By Heidi Trautmann
High above the blue Mediterranean Sea hovering over the Kyrenia Amphitheatre opens a door to a hidden world all in red and gold, a world for children, the only Puppet Theatre in Northern Cyprus, to open in March 2012.
I went to meet the makers and their puppets in their two roomed enterprise, Svetlana Turgut and Janna Taka, two young artists, who had decided one day to join the children’s world of fantasy and playfulness not only to make children happy but also in return to gain happiness for themselves.
We sit down in the red plushy looking chairs with the heavy red curtains drawn, excluding the outside world, with the stage in front, all designed by Janna and Svetlana and executed with the help of the mayor of Kyrenia, we sit down with all the puppets surrounding us, and we talk about their plans and about how it all came about.
“One day we decided to go into Girne, open a stand right in the middle of the Municipality Square and offer to children our services as ‘face painters’ and we did, and had a huge success, children flocked in and we had the most fantastic time.” Both Janna and Svetlana have children and still remember the times of their own childhood, and being artists, they own a natural experimental playfulness. “Next, we became known as the clowns, the fairies, to come to parties to entertain a crowd, be it with children or grownups. The logical next step was onto stage in the Cultural Centre in Kyrenia with two performances for the New Year, and the audience came from all corners of the island, Russian and Turkish children and their parents.”
Now they have arrived here with their newly established Puppet Theatre. “Our first play will be Pinocchio, or rather “Burattino” as the play is a Russian adaptation by Alexei Nikolajewitch. The original was created by Carlo Collodi in the 1880s. We had it translated into Turkish. At the moment our performances are only in Turkish and Russian but we are about to have it translated into English and in about three to four months we will be able to invite English speaking children and those who are still children at heart.”
I studied the faces of the puppets which have all been hand made by Janna and Svetlana; they are designed as hand puppets. How have they known how to make and move them, I ask them. “We have had acting and puppet show courses, we will be behind the curtain and can handle two puppets each. Believe me, it is a job for ten we are doing behind stage, doing the lighting, sounds, props, acting and so forth.
This is only the beginning of a new creative but firmly established activity, a first theatre for the children of North Cyprus, which its creators have thought of expanding once they have all four feet firmly grounded, one step after the other, as they tell me. “Taking the theatre to schools, crèches, is one idea, but also puppet shows for grownups, because there is always a child in every grownup’s heart, deep down. Don’t you agree?”
I do agree, don’t you?