September 2, 2008
Contact: Zoe Kevork
[email protected]
(818) 415-9848


Saturday night, August 23, the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) held
its third annual Celebrity Gala at Stars Palace in Glendale. It was a night
of glamorous performances, awards, music and festivity.

The classic restored theater welcomed 200 people from the Armenian and
American theater and film communities. The Master of Ceremonies for the
evening was Richard Horvitz, actor and voice-over artist. Presenters
included correspondents Jill Simonian (ReelzChannel) and Anita Vogel (FOX
News Channel) and president of the William Saroyan Foundation, Haig
Mardikian. The evening also featured a performance by comedian Sam Tripoli
and a special video tribute to William Saroyan. The audience was also
treated to anecdotes about Saroyan by his nephew Hank Saroyan, an
Emmy-winning director, who told of the humor that permeated his uncle's life
and work.

Folk/rock singer-songwriters John Hodian and Bet Williams performed for a
mesmerized audience. There was also a special surprise performance by Arto
Tuncboyajian, founder of the Armenian Navy Band, who surprised the audience
and treated them to several musical selections including his signature
piece, The Bottle Song.

At the Gala, the inaugural $10,000 William Saroyan Prize for Playwriting was
awarded to Lilly Thomassian for her play, Nadia. The other finalists were
Kristen Lazarian's Flesh and Tenderness and Matthew Yaldezian's The
Living and the Dead. The honorary jury, which evaluated the finalists,
included Obie Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Mac Wellman, acclaimed
playwright Leslie Ayvazian and founder of Playwrights Project Deborah
Salzer. ADAA Officer and playwright Lisa Kirazian and William Saroyan
Foundation President Haig Mardikian presented the prize to Thomassian. The
award was established in January 2007 by the William Saroyan Foundation, and
is granted biennially to the best play based on an Armenian theme. Next
year, ADAA will host the Paul Award for Screenwriting on Armenian themes.

The audience was treated to excerpts from all three finalist plays, with the
winner being announced at the conclusion of the evening. The playwrights
were thrilled to have their words performed by some of the brightest talents
of the Armenian community including: Katie Boland (Adoration), Ken
Davitian (Borat), Magda Harout (Raising the Bar, My Life), Karen
Kondazian (Master Class), Ludwig Manukian (The Shield), Anoush Nevart (
General Hospital, Must Love Dogs), Anahid Shahrik (producer of the ADAA
Reading Series), and Marty Papazian (Jarhead).

Also awarded during the evening was the ADAA Armenian Star Award to
Michael Peretzian, Hollywood literary agent and director of Red Dog Howls.
The play had its international debut in Los Angeles to wide acclaim by both
the entertainment/theatre and Armenian communities. Mr. Peretzian was deeply
touched by the honor and fervent in his acceptance of the award. He spoke of
the shame many Armenians feel about our history. He encouraged the Hollywood
community in attendance "to be proud of our heritage and our stories =85 to
tell [those stories], so that our future generations don't feel that same
shame." California State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian surprised Mr. Peretzian
with the presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation for directing Red
Dog Howls and telling the story of the Armenian Genocide so passionately.

Assemblyman Krekorian presented a second Certificate of Recognition to the
Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance and its president, Bianca Bagatourian. It
read: "Your work in preserving and supporting Armenian drama and art is
unparalleled and greatly appreciated. Congratulations on your wonderful
2008 Annual Celebrity Banquet."

Prominent members of the Armenian community were also in attendance included
Vartkes Yeghiayan, attorney; Ara Najarian, Glendale Councilman; producer Bob
Papazian; Harut Sassounian, editor-and-chief of the California Courier;
Karen Kondazian, Ovation award-winning actor; Simon Levy, playwright and
Fountain Theatre Artistic Director; directors Michael Arabian and Martin
Bedoian (Syzygy Theatre Artistic Director).

The ADAA Celebrity Gala Event Committee was Bianca Bagatourian (ADAA
President), Zoe Kevork (Chair), Lisa Kirazian and Anahid Shahrik. The
evening was sponsored by Francis Ford Coppola Wines and Final Draft. Food
was donated by Phoenicia Restaurant and Carousel Restaurant and dessert by
Sweet Lady Jane. Red carpet interviews were conducted by Horizon TV and
photographs taken by Karine Armen.

The ADAA "has surpassed all expectations with this evening's event," said
Anita Vogel, apparently echoing the sentiments of many. Funds from the gala
will support ADAA's productions and programs intended to project the
Armenian voice on stage and screen around the world. For more information
on ADAA, visit


1. Saroyan Playwriting Contest Finalists: Kristen Lazarian, Matthew
Yaldezian and Winner, Lilly Thomassian

2. Bianca Bagatourian, President of ADAA Receiving Certificate of
Recognition from Assembleyman, Paul Krekorian

3. ADAA Gala Performers Magda Harut and Ken Davitian

4. ADAA Gala Guests - Valerie McCaffrey, Board Member Janet Janjikian, Gary
Simonian, Irene Sasounian, Harout Sasounian, Board Member Karen Kondazian
and Simon Levy, Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre