‘Beast on the Moon’ playwright Richard Kalinoski to attend opening night performance, accept humanitarian award

Richard Kalinoski, “Beast on the Moon” playwright, will be presented with the inaugural Humanities Award by Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives during the opening evening performance of his play at Salve Regina University on Thursday, Feb. 12. Kalinoski will also conduct a post-show discussion with performers and the audience.

The award honors Kalinoski for the work he has done to promote and keep alive the memory of the 1.5 million Armenians killed during the genocide. “This is really important because not only is it the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, it is also the 20th anniversary of the publication of his great play,” said Reggie Phoenix, associate professor of theatre at Salve Regina and director of the production.

Presented by the university’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, “Beast on the Moon” will run Feb. 12-15 at the Casino Theatre, 9 Freebody St. Show times are at 8 p.m. on Feb. 12-14, with 2 p.m. performances on Feb. 14-15. For ticket information or reservations, contact the Box Office at (401) 341-2250 or www.tinyurl.com/salvecasino.

Beast on the Moon follows the story of 19-year-old Aram Tomasian and his 15-year-old mail-order bride, Seta, both recent immigrants and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, as they try to create a new life for themselves in America after the tragic murder of their families. Theirs is a universal story of hope, healing, redemption, and ultimately, love.

The play has been translated into more than17 languages. Its universal appeal stems from Kalinoski’s skill in writing heartfelt dialogue that speaks to human emotions and truths with honesty and a subtle humor that captivate audiences around the globe.

“Having Mr. Kalinoski visit Salve and attend our opening night performance is surreal and an incredible honor,” Phoenix said. “We’ve worked to bring the play to life in a way that honors his beautiful and sensitive script. Our student actors are some of the best actors I’ve known and I think that having Mr. Kalinoski agree to come see their work is an enormous validation of their work and artistry.”

This production marks the second time Phoenix has directed the play during his career. “My decision to direct it again mostly has to do with the human story of Seta and Aram Tomasian at its center. Theirs is a complex, tragic and yet astonishingly beautiful union. It is fascinating to unpeel the layers of these characters to discover the depth of their humanity. It has been a labor of love. My job as director is to tell the story as clearly as I can without too much embellishment and to let the play speak for itself. Mr. Kalinoski has really done all the work in putting the perfect words in the characters’ mouths at the perfect time. My job is to illuminate those words and get out of the way.”

“Beast on the Moon” implements a key photograph from Project SAVE Archives to explore the emotional complexities faced by survivors of the Armenian Genocide committed by Ottoman Turks under cover of World War I. Since its first production in 1995 at the Louisville, Ky. Humana Festival of New American Plays, the play has won major national awards in several countries including France, Argentina and the United States.

Ruth Thomasian, founder and executive director of Project SAVE Archives, will present the award to Kalinoski in cooperation with Phoenix. The mission of Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, which is based in Watertown, Mass., is to preserve photographs of the Armenian culture.

Kalinoski is currently playwright-in-residence and professor of theater at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.