINE
Bathroom!
 
JOHN
Let’s go, Raffi!
 
NON
John, Louise is having heart pains.
 
JOHN
I know, Marie.
 
NON
Yavroom [dearest], she’s your sister.
 
JOHN
Don’t ask me, Marie.
 
NON
She wants you to listen to her chest.
 
JOHN
I have listened to her chest, Marie. Let’s go, Armine!
 
NON
She’s not sleeping well, dear.
 
JOHN
That’s not new, Marie. (ARMINE enters.)
 
ARMINE
Is your sister coming?
 
NON
She wants him to listen to her chest. (RAFFI has walked up and joined them.)
 
ARMINE
What do you need, dear?
 
RAFFI
Nothing.
 
ARMINE
Ok. We’ll go in a minute. Get in the car. (RAFFI gets in car. GINYA enters with aluminum foiled package.)
 
JOHN
Armine!
 
GINYA
Papa gave me the rest of the baklava.
 
NON
Where are the grape leaves?
 
ARMINE
John, please, Louise is having pain.
 
JOHN
I don’t have my stethoscope! Do you think I have my stethoscope?
 
NON
Armine, never mind, dear. You’re right, John. You go. Raffi! (RAFFI sticks his head out car window.)
 
RAFFI
What?
 
NON
(Surprised.) Ah! You’re hiding, Annushig [sweetie]! Good-bye, darling!
 
GINYA
Non, Pop didn’t want me to pick the grape leaves.
 
NON
Ya. Ok.
 
ARMINE
The sink! Oh, John, the sink!
 
JOHN
Jesus, Armine, Jesus.
 
(He storms into the house. ARMINE and NON follow.)
 
ARMINE
He never tells me why he’s upset.
 
(Beat. GINYA and RAFFI get out of car.)
 
RAFFI
What sink?
 
GINYA
Who knows. (GINYA crosses to bush, takes a piece of toilet paper out of her pocket. She tears the paper into little pieces, making a little pile.)
 
RAFFI
When we get home, I want to show you what I found.
 
GINYA
Ok.
 
RAFFI
But don’t talk about it, Ok?
 
GINYA
Ok.
 
RAFFI
Don’t tell me things about it. Don’t tell me things.
 
GINYA
Ok. Shut-up.
 
(NON enters carrying her light weight porch chair. She sits.)
 
NON
What do you study, darling, in your school?
 
GINYA
The regular stuff.
 
NON
Anything about the Armenians, darling?
 
GINYA
Not yet, Non. I’ll tell you when.
 
NON
Ok. That’s perfect.
 
GINYA
Non, Papa didn’t let me go through the gate to pick the grape leaves.
 
NON
Ya.
 
RAFFI
He thinks you’ll get your thumb shot off, right, Non? Like his sister?
 
GINYA
Was it his sister, Non?
 
NON
It was his sister. First they shot her hand when she put it on the fence gate. Then they shot her in the back.
 
RAFFI
Oh.
 
GINYA
Non, will you move this to the windowsill, if it rains?
NON
Your little pile? Ya.
 
(JOHN bursts out of house. ARMINE following.)
 
JOHN
I can’t fix sinks! Call someone who fixes sinks! Call Ernie Breed! He fixes sinks!
 
ARMINE
Ma, I’ll call Ernie Breed.
 
JOHN
I can’t fix sinks.
 
LOUISE
(Offstage.) John! (Aunt LOUISE runs on. Her husband, GARO, follows. Both in coats.) John! Pleurisy! Irregular pulse, John!
 
JOHN
That’s not pleurisy, Louise.
 
LOUISE
I have the symptoms, John.
 
GARO
(To GINYA) Hello, dear.
 
GINYA
Hello, Uncle Garo.
 
JOHN
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the lining of the lung, Louise. You don’t have that.
 
LOUISE
I think I do, John.
 
JOHN
No, you don’t, Louise. Go home.
 
LOUISE
Just listen to my lungs.
 
JOHN
You couldn’t have run here in fifteen minutes. You couldn’t have run at all.
 
LOUISE
I need a shunt.
 
GARO
She thinks she needs a shunt.
 
JOHN
She doesn’t need a shunt. Her brain is fine. Her heart is fine. Her lungs are fine.
 
LOUISE
My hands are swelling. My rings are tight.
 
JOHN
I’m going in the house.
 
LOUISE
John! (Exiting.)
 
GARO
(To ARMINE) How are you dear?
 
ARMINE
Busy.
 
LOUISE
He never listens to my heart.
 
GARO
(To GINYA) How’s my favorite dancing partner?
 
LOUISE
Garo, don’t cha-cha!
 
GARO
Have you been practicing?
 
GINYA
Not really.
 
RAFFI
Hi!
 
LOUISE and GARO
Hello, Yavroom! [Darling!]
 
GARO
Raffi, come watch. We’re going to practice. (GARO sings cha-cha music. GARO and GINYA dance.)
 
ARMINE
(To LOUISE) Hello, dear.
 
LOUISE
Where’s Ani?
 
NON
Nebraska. Arrested on the grave site.
 
ARMINE
The test site.
 
NON
Test site! Aman [an expletive: good gracious].
 
LOUISE
I thought she was coming today. Didn’t she say she would be here? Didn’t she say she would come for Sunday meal?
 
ARMINE
She was delayed.
 
LOUISE
Vy Vy Vy. [My, my, my.]
 
RAFFI
Mom, can I leave my coat in the car?
 
ARMINE
No, no dear. You need it.
 
LOUISE
Vartan has been waiting for Ani, you know, Armine.
 
ARMINE
Louise, for Pete’s sake, I know, what should I do?
 
LOUISE
Tell her, there is disappointment! Tell her, Armine!
 
ARMINE
No no no….(JOHN yells from house)
 
JOHN
Where’s the annoushabourg? [Pudding?]
 
ARMINE
She’ll be home soon.
 
NON
Garo, how are you?
 
ARMINE
It’s in the fridge, John!
 
GARO
Fine, Marie.
 
JOHN
I looked in the fridge! Don’t tell me the fridge!
 
LOUISE
Oh, my heart.
 
NON
(To ARMINE) Maybe it’s in the car.
 
ARMINE
No, Ma. John! Look on the counter.
 
GARO
Hey! Look at that bird!
 
LOUISE
What bird?
 
NON
On the little counter, Armine. 
 
GARO
It’s got a white thing!
 
LOUISE
Where is it?
 
ARMINE
Look on the little counter!
 
GARO
What is that?
 
LOUISE
That bird? (JOHN enters.)
 
JOHN
Pop is dead.
 
GARO
What?
 
NON
That’s a nap, dear. He’s napping.
 
JOHN
No, Marie. (Armenian music plays. Lights shift and come up on:)
 
 
 


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