ArmInfo’s interview with Narek Duryan, well-known Armenian actor and director
by Karina Manukyan
Your performances traditionally attract a lot of spectators. I can’t help asking: what do contemporary spectators need today? The general idea is that spectators are reluctant to go to the theater if tragedies are on.
Today people want to have fun and I can understand them. Life is getting complicated, not only in Armenia. If a spectator pays, he/she wants to think of nothing. We have not become more stupid. We have been made stupid. These are different things.
The paradox is that the Soviet Union wanted to make us mutton-heads but failed and the West reached the target. The West has smartly led us to the situation where we don’t want to receive any serious information. Whenever I look at my library, it strikes fear into me. How could I read that all?! How could we read that? Sometimes I take a book, by Balzac, for instance, and I am unable to read even three sentences… Certainly, the social situation also matters. When the fridge is empty, it is senseless to speak of Macbeth.
You say that the West has made people mutton-heads. What about the values such as freedom or democracy?
The freedom we dream of is anarchy. We cannot say that today Armenia lacks freedom. For instance, we can scold the president and the ministers on TV and express our protest in the streets… It’s not about that. It’s about whether we can be free or not. I think that not every nation is created to be free and not every nation is created to live in democracy.
I believe in intellectual race difference among nations. I am not a racist and let the pseudo-brain boxes not attack me now. I believe that like Jews, Armenians are a smart nation, but I am not convinced that we were created for freedom. Freedom is a conventional phenomenon.
We’d better have monarchy. Democracy is not our game. We’d better have a king and know precisely what his children and relatives are meant to possess. They would own 50%, and people would have the other 50%. But what do we see today? Everybody is eager to have power and money.
Do you share the opinion that theater should give a commercial product, first of all?
Of course, I do. There is art for art’s sake and this is where the state should give a hand. Parajanov cannot exist without the state’s support.
What about the youth? It is not easy for young actors and directors to make their first steps without the support of philanthropists or the state.
I am especially upset at the situation that has arisen after the poster advertisements became on a paid basis. I see poster pillars all over the city. Each millimeter of them costs some 40-100 thsd AMD monthly. How can the youth get such money?! The state should provide them with free pillars; otherwise they will be unable to announce their performances. Certainly, the Internet creates big opportunities for promotion, but it is not enough.
I should say that I attentively follow the cultural life of Yerevan and attend the performances of young directors and actors. As a rule, these performances have a very short life – 2 or 3 days, and this also has different reasons. But it's nice to see that some attempts are being made at least. This will by all means give a good result.
How do you think the men of culture should display their civil stance and express their protest?
It depends. I have always been against actors’ involvement in the politics. Today I can support the opposition, for example, but tomorrow the opposition may come to power and then I will be the jester of the king, not a king of jesters. Actors, therefore, must always support the opposition. As a citizen, I have my own stance and it is nobody's business.
When you think of Armenia’s future, what are you concerned about most of all?
I am afraid of war. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev is crack-brained. He has an awful cult of self-admiration. I hope there are smart people among Azeris, who realize that war makes no sense.
I should confess that I am awfully afraid of death. I am afraid of oldness, which is already knocking at my door. I love life so much! I enjoy life! I am fond of delicious food, I am fond everything nice and it just blows my mind to imagine that I will end up in concrete.
Many are arguing about what Armenia should choose – European integration or the Customs Union. Have you thought about that?
We, Armenians, want to be loved, to be defended without giving anything in exchange. Things do not just happen. There is nothing unilateral even between a husband and a wife, parents and kids.
I don’t believe in Europe. It was not thanks to Europe that Soviet Armenia existed. But it was due to Europe that Eastern Armenia disappeared. Who will defend us? Will the Portuguese defend our border against Turks? They won’t. Russians will.
I am not a politician. I am not a policymaker. But I lived in Europe for 30 years and I am perfectly aware of European psychology. Europe dismays me today by its talk about gays… I am a man of art and I can quietly perceive things but they should not make me think that this is normal. That’s brainwashing. This is why I have left France for Armenia.
We are a small country, and half of those living here are nationalists, whose behavior trenches on comedy. To avoid this, we should have taken measures long ago. It's late now. What we should do now is play the harlot. Moreover, we should be courtesans, not just a hoe. Roughly speaking, we should sell ourselves at a high price.
The thing is that we seem to have trouble selling ourselves at a high price.
We are bound to be successful. Today we can sell our geographic position. The geopolitical situation in the world shows that we have become an important strategic point both Europe and Russia are aiming at.