Karagoz and Hacivat

Technique of Puppet Theatre Karagoz

Tuzsuz Deli Bekir

Tuzsuz Deli Bekir

Regarding presentation, the Karagoz puppet theatre stage is separated from the audience by a frame holding a sheet of any white translucent material but preferably fine Egyptian cotton. It is mounted like a painters canvas, stretched taut on a frame. The size of the screen in the past was 2 m x 2.5 m; in more recent times it was reduced to 1 m x 1.60 m. The operator stands behind the screen, holding the puppets against it and using an olive-oil lamp as a light source from behind. An oil lamp is preferable as it throws a good shadow and makes the characters flicker, this giving them a more lifelike appearance. The light is fixed behind and just below the screen. The light distance is determined by the need and curtain on which the shadow is to be thrown. The screen diffuses the light, and the light shines through the multicoloured transparent material, making the figures look like stained glass. The puppeteer holds the puppet close against the screen with rods held horizontally and stretched at right angles from the puppet. With horizontal rods held at right angles to the screen there is far less shadow on the screen, but control is limited. The Turkish puppets are worked by horizontal rods, unlike the Javanese and other Southeastern shadow puppets which are moved and supported by vertical rods. However, there are two devices which provide alternatives to the usual horizontal rods employed in Turkish shadow show. One is hayal agaci -puppet-tree-. The operator can manipulate only two figures at a time; so when there is a demand for more than two figures on stage, he uses this device. The puppet-tree is a Y-shaped rod. Y-shaped rods are stuck into the holes on the ledge at the bottom of the screen so that they stand vertically. The horizontal rods of the figures are placed in the cleft of these rods, so that when the puppeteer presses the ends of the horizontal rods against the screen with his chest or stomach, these figures stand still and do not move. Through this device a crowd scene can be easily accomplished. The second device is called by the shadow puppeteer firdondu, a -swivel-, which is designed to overcome a disadvantage presented by the horizontal rods- that is, the puppets can not be turned round to face the other way. This device is similar to that used in the Chinese shadow play. It is simply a rod wire fixed in a wooden handle, the curved end of which is inserted in small leather socket on the outer edge and at the back, in a sort of hinge attached to the figure. The puppeteer can give it a quick flip in order to make the figure face in the opposite direction. There are a few Turkish shadow puppet theatre figures fitted with this device in the Hamburg and Topkapi Palace collections, showing that it has been known by the Turks for some time. Puppets are operated on the plane of action and the length of the control rods can be adjusted to the socket of the puppets, allowing the puppets to work in the upper areas without the shadow of the operator’s hands being visible. Along the bottom edge at the back of the screen is a batten to act as a rest for the legs of puppets. Underneath this there is a horizontal ledge to put the oil lamps on. This ledge also has some holes on its surface to stick the supporting rods, the puppet-trees.

Zeybek

Zeybek

The figures are flat, clean-cut silhouettes in colour. Animal skin is used in the making of the puppets, especially that of the camel. The skin is well rubbed and soaked in a solution containing bran to remove its oil properties and to make it softer. The skin is dried under the sun during the months of July and August. It is smoothed out and treated until it is almost transparent, and it is well scraped with a piece of broken glass to remove hairs. Finally it is rubbed and polished. The outline is drawn by applying a mould or a pattern and the lines cut out with a small curved knife called nevregan. The cut-out is then stained with translucent vegetable dyes of tender blue, deep purple, leaf green, olive green, red crimson, terracotta, brown and yellow. Jointing is done with a piece of gut threaded through each of the two pieces at the point of overlap and then knotted on both sides. The action of the figures dictates their shapes. Each of them has a hole somewhere in the upper part of the body, which is reinforced by a double leather piece like a socket into which the control rod may be snugly inserted from either side. A second rod gives Karagoz his distinctive action. A good number of Turkish puppets have an articulation between head and body, which is usually the only articulation, the rest of the body below the neck being in one piece. In such puppets, the manipulation-rod hole is in the neck. In this way a figure can do a complete somersault with a twist of the rod. Apart from this, Karagoz,s arm is made up of two joints, and his headgear is attached by a loose joint at the back of the head; so with a quick flick of the puppeteers wrist, the headgear can fall back to expose Karagoz,s bald head. Karagoz is not the only figure that is manipulated by two rods. The socket of the rod is carefully placed so that the puppet will balance properly. Figures can thus make sweeping bows to the ground or incline their bodies backward to gaze at the sky.

