Van Dyke’s Work Ethic: Change and Collaboration


BOSTON — Following Saturday’s reading of her new play, “Deported: A Dream Play,” playwright Joyce Van Dyke pronounced herself, “…encouraged. I think the changes I’ve made are good and that a lot of this is working. The first reading we did was with Sayat Nova, and then we did another reading at the New Repertory Theater. In the original version, there were many more characters — 30 — and now I have it down to 22.”

The idea for “Deported” surfaced several years ago when Martin Deranian attended a performance of another of Van Dyke’s plays, “A Girl’s War.”

“I had never met Martin, but I knew my mother knew him. He told me about the friendship between his mother and my grandmother and said he thought I should write a play about them. I was too busy at the time, but Martin is indefatigable. He’s very sweet, very determined and very patient. He kept calling me and talking to me. It took a few years, but I finally agreed.”

In the meantime, Deranian had collected everything he could — documents, records. He spoke to relatives who had known his mother.

“By searching out eyewitnesses, Martin came across some amazing stories — one about Turkish soldiers, who were so starved that when they smoked, they would cup the ashes in their hands and lap them up,” said Van Dyke.

She continued, “I was pleased tonight that two-thirds of the audience was not Armenian. My ideal has always been a mixed audience. I never wanted this play to be just for an Armenian audience. The Genocide happened, and it’s a mistake to think something similar can’t happen again.”

Looking forward to the full production of “Deported” next year, Van Dyke said she will be preoccupied with the play until it is put on at the Modern Theater next spring.

“We want those performances to be more than just the play. We’re planning panels to discuss the issues raised in the play and the panels will include Turkish participants. We’re also planning exhibits to go along with the play,” she said.

“I believe the theater is the ideal place to have a conversation about the Genocide,” said Van Dyke. “First of all, I hope the play gives people an amazing, theatrical experience, that it opens people’s eyes and hearts and minds. Some people who see it will know the story intimately, other people will not have heard of it. I believe something electrical can happen in the theater that can bring about change.”