Puppetry Festival opens new dimensions for art

Puppetry Festival opens new dimensions for art

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Puppetry Festival opens new dimensions for art

This year’s Puppetry Festival is full of art, video and modern puppet performances, and will host performers from 13 countries.

The organizers of this year’s Istanbul Puppetry Festival hope to attract larger audiences to more events. The festival, which starts on May 3 and continues until May 13, will bring numerous conferences, exhibitions and workshops to the city.

“From the day it started, we have aimed to organize a blend of modern and traditional puppetry shows,” said Cengiz Özek, the festival’s founder, in an interview with Hürriyet Daily News. “Both types of shows demonstrate the stages the art of puppetry has passed through to come to the modern era.”
As a result, according to Özek, a very interesting audience for puppetry has developed. “On the one hand, there are still people who like traditional puppetry, but on the other hand, there are more and more who see puppetry as a branch of modern theater.” The audiences at the Puppetry Festival not only love puppetry, but are followers of all artistic disciplines. The festival can now address the interests of every kind of art lover, Özek said.

This schedule for this year’s Puppetry Festival is full of art, video and modern puppet performances, and will host performers from 13 countries. Shows in the festival will be held at the French Culture Center, the Italian Culture Center, Kukla İstanbul, Kozzy Culture Center, AFL Culture Center, Caddebostan Culture Center, the Kenter Theater, the Pera Museum, Actors Stage, Maya Stage, Halkalı Culture Center, Sefaköy Culture Center, Forum İstanbul, Başakşehir Culture Center and Marmara Forum. The festival will also take place on the streets of Istanbul.

In the opening show of the festival, famous Italian puppeteer Walter Broggini will perform “Solo,” a play ironically about the attempted suicide of a puppet. In the remainder of the festival’s schedule, all kinds of puppet performances can be seen: American puppetry group Company Scoot Land will perform in its modern style, and Colombia’s El Bau de la Fantasia will perform with traditional wooden puppets. Peruvian Jose Navarro will also display traditional South American motifs in his show “A la carte.”

The famous troupe Karromato from the Czech Republic, the acknowledged world capital of puppetry, will perform at the festival with a traditional “circus” show. The poetic work of the Netherlands’ Lichtbende puppetry group will also feature in the festival. The group Tandarica from Romania will perform an adaptation of Voltaire’s “Candide.” Other groups performing in the festival will include Singapore’s Mascots and Puppets Specialists, Rue Barrée from France, Chili’s Teatrapo and Spain’s Titeres Cachirulo. This year, as part of Turkey’s “Year of Chinese Culture,” the Beijing Shadow Theater will perform at the Puppetry Festival.

Different art disciplines gathered together

“Today modern theater is moving in parallel with the puppet theater,” Özek said, noting that dance, video, lighting and music all play a part in modern puppetry.

The trend in art today is to gather together different artistic disciplines, according to Özek. “And that’s what puppetry aims to do.” This tends to increase audiences and attract more dynamic, younger people to puppetry, he added. Right now, he says, puppetry art is opening new dimensions for the theater in general. The festival also includes shows that could be categorized as performance art.

“There are many ‘performance art’ shows in the festival. We could create a festival of only performance art and modern puppetry disciplines. However we should also consider what our audiences want and expect from us,” Özek said. “We need to consider different perspectives.”

In order to stimulate new beginnings on the puppetry scene in Turkey, the festival tries to use and gather together all kinds of performance techniques. “We are trying to include more art disciplines in the festival. Puppetry does not only mean a puppet hanging on strings,” Özek said, adding that there is much to discover in this art. Turkish groups in the festival will perform a range of shows, from Özek’s own traditional interpretations of Karagöz, to Semaver Kumpanya’s marionette Nasreddin Hoca, Ahşap Cerçeve’s interpretation of “Hamlet,” and Tiyatro Trup’s modern shadow puppet show exploring classical music.