Zenne (Old woman)

Zenne (Old woman)

The achieve magical transformation, the shadow puppet theatre uses various devices. For instance, there is a puppet with two heads, one of which is concealed behind the body. When the action calls for a figure’s head to change into a donkey’s head, by turning the rod in one complete revelation, the concealed donkey,s head takes the place of the actual head, which in turn is hidden behind the body. However, in order to change a character’s costume or strip, two separate representations of the same figure are used. Puppets range in size from 24 centimeters to over 35 centimeters in height. An average size is about 30 centimeters (12 inches). The smallest figure is a dwarf, approximately 20 centimeters in height, while the tallest is Baba Himmet, a little over 57 centimeters

*Drama at the Crossroads, By Metin And

Mozart’s Die entführung aus dem Serail was on the Shadow Play screen

Shadow play for the Goethe Theater in Bad Lauchstädt in Germany. 2004: Meray Ulgen designed figures for shadow play, I made the figures and performed for the opera “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Konstanze and Belmonte, the main characters of the opera, lost each other, when Konstanze was abducted by pirates. The opera describes Belmontes and Konstanzes meeting again in the house of Selim Bassa. In the shadowplay I tell the abducting and enslaving of Konstanze and the rescue of Belmonte. Director Fred Berndt transformed the shadowplay into a film, which was shown during the ouverture.
Some figures of Mozart’s Die entführung aus dem Serail shadow play

mozart Mozart1 Mozart2 Mozart3 Mozart4 mozartgemi1 mozartgemi2 SaraypromierPromier of Mozart’s Die entführung aus dem Serail shadow play at the Goethe Theatre in Germany 1 May 2004

The Stock Characters In Karagoz

We can not separate the performance and the characters of the shadow theater from the social context and ethos of the Ottoman Empire in which it was generated and firmly located in its context. It was a large empire spread over three continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. Its population consisted of several nationalities, religions and ethnic groups, all of which saw Istanbul as their capital, a natural centre.

Karagoz also is firmly rooted in the culture of Istanbul. Shadow theater is not expected to introduce individualized traits in its characters. They are stock types and no more. Certain definite types have come to be associated in the common mind, not only with nationalities but with occupations. For instance the Anatolian Baba Himmet is invariably a wood cutter, the Jew is dealer in secondhand goods or a moneylender, while the Laz from Black Seas is boatman or a tinsmith. There is however, a certain amount of truth in generalizing about ethnic and national traits, each being not only a cartoon symbol but also a national type. Actually, if it were possible to define a Turkish Jew at all, one could say he is penurious, thrifty, cunning and cowardly. At least, the accepted joke concerning the mythical characteristic attributed to the Turkish Jew has travelled so far long along these lines that in the average person’s mind it has become almost a label for his character. These character traits account, in a way, for a number of the speech idiosyncrasies that affect the figures dialects. Each native of each separate district has his own special version of the Turkish language, his own peculiarities in the choice of word, inflection, and diction. This serves not only to introduce the character, but also as a comic device. It also provides a main means of creating dramatic tension. For instance during conversation between characters, it results in much comedy from the misunderstandings which can arise. It is due to the respective grammatical vagaries that much of the flavor of these dialects can be captured. Among these can be cited a stubborn insistence on misplacing the negative, verb misuse-especially mistaken verb forms and confusion of tenses. In addition, interrogative sentences abound, as do inversions of sentence structure, common misuse of prepositions and repeated uses of distinctive interjections. Some types are addicted to the use of certain words, or include a number of words from their own native language which have been carried over into the dialect. Dropping entire syllables, lopping off the final syllable in multi-syllabled words; changing, adding or omitting consonants or vowels, are other devices which prevail. Some rely more on the inflection of the voice than on the choice of word. All help to reduce the dialect to a caricature.

