Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lilly Thomassian: THE LONG MARCH

They told us the soldiers were coming.
My father said we shouldn't worry.
The priest said a prayer. We kissed the holy cross. He blessed us.
Old and young; we prayed in silence.
My little sister cried.
We heard them coming.
There were so many of them marching in the streets that the walls of the house shook from the ground.

The door bursts open. They are inside.
They drag my father out of the house. They tie his arms behind his back.
They round up all the strong men of our village. All have their arms tied behind their backs… We never see them again.
They say we are being relocated.
I did not know that word. Relocated.
They tell us to move forward.

Forward... Always forward...

I manage to hide a silver spoon in my pocket.
We start walking down the road.
The men walk in front.
Women carry the children.
No one speaks.
Old people begin trailing behind.
When the sun finally comes up, I see a long line of people stretched all the way to the sky.

Forward... always forward.

A young man breaks free from the group and runs towards the field. They shoot him in the back. We can see his white shirt on the dry land like a flowering bush.
I see an old woman and an old man sit side by side under the shadow of a tree... They refuse to stand up again... The soldiers shoot them.
Soldiers take a young woman behind the bushes. They laugh. She screams. She never comes out.
The baby in a young woman's arms cries for milk.
Our feet bleed.
The baby keeps crying for milk.
When we pass by the villages people shut their windows. Others throw rocks at us.
The baby in the young woman’s arms stops crying. She keeps carrying him.
The sky, dark with tears.
The road, silent with shame.
The road never stops. The walk never ends.

The man beside me trips and falls.
One after another they keep falling to the ground.
We stop burying the dead. They are too many.
We stop crying for the dead. They are too many.

Forward...always forward.

When my little sister falls, I don't stop for her.
As soon as they drop to the ground vultures start pecking at them. Sometimes they are still alive.
When I look behind I see white patches strewn along the road. One of them is my little sister.
When our feet can’t carry us anymore we crawl on our hands and knees.
We can’t stop walking.
We keep moving.

Forward…always forward.

One of us has to stay alive.
One of us has to remember.
One of us has to speak the truth.

Lilly Thomassian was born in Tehran, Iran and studied at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Her full-length play The Interrogation, inspired by the Iranian revolution, was a finalist in the 2001 Ashland New Plays Festival and the 2003 Senachai Festival in Chicago.
Recently, her one-act Khnamakhos (Dinner) was produced in San Francisco by the Golden Thread Productions and at the AGBU Center as part of the Armenians in LA show.
She is probably best known for her play, Let the Rocks Speak, which won the 2001 Catawba College Peterson Award, as well as Honorable Mention in the Plays for the 21st Century Contest (Playwrights Theater, Texas), and Finalist in the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Competition. Let the Rocks Speak was produced by ShapeShifter Productions in 2003 at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.
In 2006 she was one of the founders of The Luna Playhouse which opened with her play THIRST which was very well received.
NADIA, a play about Armenians in Iraq she is submitting for this contest, is currently one of the finalists in the Stage Left Theater in Chicago and is being considered to be presented at their annual festival.
Lilly has written many screenplays and specs. Around the Corner and Without Baggage, two screenplays she was commissioned to write are presently being considered for production.
Her producing and directing credits include: California Suite by Neil Simon at Group Repertory Theater, A Stage Oddity at FirstStage, The Emptiness by Alfred Eisaian at the Artavazd Theatre at AGBU, The Hired Killer at Theatre Unlimited for the Armenian Theatre Company and The Lady in Question by Charles Busch at the Elephant Theatre.

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