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Shakespeare Goes Armenian

December 15, 2022


Shakespeare Goes Armenian

Shakespheare goes Armenian1

Shakespeare Goes Armenian

by Inna Sahakyan and Lilit Movsisyan
Bars Media | Armenia



The daily strains of old age disappear as a group of elderly residents and a robot in a Soviet-era retirement home lose themselves staging the timeless world of Shakespeare.


At first, Yerevan’s Nork Retirement Home appears frozen in the chaotic 90’s. Large bizarre kitsch frescoes adorn the walls of the disused gym, featuring Clinton and Yeltsin holding hands in the Garden of Eden. But next door a small room signed “Internet” hosts Robin the robot. Robin lives with the residents for their entertainment and has become their psychologist in the process.

Some residents of the decrepit Soviet-era nursing home have discovered how to express themselves through theater. The name of their theater troupe, “Tarmani,” is a blend of two Armenian words meaning “eldery” and “youth.” Tarmani uses drama therapy to help its members cope with old age and social neglect. As well as entertain their fellow residents, play to sell-out audiences, reflect on the course of their lives on stage, and above all, have fun together in their twilight years.

Inspired by the public success of their last play, their director decided to realize his dream of staging Shakespeare. He creates an original screenplay for a suspenseful comedy where Shakespeare is confronted by his most famous characters in purgatory over the destroyed fates he destined them. This film may address difficult topics and tough psychological situations, but will not leave viewers heavy-hearted. While Tarmani’s members are vulnerable in reality, they become invulnerable on stage. A magic which we wish to portray in our film, as we follow our protagonists prepare from rehearsals to the premiere night itself.

Director’s Profile

Inna Sahakyan has directed and produced internationally broadcasted feature-length documentaries, documentary series, and shorts, for over fifteen years. Inna’s work focuses on uncovering untold stories on the nature of humanity via creative and intimate filmmaking. Following her feature-length debut co-directing the award-winning Armenia’s Last Tightrope Dancer in 2010, she directed Mel and Aurora’s Sunrise, completing both international co-productions in 2022. Inna also enjoys mentoring her native Armenia’s next generation of filmmakers.

Lilit Movsisyan graduated from Yerevan State Institute of Theater and Cinematography with honors in 2009 with her short thesis film “Voiceless.” In 2012, her short “Me Too” won three prizes at the Syracuse International Film Festival. In 2015, Movsisyan was selected as a Talent in Sarajevo. Her latest short, “The Trial,” was in competition at GAIFF 2019. Currently she is working on the post-production of her first documentary film “Fight,” which was selected for the EurasiaDoc co-production forum 2019 and won Best Pitch prize at the 1st Film Producers’ Panarmenian Forum. Also “Fight” was selected for the DocsBarcelona Public Pitch 2020 and won the East Doc Platform Award. Movsisyan participated in GAIFF Pro C2C Market 2018, 2019, 2020, EurasiaDoc screenwriting workshop 2019, EAVE on Demand: Producer’s workshop 2018, and Talents Sarajevo 2015.

Company Profile

Bars Media Documentary Film Studio was established by Vardan Hovhannisyan, a frontline-filmmaker who began his career as a stringer covering flash points across the collapsing Soviet empire. Bars Media is one of Armenia’s first independent production companies, specialized at creating documentaries focused on human stories, culture, history, conflict, and pressing social trends overlooked by the headlines.
Bars Media’s documentaries have broadcasted on BBC-Storyville (UK), Arte (France-Germany), WDR (Germany), PBS (US), NHK (Japan), YLE (Finland), NPO (Netherlands) among other international channels. Located in Armenia, the studio is uniquely positioned at the geographic and cultural crossroads of Europe and Asia, between East and West, giving it the ability to access and tell a wide range of stories from the Caucasus region and beyond.