We are comforted with three clearly defined groups:
(1)The pillars or the basic figures, those who generally headed the list of the characters and from the backbone of the plot and appear with the greatest frequency like: Karagoz and Hacivat
(2)Feminine roles, children, young girls, servants, old woman, witches and dancing girls. These characters, though frequently present, occasionally had minor parts to play. However some plays are rich in feminine roles. There are also the wives of Karagoz and Hacivat, their children and Hacivat’s brothers.
(3)Taklits, roles rich in comic value, were characters such as professionals, provincials, colonials and foreigners. There were also teratological characters such as dwarfs, stammerers, hunchbacks or mentally defectives like opium addicts and the neighborhood idiot. Many of these were secondary characters but others who were essential to the action. Their weaknesses and characteristics are stressed and stereotyped. For example the Albanian is always ignorant and boastful while the Jew, is seem to be malicious, cowardly and egoistic.

Karagoz, Zenne, Hacivat

Karagoz, Zenne, Hacivat – Made by Emin Senyer

Karagoz and Hacivat: It is always doubtful whether Karagoz and Hacivat ever really existed and, as we have already seen, there are many legends about this. Karagoz was supposed by some to be a gypsy and there are many allusions and much evidence in the plays to support this theory. Karagoz has a round face, his eye is boldly designed with a large black pupil, hence his name -Black Eye-. He has a pug nose and around thick curly black beard. His head, completely bald, sports an enormous turban which, when knocked off, suddenly expose his bald head which always provokes laughter. In all dialogue between Karagoz and Hacivat, we find Hacivat always uses flowing language full of prose rime while Karagoz uses the language of the common people. His promptness with repartee procured for him his fame and reputation. This contrasts artificiality with simplicity and is the first satire to attain these differences. This contrasting language is also noticeable in Hacivat,s erudition. He can recite famou s poems, has a vast knowledge of music, is conversant with the names of various rare spices, the terminology of gardening, many varied encyclopedic extracts, and with the etiquette of the aristocracy. This however is superficial and gives him only a scholastic type of making a living for himself and his family. Because he has no trade, he is usually unemployed and fails to provide for his family, and has enough sense to realize that to rectify this, he does not need Hacivat,s superficial knowledge. Though he is stupid and easily taken in, he is constantly able to deceive Hacivat and others.

Hacivat is reflective character with a pointed turned-up beard. Each movement is well calculated and worked out before hand. Karagoz, on the contrary is impulsive and his character is shown by his speech and behaviour. Hacivat,s reasoning limits his actions. Even though while on the screen, he makes few gestures with hands, Karagoz is the more dynamic and energetic. Where Hacivat is always ready to accept the situation and maintain the status quo and establishment, Karagoz is always eager to try out new ideas and constantly misbehaves himself.

Hacivat is always bound by the moral principles of the upper class and can easily adapt himself to these principles. He sometimes becomes instrumental in providing pleasure for the upper classes and is always worried that Karagoz,s tactlessness will spoil these pleasures. Karagoz, the traditional symbol of the -little man- , on the other hand, finds that his tactless behaviour generally upsets most intrigues. Hacivat also serves as a foil to each character, underlining their helplessness and distress. Most of these lesser characters depend upon the machination of Hacivat to provide either the needed money, job or house. He is loquacious, credulous and good natured. Usually Hacivat offers useful advice to others, aiding them in their schemes. Because of his knowledge of etiquette and language and his opportunism, he is a most desirable, like able character in the neighbourhood. He is not only the local headman but is looked upon as counsellor, especially by the neighbourhood spendthrift. When he partners Karagoz in various undertakings, he prefers merely to find the clients and share the profit. Conversely Karagoz is not respected. He is always insulted by the dandies, is a target for the anger of the opium addict a victim of the village idiot,s practical jokes and the threats of the neighbourhood drunkards.

Woman in Karagoz plays are young, middle-aged and old, flighty, quarrelsome, only just faithful and always prone to gossip. The main type is always flighty and given to intrigue. In nearly every play, this type causes a scandal in the neighbourhood. Karagoz,s wife often abuses him for not feeding her and not clothing her. As the women in Karagoz are always dubbed by male puppeteers, they speak in cracked voices. They wear a loose, sleeved, cloak-like garment called ferace, two pieces of fine muslin or tarlatan called yasmak, folded and pinned in such a way that one edge covers the mouth and lower part of nose and the other passes across the brow above the eyes, while the rest hangs behind. As the veil is very thin, the features can be quite-clearly seen. They wear a blue bonnet called hotoz, patent leather or velvet slippers on their feet and each carries an umbrella. Some wear a red ferace, a black alpaca thrown over the head and held by a pin under the chin, entirely concealing the face. Courtesans always have their breasts half or fully exposed. Some wear slipper boots of yellow Morocco leather called cedik and carry a stick in their hand. If the woman character represents a Negro slave, she wears black gloves, a red ferace, red pabuc (a strong soled shoe) and a white head band.

