Beast on the Moon
by Richard Kalinoski
“I was introduced to your play in 2001, when it was playing at the Theatre de l’Oeuvre. I think I saw it five times. Right away, the text moved me by its intensity,interplay: I'd say challenge [as in 'how challenging it is' in terms of confronting human difficulty], and the force of its humanity. I don’t know many texts in the history of the theater that allow an actor and an actress to draw on as many emotions and nuances as those given by ARAM and SETA TOMASIAN. I love the story-telling theatre, where actors have fun, expand, and grow. With your play, one might say that we are fulfilled.” - Laurent Rochut, Artistic Director, Theatre De L'oulle, Avignon, France
Aram: a swarthy young man, 23
Seta: a young woman, eager and grateful, 15
Vincent: a 12-year-old street urchin
A genial elderly gentleman
Inspired by harrowing true events, Beast on the Moon follows the lives of an immigrant refugee and his teenage, mail-order bride. Seta and Aram are two polar opposites who have one tragic experience in common. The play, set in early 1920s Milwaukee, unfolds around the effort of the couple to have a child. Infertility threatens not only their dreams, but also their relationship, until the presence of an orphaned boy forces them to reckon with each other and the past. Peppered with humor, irony, and bittersweet surprise, theirs is a universal story of hope, healing, redemption, and finally, love.
Beast on the Moon has been performed in over 20 countries and has been translated into 19 languages, the latest being in Turkish.
Select Production History
--Quebec City's La Bordee Theatre, February 2018
--Italy's Teatro Due in Parma, January
--Italy's Centro Teatrale Bresciano, November/December
--Russia's Moscow Art Theatre (13th year in repertory)
--Siberia's Ulan-Ude production, June
--Tallinn City Theatre of Estonia, May 2016
--Salve Regina University, February
--Worcester State University, April
--Istanbul, Turkey, May, 2015 (Published in Turkish language)
--Raven Theatre in Chicago, April to June, 2015
--Tallinn City Theatre of Estonia
--Tallinn City Theatre of Estonia
-- In Tandem Theatre in Milwaukee, Spring of 2014
--Milan, Italy, Marseilles, France and Montreal, Quebec in the Spring of 2013.
--Tallinn City Theatre of Estonia
--Tallinn City Theatre of Estonia
--Vaudeville Theatre in Charleroi, Belgium in April of 2011.
--Installed as part of the ongoing repertory of the Tallinn City Theatre of Estonia in March of 2011 (ongoing)
--Poreia Theatre in Athens, Greece; Fall of 2010 thru Spring of 2011
--National tour of Greece in November of 2011
--Poria Theater, Athens, Greece
--Mostar Youth Theatre, Mostar, Bosnia-Herzogovina
--Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, Texas, March
--Pumphouse Players, Cartersville, Georgia, February
--Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham, England*
--Provision Theater at the Irish American Heritage Center, Chicago, April*
--La Costa Theatre Company at The Trapdoor Theatre, Chicago, October*
--Off-Broadway, Century Center for the Performing Arts, Commercial.*
(Stillwater Productions; April 27- July, 2005: 120 performances)
--Moscow Art Theatre, Moscow, Russia, November (ongoing rep.)*
--Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Germany, April through December*
--Heartland Theatre Company, Normal/Bloomington, Illinois, October
--The Bas Bleu Theatre Company, Fort Collins, Colorado, January
--Teatro de la Comedia (revival), San Juan, Puerto Rico, October*
--Lincoln Square Theatre, Chicago, March
--Green Bay Community Theater, Green Bay, Wisconsin, November
--Teatro de la Comedia, San Juan, Puerto Rico, October*
--Sesc Belenzinho, Sao Paulo, Brazil, September*
--Belgrade Drama Theater, City Theater of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia, May *
--Theatre in Prague, the Czech Republic, December (open run)*
--Long Beach Playhouse, Long Beach, California, September
--Eastern College, St. David’s, Pennsylvania, September
--College of the Immaculate Word, San Antonio, Texas, September
--Théâtre de l’Oeuvre, Paris, France* (Prix Moliere), January 16-June 27
--Orlando Fringe Festival, Orlando, Florida, May
--The Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles, California, August-December
--Wuppertal, Germany, German Productions (Summer)
--Multi-country French tour by Theatre Bobigny/Théâtre de Vidy to many cities including Marseilles, Brussels, Toulouse, Lausanne and venues in Italy, Spain and Switzerland; culminating in performances in Beirut, Lebanon (June)*
--Deus Ex Machina Theatre, Athens, Greece, professional production begun in Athens in February and culminated at Theatre Festival in Thessaloniki in May*
--LORT D Production, Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia, February
--Productions in the U.S.: Toledo Repertory Theatre, Stage Presence, Ann Arbor, MI.; Borderlands Theatre, Tucson, AZ.; Stage West, Fort Worth, TX.; Robert Louis Stevenson School, Pebble Beach, CA.
