Gabriel Sundukian is regarded as the founder of modern Armenian drama. Born in Tiflis on June 29, 1825, he learned both classical and modern Armenian, French, Italian and
Russian, and trained at the University of St. Petersburg (1846-50) as an official translator for the Transcaucasian viceroyalty. While in St. Petersburg, Sundukian majored
in Arabic, Turkish and Persian and wrote a dissertation on the principles of Persian versification. He also read widely in the works of Shakespeare, Schiller, and Hugo. He
returned to Tiflis where he entered the civil service; he would spend the rest of his life there, with the exception of 1854-58 when he was banished to Derbend (Dagestan, Russia).
In 1863 an Armenian theatre company opened in Tiflis where Sundukianís first play, Sneezing at Nightís Good Luck, was staged. In subsequent years a series of plays treating
middle-class morality, marriage issues, and the impact of capitalism on personal relationships gained him a popular following to such an extent that he was often given standing
ovations and carried home from the theatre on the shoulders of his fans. His play Pepo (1871), about a fisherman contending with changing business practices, is perhaps the most
enduringly popular play in Armenian drama, and was made into the first Armenian talkie in 1935, directed by Hamo Beknazaryan. Sundukian worked as a dramatist until his death
at the age of 85; just a few days before he died, he was correcting the proofs of a new comedy. Eleven years later, in 1922, the Armenian State Theatre in Yerevan was named
the Sundukian Theatre in his honor.
SNEEZING AT NIGHTíS GOOD LUCK (Gisheruan sabre kher e), 1863
QUANDARY (Khatabala), 1866
OSKAN PETROVICH IN THE AFTERLIFE (Oskan Petrovich en kinkume), 1866
ET CETERA OR THE NEW DIOGENES (Ev ayln kam nor Diogenese), 1869
RUINED FAMILY (Kanduats ochakhe), 1873
SPOUSES (Amusinner), 1893
BATH BAG (Baghnesi bokhcha), 1907
LOVE AND LIBERTY (Ser ew azatutiwn), 1910
PEPO 1935, Haykino, comedy (based on G. Sundukian’s play of the same name), 88min. (2442m), b/w, the first screening – 15.06.1935. Scr./Dir. H. Beknazaryan, co-Dir. A.Gulakyan. This is the first Armenian sound film.
KHATABALA 1971, Hayfilm Studio, comedy based on G.Sundukian’s play of the same name, 69min. (1880m), color. Scr. A. Ayvazyan, co-Scr. Yu. Yerznkyan, Dir. Yu. Yerznkyan.
A HUMBLE MAN (Hamest Marde) 1981, “Yerevan” TV-film Studio, comedy, 37min., 1030m, color. Scr. V.Balayan, Dir. K. Messian, TV version of the play of the State Theatre after Sundukian, which was awarded a State Premium of Armenia.