Accomplished playwright had Armenian connection

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The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec)

Accomplished playwright had Armenian connection:

Won 10 National Endowment for the Arts awards. Professor awarded a
Fulbright Scholarship in 1995 to teach creative writing at university
in Yerevan, Armenia

Boston Globe

The last play Barbara Bejoian wrote was about an elderly man who is
taken from his nursing home to attend what he knows will be his last
Red Sox game.

Like him, Bejoian, an accomplished playwright whose works have been
performed in the United States, Britain and Armenia, was a lifelong
Red Sox fan.

Like him, she was also looking forward to what she sensed might be
her last Red Sox game, this Sunday, against the Yankees.

Bejoian, 49, formerly of Watertown, died Saturday at her home in
Barrington, R.I., after a long battle with metastatic rectal cancer.

A fleece Red Sox blanket given to her by a godchild kept her warm
during her final illness, her husband, Newell Thomas, said Tuesday. It
will be buried with her.

Bejoian, winner of 10 National Endowment for the Arts awards,
was a professor of playwriting, English and creative writing. Her
students ranged from children whose second language was English to
undergraduates and graduate students at Brown University, New York
University, Rhode Island School of Design and Rhode Island College. One
of her plays will appear in a future anthology of Armenian writers,
to be published by Columbia University Press.

No matter what Bejoian undertook, friends said, she did it with a
zest for life, and always succeeded. “Barb was gorgeous inside and
out,” said Marjorie Hatten of Medfield, a friend since both were
12. “She would decide she was going to achieve something and, then,
reach to the top ring before figuring out how she was going to get
there.” (One time, Bejoian was determined to meet playwright Neil
Simon, and she did.)

She would always go the extra mile for a friend, Hatten said. “Barb
always brought out the best in people,” she said. “If she told you
that you were beautiful and talented, you believed it because she did.”

Bejoian was born and raised in Watertown. Her brother, Robert, still of
Watertown, said their mother made her take ballet lessons as a child,
“because with three brothers, mother didn’t want her to become a
tomboy.” Ballet is what got her started in a career in the arts,
he said.

A cheerleader for the Watertown High School football team, Bejoian was
the school’s homecoming queen in 1972 and graduated a year later. She
was chosen as one of two women in the state to attend the Girl’s
Nation Assembly in Washington, D.C.

She was also an award-winning speaker at Voice of Democracy contests –
writing her speeches and then reciting them from memory. In the early
1970s, she played lead roles in Boston Children’s Theatre productions.

She graduated from Wheaton College in 1977 with a degree in
English. She held a variety of jobs in publishing and in television
as an advertising executive. During one period, she worked for the
BBC in London while researching a play about Virginia Woolf. Her
works were later performed at the New End Theatre.

Her “true love was always playwriting,” her brother said, and she
enrolled in courses at Radcliffe College. When she decided to get a
master’s degree in fine arts, Bejoian moved from Boston to Providence
and received her degree from Brown University in 1984.

She won many awards for her plays, including several
artist-in-residence posts, the Brown University Creative Writing
Fellowship, a Rockefeller grant and the Critics Choice Award at the
Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

She won a Fulbright Scholarship in 1995 to teach creative writing at
the American University in Yerevan, Armenia, where she was accompanied
by her husband and their two sons. Her plays were performed at Yerevan
State University and at the American embassy in Armenia.

She wrote her Red Sox play three years before her diagnosis, ending it
with the old man’s words to the young man who had brought him to the
game. “Don’t worry, Tom,” the older man said. “Nobody can live forever.
We just have to make the most of every moment on Earth.”

Sunday, her family plans to attend the Red Sox-Yankees game in
her honour.