- What’s On
The theme of this year’s Puppetry Festival (Kukla Festivalı), now in its 16th year, is ‘Are you into puppetry?’ This was an extremely popular theatre form in Ottoman times, giving birth to two characters who immortalised Turkish shadow play: Karagöz (‘Blackeye’) and Hacivat (‘İvaz the Pilgrim’). Karagöz and Hacivat plays were renowned for their disciplined structure and rich use of metaphor, and were especially associated with evening entertainments during Ramazan.
Since Ottoman times – and even in the 16 years that the festival has been running in Istanbul – Turkish puppetry has changed almost beyond recognition, evolving to include a wide variety of sub-genres which have taken puppetry way beyond Karagöz, Hacivat and shadow play. In the early days of the festival its director, Cengiz Özek, had to explain to his colleagues that puppets are more than mere dolls hanging from a string. Nowadays the stars of puppet theatre are often humanoid dolls, and sometimes even human beings – so much so that today even puppeteers are being asked: ‘Are you into puppetry?’
The festival will run over ten days and will feature companies from central and eastern Europe and South America, as well as a myriad award-winning Turkish companies. This year also marks a big step forward for the festival with the establishment of the Istanbul Karagöz Puppet Foundation, which will be the umbrella for the festival and the museum that houses the puppets collected by Özek from all around the world.
For a full festival programme, visit the website (see left).