By Heidi Trautmann
Professional, private and amateur theatre companies have been working hard these last months to surprise us, their audiences, adults and children alike, with new plays, mostly comedies, peppered with black humour for the World Theatre Day on March 27at free admittance.
The founder organisation of this special day explains: “The International Theatre Institute (ITI), an international non-governmental organization (NGO) was founded in Prague in 1948 by UNESCO and the international theatre community. A worldwide network, ITI aims “to promote international exchange of knowledge and practice in theatre arts (drama, dance, music theatre) in order to consolidate peace and solidarity between peoples, to deepen mutual understanding and increase creative co-operation between all people in the theatre arts and to achieve this within ITI, the member centres of the organization shall be guided by the principles of mutual respect of the national traditions of each country.”
A very proud and ambitious statement, at least the last part of it, and I seriously wish that artists of all disciplines would carry this leitmotif of mutual respect and cooperation on their banners without considering personal achievements but to fight and work for the common goal.
So, in Nicosia, my friends of the Nicosia Municipality Theatre invited to the première of Max Frisch’s comedy “the Great Fury of Philipp Hotz” which will continue to be on the programme for coming Friday and Saturday shows. The young theatre generation had the say in this performance with Aliye Ummanel as director and in the leading roles Osman Ateş and Özgür Oktay, two wonderful artists. Bariş Refikoğlu, Asu Demircioğlu, Hatice Tezcan played their parts wonderfully. The surprise was the Chorus with 10 singing dancers, all of them top artists, directed by Osman Ateş, and I wonder if it was his own group he wins so many first international prizes with. It has forever been his dream to go into musicals, he is the born ‘entertainer’and choreographer. Aliye Ummanel’s philosophy of less is more came well across, gestures, symbolic, stage mapping and set. I told Yaşar Ersoy, the grand master of the Nicosia Belediye Theatre, who sat next to me, that I liked the modern stage design - less is more, here again – and he confirmed that Özlem Yetkili is indeed a very good man.
Çatalköy Belediye had announced an entire week of theatre in the Dedeman Olive Tree Tent with Tiyatro SU’s première performance of CARLOS by Şahin Örgel who had been invited to come to Cyprus for the occasion, his first visit to the island, as he told me. The tent was full to the last seat for the première, I guess 600 people, and an atmosphere of excitement reigned among the audience. A perfect place with an astonishingly good accoustic, you could feel that people had come for having fun with their theatre. Carlos, a very funny play directed by Derman Atik - whom we know as director of many theatre plays up and down the country for more than a decade - with the most talented cast members Soner Eminağa, Haluk Ramon Serhun, Cenk Gürçağ, Ilkşen Atik, Oya Akın, Şahap Anbarjafari and Fatma Tüney, some of them with surprisingly good mimicry and body language. A charming idea was the musical interludes between the scenes, with all the cast members singing and dancing a sort of refrain summarizing the clues of the play to the music of Derman Atik’s brother Kamik Atik. My congratulations to Tiyatro SU!
I did not have the chance to see the other plays offered in this huge tent, there was a matinee show by the youngest shadow puppeteer Ahmet Özçayli, it is about high time that this old theatre art form finds more followers before it disappears, the only other puppeteer is Mehmet Ertuğ in Büyük Han in Nicosia; then I would have loved to go to the Güzelyurt Municipality City Theatre with Bekir Kara as director and his own play “Once upon a time in Cyprus”; at another occasion I had seen a play also written and directed by him and had the chance to talk to him.
New to me is the Lefkosa Arts Theatre with two plays, one by Dario Fo “The Open Couple” and another Max Frisch black comedy play “The Fireraisers”.
The Turkish Cypriot State Theatre came out with a new production “Oh Love! Oh Love!” at the newly reopened Atatürk Cultural Centre in Nicosia.
Some of the theatre groups will have guest plays on other stages, such as the theatres in Güzelyurt and at the Girne American University. What a successful theatre year! Within the last few years I have seen many new stages built, and I am waiting to see them fully used.
I could not find out what the other private theatre groups in the (for me) far away places like Famagusta had on their programme for this special theatre day, but I am sure that they also did their best.
Our thanks to all of them, the companies, their actresses and actors, for the wonderful occasion in a really concentrated form, and for their enthusiasm and passion for the theatre. Thank you!
NOTE: The photos for the two plays I saw will be in separate files 228 a and 228 b