Deported/a dream play tells a very personal story of two friends who survived the Armenian genocide and forged new lives in the United States. What’s extraordinary is that the two lead characters are based on the playwright’s grandmother and her best friend.
Ten archival photos of these real people and the world in which they lived are on display in the lobby of Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre, where the show is running through April 1.
The photos, on loan from Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, Inc., depict playwright Joyce Van Dyke’s grandmother and the mother of H. Martin Deranian, who lives in Shrewsbury.
“We are lucky to have photos of Joyce’s grandmother and Martin’s mother,” said Project SAVE founder Ruth Tomasian. “But we also want to show what life was like in Armenia before, during, and after the genocide.”
The photos include funny and poignant family portraits and a striking wedding party, circa 1890; a harrowing image of Armenian prisoners marching under the watchful eye of rifle-bearing guards in 1915; and a return to happy times in the United States, including a photo in which Martin is the best man at a friend’s 1952 wedding.
Tomasian said she’s been collecting photos of Armenian life since 1975, when she founded Project SAVE as a way to promote Armenian culture.
Deranian has been a supporter of Project SAVE since 1982, when he donated his family photos. But it wasn’t until he saw a production of Van Dyke’s A Girl’s War in 2003 that he and Van Dyke realized their connection.
“It gives me goose bumps to think of the way these two families reconnected,” she said. “It’s important to honor these memories.”