“We didn’t say anything because there was such an awful lot to say, and no language to say it in.” William Saroyan. The Pomegranate Trees
“To Forget” is a performance celebrating the life and art of Sergei Parajanov. The play and its aesthetic imagery are connected by an existential rhyme to Parajanov’s films, collages, and biography.
Sergei Parajanov was a performer and a queer man under the Soviet dictatorship long before these terms came into use. Parajanov teaches us the art of being ourselves through his films and life. “To Forget” is an endeavour of people from Armenia to understand their agency, preserving their identity and worldview in the face of omnipresent imperial pressure and colonial practices.
Four performers are laying out books on stage, thus referring to a scene from Parajanov’s “The Colour of Pomegranates”, where books lie on the roof of the Sanahin Monastery, drying after the rain. Actors are laying out the books and talking about life, art, death, love, grief, God, tenderness, and eternity. Sometimes they keep silent. In Parajanov’s last script, “Confession”, the author called himself a “Man seeking truth”. This definition sets the vector of the performance, which seeks to get a little closer to the truth or to measure the distance to the truth through its existence. The book pages rustle in the wind. It is beautiful.
Sergei Parajanov was a man who created the beautiful in the dystopia of the Soviet regime. The performance borrows and adopts Parajanov’s attitude to the world as a work of art. It erects Parajanov’s law of life and his talent to recognise beauty, create it in the most monstrous conditions and be saved by beauty from grief or injustice.
Beauty can give hope and heal. Beauty saves us in the most difficult conditions of war, imprisonment, or disease... The habit of seeing beauty may be the very vaccine we need today. Hopefully, this is how art can be truly useful.