Written by Lousine Shamamian; Directed by Misti Wills
Part of the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 8.29.15
VENUE #4: Spectrum, 121 Ludlow Street
by Shoshana Roberts on 8.15.15
Lousine Shamamian in Shake the Earth. Photo by Kyle MaKrauer.
BOTTOM LINE: Shake the Earth is an education, providing a humorous history lesson of a country and a woman.
“Armenian women know how to marinate.” It is no shock that Lousine Shamamian is a stand up comic. She lets us all into her intricately astounding brain and heritage in Shake the Earth with talk of food, her personal life, and the family tree. With a healthy dose of vim and vigor, this one woman show is a captivating and comedic true story. Ms. Shamamian effortlessly weaves together the seemingly disparate tales of her sexual awakening with the history of Armenian Genocide.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. About one and a half milllion Armenians were killed in Turkey in 1915 and to this day Turkey continues to deny that this heinousness occurred. While educating her audience, Ms. Shamamian shares the story of her great grandfather Gergie (for which she is one of his fifty great-grandchildren) struggling to survive against all odds. All of the insight she shares about her ancestry parallels her own journey toward self-acceptance. Her Armenian mother outed her at age sixteen and was less than thrilled to learn she had a gay daughter. Part gay rights activist and part Armenian spokesperson, Ms. Shamamian is open and easy even as she questions her proprietorship of her very private family's provocative past.
Ms. Shamamian sets scenes that are easily imagined through focusing on her soulful eyes. Her character work is equally impressive. Regardless of age or gender, her voice, mannerisms, and overall attention to detail serve her well as she inhabits many folks from her past in order to tell her story. With the help of director Misti B. Wills, Shake the Earth is a profoundly personal look into Lousine Shamamian's Armenian ancestry and her life as a gay woman.
(Shake the Earth plays at VENUE #4: Spectrum, 121 Ludlow Street, through August 29, 2015. Performances are Mon 8/17 at 3:45; Thu 8/20 at 5:30; Sat 8/22 at 7; Mon 8/24 at 2; and Sat 8/29 at 8:45. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit shaketheearth.net.)