A cooperation of Nicosia Municipality Theatre, Genç Theatre and Aziz Nesin, Haldun Taner and Çetin Altan – well known writers in Turkey
LBT pointing the finger where it hurts most
By Heidi Trautmann
Speaking of Cabaret brings back – for many of us memories of a great film with Liza Minelli; but this is not the Cabaret I mean: during my young years political cabaret had a great potential, a stage where we could hear what nobody dared to speak out loud, and the performances with our well known and beloved cabaret artists were booked out whenever they came out in Schwabing, our Munich artists’ quarter. Art knows no borders and limitations, and we enjoyed the biting sketches of political and social events, the figures on the stages of politics and economics, and…. their abberrations.
Cabaret is a form of entertainment featuring music, comedy, song, dance, recitation or drama. It is mainly distinguished by the performance venue, such as in a restaurant, pub or nightclub with a stage for performances. Performances are usually introduced by a master of ceremonies.
LBT, our Lefkosa Belediye Tiyatrosu, has – near the end of 2012 – brought out - for the first time - a Cabaret in the way as described above. It was a hard year for many people, institutions, associations in North Cyprus and the alarming messages of disaster and chaos on many levels under governmental control were collated by Yasar Ersoy. In cooperation with Genç Theatre and the writers Aziz Nesin, Haldun Taner and Çetin Altan a collage of texts was established and brought forward in the true form of a Cabaret with biting dialogues, poetry, music and dance with the assistance of Nehir Demirel and the dramaturg Aliye Ummanel. The music was composed and played by Ersen Sururi, a wonderful musician. I am happy to see him involved with the theatre. The Cyprus donkeys representing true obedience – being blind, deaf and mute – is, as a sort of logo gracing the programme.
Arriving at the theatre early we could study the headlines of our local newspapers which were on display in the foyer of the theatre and we were thus mentally prepared for the things to come.
The stage setting, as usually well done and creating two levels, gave with simple measures the illusion of the square around the Kyrenia gate transformed into a casino and night club. The Master of Ceremony was very well played Barış Refikoğlu leading through the sequence of scenes with his thundering voice.
I had seen one of the scenes being rehearsed weeks before and I was excited to see the final version; it is hard work and requires the master hand of a choreographer such as Osman Ateş.
The most important work with choreography is the coordination among the chorus members and with the notes of the music, it is a matter of counting the steps and when the scene was on I automatically started counting the steps of the chorus. Osman Ateş who is a most expert dancer and choreographer, was with the chorus but modestly remained in the back.
One Cabaret topic was the dress code of women announced for school teachers just recently – and it appears absolutely hilarious to have such next to the existence of casinos/night clubs/brothels…or the hypocrisy of people applying their own standards of morale. Osman Alkaş in those roles of people with double standards enjoyed the part himself and Erol Refikoğlu who I think took over the role of the man of the masses, taking things as they are, Inshallah, falling asleep in the parliament, played the dumb part exquisitely. How I loved the scene with the parliament, members exchanging their colours and switching sides. Well directed and acted. Loud laughs from the audience all through the evening, especially from the photographer of Çatalköy Belediye Tiyatrosu sitting behind me who had come for the occasion.
I liked the open stage activities, the actors bringing in chairs when necessary, changing their costumes while entering the stage for a new scene, going off stage and come back by the other side, like the three women chatting away, it created tension. Addressing and ıncludıng the audience…and the acting, singing and dancing chorus members among them Özgür Oktay, Hatice Tescan, Kiymet Karabiber, Asu Demircioğlu, Zelis Şenol, Döndü Özata, Cem Aykut Umut Ersoy, Osman Ateş, Melek Gözükeles, Aytunç Sabanli, gave everything masterfully, their bodies and voices….and mimicry which I always enjoy seeing: opening their mouths wide, rolling their eyes, showing their feelings….great!
And finally Yasar Ersoy as Islam teacher, wonderful.
The Cabaret closed its doors after nearly two hours of continuous fireworks of sarcastic verses, smashing songs, building up tensions right to the end.
We should have more of that, please.
For the technical side responsible were: Stage and costumes design: Özlem Yetkili; Stage setting: Firat Eseri, Risa Şen and others.