--Théâtre de Vidy, (French) Lausanne, Switzerland, December*
--Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto, Canada, May*
--Salt Lake Acting Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan.-Feb.*
--Off-West End Production, Battersea Arts Center, London, England (May-June)*
--Main stage Equity and Non-Equity Productions: New Theatre of Coral Gables, Florida
--Main stage Equity Productions, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, B-Street Theatre, Sacramento, California,
--Selected for The Humana Festival of New American Plays, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Louisville, KY.*
* indicates Equity and/or professional casts
As of 2009, Beast on the Moon has been translated into 19 languages and produced in venues all over the world, such as Athens, Belgrade, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Moscow, New York, Prague, Sao Paolo, and Toronto.
Countries of Production/Publication:
• Czech Republic
• Japan (pending)
• Puerto Rico
• Moliere Awards – 5, including Best Play, Moliere Academy, Paris, France, 2001
• Ace Awards – 5, including Best Play, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2001
• Osborn – Best New Play in America by an Emerging Playwright, American Theatre Critics Association, 1996
• Khorenatsi Medal – Presented by President Robert Kocharian, on behalf of the country of Armenia, 2005
• Garland Award, Backstage West, Los Angeles, California, 2000
• Agnouni Award – Armenian Relief Society of North America, 1996
From Reviews of Beast on the Moon
About the 2005, Off-Broadway production directed by Larry Moss:
“Compassionate and humane…” The New Yorker
“One of five must-see plays in New York. ...The play moves from tragedy and turmoil to a profound sense of promise.” The New York Daily News, Howard Kissel
“The play has garnered worldwide acclaim. New York was long overdue. Moss' first-class production, with its heart-stopping leads, was worth the wait […] simply magnificent.” BackStage
“‘Beast on the Moon’ was produced at the Humana Festival at the Actors Theater of Louisville in 1995, and has racked up a lot of frequent-flier miles in the ensuing years. Its prize-winning career on international stages includes productions in 17 countries and 12 languages, according to the show's publicist. In 2001, the play won five Molière awards. (That's French for Tony) […] Only a dedicated acting coach could elicit performances this relentless. Love will prevail.” The New York Times, Charles Isherwood
About the 1995 Humana Festival Production:
“A play can still triumph in purely theatrical terms, as did ‘Beast on the Moon.’ Of all the works at the Humana Festival, it was the one that seemed most completely to engage its audience, which gave it a standing ovation.” The New York Times, Ben Brantley
“Richard Kalinoski’s ‘Beast on the Moon’ took its place as one of the most beautiful, sensitive and emotionally complete dramas in the 19-year history of Actors Theatre of Louisville’s annual Humana Festival of New American Plays…the audience was hushed and spellbound until its final scene.” Louisville Courier Journal
“Staggering […] the hit of this year's Humana Fest” Miami New Times
The best of the lot- and judging from the audience reaction, last weekend’s favorite- is Richard Kalinoski’s moving ‘Beast on the Moon …’” The Dallas Morning News
“Richard Kalinoski’s ‘Beast on the Moon’ was the audience favorite of the festival and it’s easy to understand why.” San Francisco Chronicle, Steve Winn
About the 2007 Nottingham Playhouse production:
“The dialogue is what matters and when delivered as winningly, humorously and heart-breakingly as the actors do here, it makes for an enthralling evening. Perfectly paced, nicely staged and brilliantly acted, it's the rare theatrical equivalent of third bowl of porridge - just right.” BBC Nottingham, Rachel Read
“Richard Kalinoski’s small, quiet play has a big, unashamedly sentimental heart as it charts Aram and Seta's difficult marriage and explores how it is possible to live when all the rest of your family have died.” The Guardian, London
