CultureGenocide 100

Tufts Drama Department explores Armenian Genocide with production of ‘Daybreak’

Today, Tufts Department of Drama and Dance debuts its production of “Daybreak,” a play by Boston playwright Joyce Van Dyke, The Tufts Daily reports.

Titled “Deported/a dream play” when it was first put on at Boston’s Modern Theater in 2012, “Daybreak” tells the stories of refugees from the Armenian Genocide. Structurally, the play is split into three scenes depicting the different stages of protagonist Victoria’s changing relationship to the often overlooked tragedy. Victoria, played by sophomore Kristin Reeves, is modeled after the Van Dyke’s grandmother, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide.

The timing of the Tufts production of “Daybreak” is fitting, as 2015 marks the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. In those 100 years, Turkey has continuously denied culpability, let alone the existence, of mass, ethnically targeted killings. Yet, blame is not the point of the play, nor this production; rather, it is acknowledgement and commemoration of the past.

Barbara Wallace Grossman, professor of drama and “Daybreak” director, has a particular fascination with the Holocaust and other genocides, teaching courses like “Confronting Genocide on Stage and Screen” in which students analyze art’s relation to massive tragedies.

“I am very committed to using the arts to illuminate the Holocaust and genocide,” Grossman said. “I’ve created two courses here [on the subjects]. I felt that I had to do something [to commemorate the 100 yearanniversary of the Armenian Genocide]. I felt the department had to do something. I felt that Tufts had to do something to honor that … If this year were the 99th or the 101st, I might not have. But the 100th anniversary — to me — demanded attention. Plus, it’s a play I have used in my course … For me, it was an opportunity I had to seize.”

One of the actors, senior Artoun Nazareth Festekjian said working on “Daybreak” has been difficult for the actors, who bear the play’s emotional weight.

“It was a difficult topic,” Festekjian said. “I felt emotionally connected to this piece. It’s been the hardest production to work on in terms of having to go home at night after rehearsals … It’s hard to do your homework.”

“Daybreak” debuts tonight in Balch Arena Theater.

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