Karagöz and Hacivat story re-animated at puppet festival
by Anadolu Agency
IZMIRMar 11, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Mar 11, 2015 12:00 am
Suat Veral, a "hayali" - a name given to those who stage Karagöz and Hacivat plays - attended İzmir International Puppet Days, and told an Anadolu Agency correspondent that the momentum of the Karagöz and Hacivat plays - traditional Turkish shadow plays - declined following the death of Mehmet Muhittin Sevilen, also known as Hayali Küçük Ali, in 1974.
According to Veral, who has been working as a hayali and producing figures for shadow plays for nearly 33 years, "Shadow play and puppetry hold an important place on the world stage. The number of people interested in these genres is increasing in parallel with the demand. Of course, our own shadow play will not be left behind." He also added that they need larger figures for shadow plays, as the theater halls are large.
Veral has written a new shadow play entitled "Karagöz at the Festival" exclusively for the İzmir International Puppet Days. The veteran hayali performs this new play with Turkey's first female hayali, Merve İken, with one meter-tall Karagöz figures. "We are performing this play with a curtain that is three meters wide and two-and-a-half meters high in a large theater hall for the first time in İzmir," Veral said, adding that people have shown great interest in their play. He stressed that this is a good way to introduce this traditional genre to young people. "Thus, Karagöz will always move forward, and never get left behind," he continued.
Highlighting the fact that they have performed only one play with bigger Karagöz figures, he said the difference between "Karagöz at the Festival" and others is that the play is performed with a more crowded cast. The play features 20 characters in total, including traditional characters such as pilavcı (rice man), tahta bacak (wooden leg), children and kantocu (singer). "The older people know these characters, but when children see them, they get very excited as they add a difference and dynamism to the play," Veral said. He added that their play also features a lax character and a group of four figures who perform horon - a traditional dance from the Black Sea Region. "We can display our own culture with one-meter figures and we want to continue to do so," he emphasized.
Stressing that the one-meter figures are handmade out of leather, Veral said, "We are producing what we feel and touch. That is what separates us from technology." Veral underscored that he is proud of İlken, as she is able to animate the heavy figures with one-and-a-half meter sticks, and added, "I believe that she will cause a stir around the genre and help our traditional art gain momentum."
Highlighting that there is no school for young people to research and learn more about Karagöz, although some show great interest in this art form, Veral said that a Karagöz Museum, which could be established by municipalities, could fill the void. He also stressed that they can perform traditional Turkish shadow plays anywhere in the world as long as people support them. "Our children and the youth will keep this tradition alive," he said, adding that the exhibition "From Master to Apprentice: Karagöz Figures," which features one-meter-tall shadow play figures, can be seen at the İzmir Painting and Sculpture Museum's Kültürpark Art Gallery during the festival. İlken herself underlined that she is proud of being a part of a shadow play production that features one meter-tall Karagöz figures. "It may not be hard to hold these heavy figures for a few minutes as a woman, but it requires great strength to hold them for the entire play. As I love my profession, I do not feel the weight anymore. All I feel is the happiness," İlken said about being a female hayali.
İlken added she receives positive feedback about her work, and expressed her happiness in being an example for all women on International Women's Day. "Today, women take part in every area of various professions. Why can't women play a child through the eyes of a mother in a Karagöz play?" she asked. The play "Karagöz at Festival," which will be performed on March 12 and March 20 at İzmir Sanat and on March 13 at the Karşıyaka Çarşı Cultural Center, opens with a conversation between Karagöz and his old friend Hacivat. Suddenly, Karagöz hears the sound of music from far away and ponders its source. He asks Hacivat, who informs him that a tent has been set up in the square and people are organizing various events to entertain themselves. Karagöz is excited to hear about the festivities and goes to the festival with Hacivat.