Drunkard, Beberuhi, Celebi

Tuzsuz Deli Bekir (Drunkard), Beberuhi, Celebi – Made by Emin Senyer

Celebi is presented in a sympathetic light. He is not caricatured and ridiculed as are so many of the other characters. Usually he is a dandified young man whose love for a courtesan or a girl of good family motivates the action, and provides the plays with plots. We notice he has the ability to charm the opposite sex. Firstly, a zampara, a gallant and a elegant dandy, he is also young, rich and a spend-thrift, who assumes a careful and rather self-conscious elegance of dress and, in the type of stock-role he plays, runs after women, being a well-versed but flighty youth. He speaks with an educated Istanbul accent, pouring out his Arabic and other learned phrases. He is dressed in European style. He wears a pince-nez, he carries a cane and sports patent leather shoes. He wears a clerical style frock-coat, which in cut, hue and the shape of the collar, resembles precisely the -stambouline- , so named from its origin in Istanbul.

Tiryaki, the opium addict, spends all his time smoking opium and sleeping in the neighbourhood coffee house. He can easily be identified by his pipe, his fan and a huge humped shoulder. He is a flippant type but always tries to look serious. He speaks like Hacivat but has a bad habit of frequently going to sleep in the middle of a conversation and snoring loudly. He is inclined to make mountains out of molehills. For mimics, the imitation of Tiryaki had been very popular. Evliya mentions the following, when he was introducing a famous mimic of his time: “His brother, not a less clever mimic, who was himself an opium addict; had the greatest success in representing their ridiculous fancies. A Tiryaki smoking, cuts his own finger, which bleeds amazingly. He bleeds so much that he is falling down. At last he is told that the bleeding will not cease till a boy shall paint with his own finger,s blood the letter Elif on his face.

Bebe Ruhi, the dwarf has an impediment in his speech and pronounces r and s as y. He asks the same questions over and over again until people become tired of listening to him. Sometimes he is a dwarf and sometimes a hunchback. When he is a dwarf he is called by such names as Beberuhi or altikulac (six-fathom), and is shown to be fidgety, talkative and extremely boastful. He often does odd jobs around the neighbourhood and is somewhat spoiled by the pity of the locals. Karagoz on many occasions, has to beat him in order to get rid of him.

Next

Hacivat

Hacivat’s opportunism is in contrast with the instinctive morality of Karagoz . The latter, like a curious but unmalicious child, does not miss a single opportunity to turn into ridicule the very things which Hacivat and company take seriously. Hacivat blunders racklessly into all the intrigues, he spoils everything he ruins all. For this reason he is not well though of by the more powerful person. Hacivat is always regarded as a nuisance and an intruder. He must suffer the disdain of celebi the sarcastic barbs of Tiryaki the malicious tricks of beberuhi and finally the death threats of Tuzsuz. Even transients in the quarter poke fun at him and take pleasure is ceaselessly insulting him, escaping as fast as their legs can carry them when his patience gives out. In short he is a figure of ridicule in his own milieu but he always has the last word and invariably winds up triumphing over all adversity. Nor does he fail to went his overfloving cup of wrath on Hacivat who bas caused him so much grief.

