The creators (lee williams boudakian, Kamee Abrahamian) of Dear Armen arrive at the stage committed to telling stories that centre the struggles and successes of SWANA folks, people of colour, and queer, trans and gender nonconforming Armenians – exploring the intersections of identity, history, and cultural memory.
The project was conceived during a three-week artist residency in September 2013 at the Abrahamian Arts Centre in Yerevan, Armenia. Since its inception, Dear Armen has morphed from staged reading to interdisciplinary production featuring 2 distinct versions and 5 incarnations; which have toured throughout Canada, USA & Armenia.
The most recent iterations of the play were directed by Anoushka Ratnarajah & feature music by Haig Ashod Beylerian.
lee williams boudakian (uses they, them, theirs pronouns) is a queer, non-binary trans, Armenian-Liverpudlian mixie with ancestral ties to Lebanon, Syria, what is current-day south-eastern Turkey, and Liverpool, England. Born in Scarborough, and having moved more times than they can count, lee currently works as an interdisciplinary artist, writer, performer, and facilitator based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territories. Current love projects include Kalik, ShapeShift Arts, Dear Armen, and The HyePhen Mag. Their work explores memory, herstory, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, intergenerational trauma, addictions, and mental health diversities – seeking to share un(der)represented stories of survival. lee arrives at artmaking as a means for survival, resistance, community building, world&future visioning, and celebration towards liberation and healing.
Kamee was born in an immigrant suburb to an Armenian family by way of the SWANA region; and currently lives on settler land, uninvited. She arrives in the world today as a queer woman, a mother, and a multidisciplinary producer, performer, artist, facilitator, and storyteller. She has a BFA/BA in film and political science, an MA in expressive art therapy, and is currently pursuing an MA/PhD in Depth Psychology with a specialization in community, liberation, and eco psychologies. The bedrock of Kamee’s arts background is in classical ballet, theatre, and visual art. In collaboration with fellow artists and allies (Kalik Arts, Saboteur Productions, Lovelinest), she continues to develop and build on a body of work that spirals in-to and out-of fragmented time/place through ancestral healing, diasporic futurism and decolonial imagination — inclusive of film, performance, writing, transmedia, digital art and design.
Tiffany Golarz was a part of Dear Armen’s creation team. Along with Kamee Abrahamian, she has managed and produced a plethora of experimental theatre shows, short films, and events that have toured internationally. She co-founded Saboteur Productions and has since been working on its affiliated projects.
Haig Ashod Beylerian is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, writer, and performer born in Toronto, Canada. He received his BMus in guitar performance at Dalhousie University and is currently working on a masters degree in guitar performance at the University of Toronto. Haig has scored and performed in a number of theatrical productions in Halifax and Toronto, and has collaborated with musicians from a variety of disciplines. He most recently joined the Saboteur Productions creation team as a composer and principle performer.
Anoushka Ratnarajah is a queer, mixed race femme, and a multi-discplinary and transnational artist and organizerShe received her MA in Arts Politics from NYU, and has worked as a producer, performer, writer and arts organizer with cultural and arts organizations in Vancouver, Montreal and New York. Her most recent creative projects include “Capital, Alice!”, a collaboratively devised anti-capitalist Alice in Wonderland musical, “Toasted Marshmallows” a documentary film and community building project exploring what it means to be a mixed-race woman in North America today.