by Leslie Noble
In the autumn of 2014, Sarineh Garapetian, then a sophomore Syracuse University Drama student, approached me about advising her student project: to devise a theater piece based on the novel Zabelle, by Nancy Kricorian. Sarineh’s goal was to perform it in April 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide.
Joined by students Catherine Giddings, Julián Garnik, Lindsey Newton, Leola Powell, and later Adam Coy, and armed with a few props and pieces of music, we entered an imaginative space where Ms. Kricorian’s story of a girl, separated from her family by violence and ethnic hatred, took root.
I learned from Sarineh that Armenian fairy tales begin with “Three apples fell from heaven; one to the storyteller, one to the listener, and one to the eavesdropper.” Hidden within this poetic “Once upon a time” is a reminder of the gift of stories and the need to keep telling them.
Especially in times of mass social upheaval and xenophobia.
The experience of adapting Ms. Kricorian’s powerful story of survival and directing a performance with these extraordinary young people was one that has stayed with me over the years. The students are now the teachers. The story continues. Look up. The apples are falling.
Leslie Noble is a professional actor, director, and teacher, with over 25 years experience in theater, higher education and arts administration. In the early 1990s she co-founded clown theater company Gams on the Lam, which toured internationally for 10 years. From 2001-2017 she worked as an administrator for Syracuse University Dept. of Drama, where she continues to teach clown technique. As an actor and director, Leslie has worked for Syracuse Stage, Geva Theater, Lemoyne College, SU Drama, The Redhouse Arts Center and Franklin Stage Company, where she currently serves as co-artistic director.