Write: Baha Yılmaz - Photo: Ahmet Bilal Arslan
The screen is lit. An ode begins.
Life is so wonderful, even if there is no skill in living,
The talent is in knowing who acts and who makes one act, to bloom on the screen without fading away.
As the meddah (public story teller and mimic) chanted “God is the truth my friend, God is the truth” he used to hit the floor with his baton to hold the attention of his audience. This phrase, in fact, is the opening remark of the storyteller in traditional arts. Each Ramadan, in fact, traditional arts meet language, transforming and transform into something else entirely.
It is not very clear what people that deal in this art do for the remaining 11 months, especially since this type of art is primarily seen in museumsç These arts are unfortunately becoming less widely known. Lately, however, a handful of masters have devoted themselves to this art form with a group of young artists. The artists hope to return this art to the people and for people to explore other art forms. Speaker Harun Yöntem, director Karagöz, and meddah actor Alpay Ekler are among the leading names trying to revive this form of art.
New actors and actresses educated under the name “Traditional Arts and Future Artists” practice several art forms ranging from karagöz to hokka. The most beautiful side of this concept, supported by the Ministry of Culture, is the excitement of the children who see the performances across Anatolia.
THEATER IN THE ROUND:A COMPLETELY OPEN PLAY
Theater-in-the-round is a staple of traditional theater, performed out in the open and completely improvized. The most important characteristic of the play is that it is performed on a stage completely surrounded by the audience. It is a much different experience compared to the classical perception of place in classical theater.
Gürkan Sinan is a young physics teacher and his love for traditional arts has brought him to play Kavuklu in a round theater. Sinan, age 31, has been involved in traditional arts for the last seven years. He met with Alpay Ekler, who he regards as his master, while he was training at Gösteri Sanatları Merkezi (Performing Arts Center). After the training, Master Alper found the role of Kavuklu suitable for him. According to him, the Kavuklu character has a naughty side that never knows when to stop. “It is very exciting for me to make someone else speak. It is almost like giving life to a puppet”, says Sinan when asked why he loves this work. Although he humbly does not say what he has to offer the theater, Sinan says “People are accustomed to theater-in-the-round in this geography. We have received great interest wherever we go. This encouraged us to develop this play.” Theatre-in-the-round is Sinan’s preference and is a spark of hope for the revival of this art form.
The oldest form of Turkish theater, after meddah, is puppetry. Puppets were known by many different names until the 18th century. One of the names used instead of ‘puppet’ was ‘apparition’. The word apparition caused puppets to be confused with Karagöz. In various parts of Anatolia, puppets are known as kaburcak, korçak or kavurcak, and in many places in Central Asia the puppet is still known as kolkorçak.
Deniz Karalar is one of the young representatives of puppet art today. He was born in Bulgaria in 1978 and has been involved in puppetry for the last six years. He is currently working on a puppet performance known as Ibiş, one of the traditional puppets. He received training in puppet making and performing. Karalar says that his style is inspired by traditional arts. Deniz Kralar’s favorite character is Beberuhi because he likes the character’s flamboyance. Karalar says that a good physical condition is necessary and adds that that is why he thinks that puppetry should be performed by young people.