Hacivat

Hacivat

Here we may appropiriately ask curselves whether Hacivat and Karagoz whose characteristic traits we have established as they emerge from uheir dialogues and action symbolize certain realities. Such a wuestion can scarcely be answered in the negative. Is Hacivat then perhaps a symbol a representative of that class of dignitaries of that aristocracy of civil servants who ruled as masters thanks to the Sultan’s protection over a defenseless people, preempting for themselves the greater portion of the worldly goods of that world? Such a claim would indeed be exaggerated. It is certain however that the popular and anonymous artist who created this contrast between the two protagonists definitely had this class in mind and loosed his arrows against it through the frailties of hacivat. He who cannot beat his donkey takes it out on the saddle says the Turkish proverb. And so popular satire was obliged to content itself by making a target of Hacivat in order to attack those who were outside its direct range. But the case of Karagoz is clear beyond and doubt: he symbolizes the people in all their good humors stouthearted under hadrship sober and devout, alert to whatever is going on; a people which rather than give way to random weeping and wailing, expresses its dissatisfaction in extrovert fashion through a little tale invented by its spokesman Karagoz an anecdote full of satire and which bears every hallmark of a warning.

Karagoz

In the foregoing chapter I have touched in passing on karagoz and Hacivat, the two cronies who are the leading characters of the Turkish shadow theatre karagoz , but the main character is karagoz . Karagoz is uneducated but honest . However there are many others a whole host of characters in fact which throng this square of cloth representing a window into reality. Viewed from the manipulator’s side of the screen, these personages are merely small, flat figures made of thin, transparent pieces of leather, pierced and incisd in filigree-like detail and exquisitely colored, which hung clothesline -style on a horizontal string by their rods, await the pleasure of the showman to take their cues. However to the audience they are tiny animated creatures who walk, talk and gesticulate like real human beings, each possessing his or her own characteristic physiognomy, dress, accent, mannerisms, character traits and personality. They even have their own clearly defined name, trade and civil status. An experienced devotee of these karagoz shadow plays can easily guess what caharacter is about to appear merely by listening for the melody which is sung or played before it comes on the screen , for each has its own characteristic theme song which heralds his or her appearance. The manipilators and their assistants are unerring on this point, are skilled in preparing their public by creating atmosphere through music. This careful attention to atmosphere is all the more necessary , since the stage is almost entirely devoid of props and decorative sets.

We may well ask ourselves, however: what does this screen really repreasent, in essence? This is a question which German scholars in the field of Oryantalism have never taken up, although they have written much about karagoz and in particular, have even translated a certain number of karagoz plays.

Karagoz

Karagoz

Accordingly, I shall devote this chapter to describing something of the true structure of this little space which, small as it is, nonetheless contains a whole world of human types, all differing among themselves and extremely heterogeneous as to appearance and behavior. Thus we will assuredly gain a clearer understanding of the caharacters which comprise the karagoz theatre, and of the satirical significance of the antics with which they surround the events of their plays. Were you to ask few showman who still put on these little plays just what the screen itself depicts, they will tell you that it represents Kusteri plaza. A very fine plaza indeed, with neither square nor statue nor traffic policeman. To complete their information, they will tell you that Hacivat’s house is at the left or plaza and that of Karagoz at the right. You will never see the houses, but you take the players word for this.

However by exerting your own perspicacity you can solve the mystery for yourself. All becomes clear, this screen with its manifold characters, its atmosphere its events and its intrigues, is nothing other than one of the old mahalles (quarters) of Istanbul in days gone by. With a realism which nothing can distort, the karagoz scene reproduces the very image of the traditional mahalle as it existed up to 1908. Neither caricature nor satire can obliterate its ever recurring secular stamp.
Shadow play Karagoz Characters
I refer advisedly to the mahalle, because it represented the only true unit of social life under the Ottoman Empire. The city was never anything but an agglomeration of mahalles, or precincts, each with a life all its own. It would be necessary to have lived in that era, which after all is not so very long ago, to understand the social omnipotence of the mahalle which through its stracture, its organization and its collective conscience, regulated the life of the individual down to its smallest details. It was the mahalle which, adapting itself to the contours of the land and centering about a mosque , lent a picturesque aspect to the great city, the urban unity of which was lost amidst a multitude of tortuous byways and shadow culs de sac. In addition to its mosque, where some pious and generous donor had founded a library, the mahalle had its school, its fountain its inn and occasionally its convert; numerous cafes, a standing corps of fireman, a muhtar, who cooncerned himself with everything, its night watchman, watercarries, rich people and poor people, devout persons and libertines, decent citizens and rogues.
Shadow play Karagoz Scenarios
The mahalle was well guarded, not only by its bands of wandering dogs which barred the way even to their canine friends and relatives from neighboring quarters, and by its night watchman who sounded their passing by thumping on pavement with their staves at each step, but by a sort of collective conscience which, ever alert to what was going on, kept constant vigil over the honor and welfare of all. It was the mahalle as a whole, represented by its muhtar, which provided for orphans, endowed penniless young girls, found husbands for spinters, managed the property of windows who had no family head to lean on, and very discreetly gave relief to the indigent by soliciting aid from the wealthy. On the other hand it was the community as a whole as represented by the mahalle which waged robust warfare against breaches of the public morality. The community offered no refuge for thieves, swindlers or sharpers. Woman of dubious character were obliged to leave the community immediately under penalty of forcible deportation, together with their lovers for the night, to the nearest karakol (police station) by a carnivalesque procession composed of the most redoubtable elements of the quarter. Even the most inverterate drunkards, fearing the severity of the community conscience, renounced if only for the month of the Ramadan their habitual vice, which was generously tolerated for eleven months out of the year provided, of course, that it did not degenerate into a public scandal.

