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TORONTO: Annex Director Steps Into Lead Role: A Crooked Man Tackles

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  • TORONTO: Annex Director Steps Into Lead Role: A Crooked Man Tackles

    By Carrie Brunet
    http://www.insidetoronto .com/lifestyle/Lifestyle/Arts/article/40271
    Jan 31 2008

    With success on television and the silver screen, Hrant Alianak rarely
    gets the chance to do the thing he truly loves - theatre acting.

    "I have produced so many times," he said. "But it's so much
    administrative stuff. It's the least enjoyable part of it."

    This month, the Annex actor/director is premiering A Crooked Man,
    a play by Richard Kalinoski who also wrote the acclaimed Beast on
    the Moon, which Alianak produced in 1997.

    Both plays discuss the Armenian genocide, and although Alianak knows
    that he will have a built-in audience in Armenian-Canadians, he hopes
    that the play will resonate with the broader general public.

    "What's important is that the central theme comes across to
    non-Armenians," he said. "There was a genocide, and it hasn't been

    It's heavy material for the man who has had recurring roles on Canadian
    comedies like Jeff Ltd. and Little Mosque on the Prairie.

    But Alianak promises there are some laughs to be had in the play
    where he stars as the 88-year-old Hagop, an Armenian who witnessed
    his own mother's murder during the genocide.

    The old man is tormented by his own demons, as his hands are not clean;
    he assassinated the Turkish governor responsible for the massacres
    perpetrated in his village. It's his reporter grandson who uncovers
    his past during an interview for a magazine article.

    "There are themes in the play that are of interest to all humanity,"
    said Alianak.

    Based on a true story, the play is rooted in the relationship of the
    grandson and grandfather, he explained.

    Alianak never lived in Armenia, since his family fled to Sudan before
    he was born. However, he still feels a strong tie to his homeland.

    "I've been here two thirds of my life," he said of Canada, explaining
    that he has never even visited the home his parents fled. "But I've
    directed five shows about Armenian issues."

    Opting to do a more "abstract" production, Alianak is pleased with
    how the play is coming together. He opted to play the lead character
    himself when he found that older actors were intimidated by the number
    of lines in the role.

    "I decided to slap on some makeup and do it myself," he said, admitting
    he had overlooked the obvious choice. "I need to keep myself honest
    and do some stage work."

    Previews takes place Feb. 20 and the show opens Feb. 22 a the Theatre
    Centre, 1087 Queen St. W. (entrance on Dovercourt), Tuesdays to
    Saturdays at 8 p.m. and, Sundays at 2:30 p.m. For tickets, visit
    online at or call the box office at 416-504-7529.