Heidi Trautmann

706 - 12th Cyprus Theatre Festival and here: Aliye Ummanel’s new play KAYIP

02-30 September 2014


By Heidi Trautmann


The final curtain for the 12th North Cyprus Theatre Festival fell on 30 September at the theatre house of the Near East University and I am so very sorry that I have not been able to be present, although I had a press card for the plays. It is for the first time that I had to miss this wonderful event for health reasons……except one play which was part of the Festival, the play KAYIP written by Aliye Ummanel, dramaturg of the Lefkosa Belediye Tiyatrosu with performances on two days, namely 15 and 16 September at the Municipality Theatre itself in Lefkosa. The other play by the LBT, the Nicosia Municipality Theatre was KIBRIS Rumca Küstüm, Türkce Kirildim based on Faize Özdemirciler’s poems. I have seen the play with Yasar Ersoy some months before in its première, a very touching performance. http://www.heiditrautmann.com/category.aspx?CID=7723673854#.VDdTcWeSzg8


Altogether 10 plays were brought onto stage for the occasion of the festival by six theatre companies including our own LBT; the theatre companies from Turkey were – in order of their appearance: Tiyatro Adam with a play by Brecht; Oyun Atölyesi with a play by Edward Albee; Istanbul Şehir Tiyatrolari with plays by Hagop Baronyan and Fehime Seven; Talimhane Tiyatrosu with a play by Henrik Ibsen, Istanbul Devlet Tiyatrosu with plays by Hanoch Levin and W. Shakespeare; and Tiyatro AŞHK with a play by Carole Frechette.


The Festival was made possible again by the excellent organisation by the LBT equip and with the support of not only the Municipality and its new mayor Mehmet Harmanci  but also thanks to the financial support by companies and organisations who believe in  the necessity of theatre and its important influence on society, the main sponsor was Malpas Hotel, Platinum sponsor was K-Pet and the Near East University in Nicosia granted the use of the theatre house as they have done in the last years. A fine show of cooperation and support for the performing arts.


I would like to comment on the play KAYIP I have seen myself; it has touched me very much. It is a play written by our Aliye Ummanel. Some years ago I have also seen her other play ‘Passatempo’ and in a sense the two plays are connected. http://www.heiditrautmann.com/category.aspx?CID=6456767723#.VDigpmeSzg8


KAYIP – The Missing


“the man of my land was missing

we knew his location but he was missing

to call the dead whose location is known, missing,

was shameful”

Aliye Ummanel/When the Dream Falls to the Night



“My mind on that wretched Hamlet in his hand

A hollow skull.”

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar/The Dead


In KAYIP arise questions about life and death, the frailty of life, our existence, influenced or rather interrupted from the outside such as by a war; because interrupted it is, there is always a break which results in the self-inflicted loss of memory, in traumas, in all kind of emotional reactions even suppression, in a complete change of life and behaviour.  This is the situation in the new play KAYIP – The Missing: an old grandfather having closed the door to his memories; a woman who is faced all of a sudden with the question: what was your husband like….and she searches for proofs in boxes, in her brain and heart, so many things she does not remember, on which hand was his finger broken. Then, the son who grew up more or less unconcerned and lacks experience and understanding, he just lives his life when suddenly those questions that enter the scene from outside, posed by a comité of the missing persons,  are staring into his face. There is a skull, a theatre prop, he is carrying to and fro from his home and the theatre he is engaged with for the play they are rehearsing, for HAMLET, and the theatre director shakes the actors awake, the actors rehearsing the scene of Ophelia’s burial with the question: ‘What do you know about death and life? Nothing!’

…. Have you ever thought what this play is about?  Have you ever thought, what this man is talking about?  Did you understand what he’s talking about?  We are walking on bones, he says, who once were people.  “The bones which were human” he says, do you understand?  “Here’s fine revolution,” he says for these seeing eyes!  Once one sees such a thing, once one understands this, one can only look at the world differently, he says! 


There is the question all through the play, pronounced by the son: is it good to continue to keep the door open or is it better to close it and start afresh?  The missing father though is always present in the house of the family, a shadow trying to get home in their minds, to be buried in a place where they can go to and mourn.


The actors in the play were Hatice Tezcan, Erol Refikoğlu Osman Ateş, Erdoğan Kavaz and Izel Seylani; Aliye Ummanel directed the play herself and the assistants were Melek Erdil and Kymet Karabiber.  There were great moving monologue scenes by the leading roles, especially when the father shouted: ‘Where were you when we called you’.


Grandfather:  You didn’t come, you.  We waited.  The children.  They’ve gone.  They will come, they said.  The UN Peace Keeping Force will come to the village.  We sent a message.  We called them.


Introducing the burial scene of Hamlet, Aliye had in mind,  I think, to put the question up for discussion as an ever recurring question, all placed one day within the framework of a very usual day of a very common family with a young son growing up doing his step into adulthood when he learns about the frailty of existence on two levels.


And then the burial of the missing when the family finally closes the door and the woman says:  ‘I… as though I’ve walked a really long road. That road has come to an end… I am crying like this but the road is missing.’

And the son who says that he feels grown-up now, and grandfather remembers the hand which had the broken finger, and he promises his grandson to come to the play…..And they sit for a while in silence.


That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once:
how the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were
Cain's jaw-bone, that did the first murder! It
might be the pate of a politician, which this ass
now o'er-reaches; one that would circumvent God,
might it not?


Hamlet: takes the skull: Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio –a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred my imagination is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now... Not one now?                


A soft-spoken piece, showing the drama of a missing person for a family, for those who were present when they lost the missing and for the son, the after-war generation, who begins to understand that it is important to bury the dead in a place known to them.

Aliye Ummanel has picked up a theme which is of great importance to the people of Cyprus, however, a theme of worldwide concern and she uses simple words in the dialogues and monologues and leaves the great words of tragedy to Hamlet.  My sincere congratulations, Aliye Ummanel!


The play at the opening was in Turkish. Aliye Ummanel has the play translated now into English and Greek. She has plans to show the play to a non-Turkish speaking audience. I have read the play in English, a translation by Aydin Mehmet Ali, writer and expert translator of Cyprioturkish poetry, she has done a great job here.

We shall inform you when a performance in English or Greek is to be shown.





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