“The past finds a sort of closure, but the author’s skill has kept us on tenterhooks throughout, uncertain whether any happy outcome can be possible.” The London Times Online
“Humane, funny and touching, ‘Beast on the Moon’ presents the claims of both past and future with fairness and empathy.” The Independent, London
From Louisville Courier Journal, printed Tuesday, March 14, 1995, Louisville, Kentucky, by William Mootz, Staff Critic
Richard Kalinoski’s “Beast on the Moon” took its place as one of the most beautiful, sensitive and emotionally complete dramas in the 19-year history of Actors Theatre of Louisville’s annual Humana Festival of New American Plays at its world premiere Sunday afternoon. In a superb production poetically directed by László Marton, it held an audience hushed and spellbound until its final scene, when the Bingham Theatre erupted into a spontaneous and prolonged standing ovation.
I know. Standing ovations are mechanical and meaningless gestures these days. But not this one. “Beast on the Moon” builds with such tension and heartbreak, celebrates the gift of life with such wisdom and power, that an audience simply has no recourse but to shout its joy and gratitude. Events like this are all too rare in Louisville’s theatrical scheme of things. You can’t afford to miss it.
“Beast on the Moon” deals with the most commonplace of experiences, the coming of age of a man and a woman locked in a marriage beset with more than its share of tribulations. But Kalinoski investigates such matters with a lyrical resourcefulness that drenches his play with the light of truth. It is full of unexpected and subtle poetic imagery, beautifully captured and reflected in Marton’s direction. Wrestling with the hopes of Armenian immigrants brutally torn from their native land, the play magically embraces dreams that haunt the aspirations of all men and all races.
“Beast on the Moon” opens with a narrator, now an old man, speaking of events that changed his life and shaped his future when he was a youth in the Milwaukee of 1921. Aram Tomasian, a young man embarking on a new American career as a photographer, greets Seta, a 15-year-old, mail-order bride he has rescued from an Armenian refugee camp. It is Aram’s intention to settle down with Seta and raise a large family according to the traditions of his strict Armenian upbringing.
Aram is a strict disciplinarian, who quotes the Bible and expects Seta to live obediently by his rules. She is a free spirit who valiantly tries to heel to his commands. But Seta is unable to provide the one thing Aram most longs for, the security of a large family. She is barren, a circumstance that inevitably sows the seeds of tension and misunderstanding.
The way Aram and Seta come to bury the tragedy of their past and establish a rebuilt life on new shores lies at the heart of “Beast on the Moon.” Photography, and its ability to capture the past even as it invites the creation of new images for the future, is an ever-present metaphor. But it is Kalinoski’s gift of investing his characters with tremulous reality through ordinary dialogue and small gestures that makes his play so real and so treasurable.
There is a vibrant moment when Aram and Seta all but come to blows in an argument during which they hurl quotes from the Bible at each other to prove their opposing points of views. The scene is laced with humor and potent with heartbreak. It is also a measure of the vaunting originality that distinguishes “Beast on the Moon” as a whole.
The production flows with the inevitability and naturalness of life itself under Marton’s fluid guidance. Faran Tahir and Vilma Silva respond with performances of unflagging eloquence as Aram and Seta. Ray Fry brings a quiet urgency to the role of the narrator, and Dustin Longstreth evokes a charming spontaneity in his portrait of a teen-ager wise in the ways of adversity.
Paul Owen’s setting for “Beast on the Moon” is as plain and honest as the play, while Marcia Dixcy’s costumes have a period resonance that never calls attention to itself. The expert lighting is by T.J. Gerckens.