Emin Senyer

Emin Senyer was born in 1961 in Samsun city. He learned the Karagoz art from Hayali Metin Ozlen who was selected by Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture as the best Karagoz artist in 1974, and he also was pronounced as Karagoz artist by his master in the shadow play which was done in TRT televisions. He performed Karagoz art almost all around the Turkey and gave courses and seminars in universities and high schools. He performed Karagoz art in television and feature films and television advertisements. The representations were purchased by Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum (Cologne), Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Berlin), Rua Da Marionetta (Lisboa), Tartu Toy Museum (Estonia) museums.

Emin Senyer playing Karagoz

Emin Senyer playing Karagoz

He prepared Mozart’s “Die entführung aus dem Serail” as a shadow play in Germany upon the invitation of Opernhaus opera group, then these figures was displayed in the “Die Türken Kommen” exhibition which opened in Mittelrhein – Museum Koblenz between the 25 November 2006 – 18 February 2007.

He opened Karagoz figuration exhibition on May 1998 as part of Istanbul City Theatre youth days, performed Karagoz plays in Berlin Turkish Day’s Festival in 2004, Switzerland’s 23 April International Children’s Festival in 2006, in Multifestijn which was arranged in Netherland’s Utrecht city on June 2007 and in Rotterdam city on May 2008, and he attended the Shadow Plays Festival in the name of Turkey in 2005 in Patras (Greece), he also performed Karagoz plays as part of Turkish Theatre week in Switzerland’s Goteborg city on November 2009, in ZKM (Karlsruhe – Germany)which is the most important media museum of Europe, Walldorf Turkish Day’s Festival, Stuttgart 23 April Internationales Kinderfest and Ludwigshafen Theater Im Pfalzbau in 2008. He was invited to Kinderkinderfest in Hamburg on November and he performed Karagoz plays in “Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe”.

Emin Senyer

He made the puppets of shadow play name of Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde which was prepared as part of doctoral thesis in Kent University in 2004. He also made both the puppets and the consultancy of the play which name is Storia di una gabbianella e del gatto che le insegnò a volare (Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly) by Luis Sepulveda from Chili that was prepared with the Turkish shadow play technical by Riverrun Tearro (Italy) in 2009.

He made Karagoz figure making workshop in Istanbul Day’s which was arranged by Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum (Cologne) as a part of Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture in 2010.

The Swing, Made by Emin Senyer

The Swing, Made by Emin Senyer

He attended to Patthalung World Musiq & Shadow Festival which was made in Thailand’s Patthalung city between 10 – 13 February 2011 and to 6th Annual Rhythm of The Earth Festival which was made in Bangkok the capital city of Thailand between 16 – 20 February 2011.

He joined to “Theatre Summer School” as a lecturer at the Kultur University in Istanbul which is organized by International Theatre Institute and UNESCO.
Summer School Trainer Profiles – PdfSchedule of activities – Pdf

He has been still continued to his plays about Karagoz.

Arte Tv – France

South Korea EBS Tv (Culture and Art Channel)

ZDF Tv – Germany

TRT – Turkey

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Auslander, Philip. Liveness. Performance in a mediatized culture, London and New York 1999

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Bobber, Hans Leo.Turkisches Schattentheater Karagöz, Frankfurt, 1983

Choudhury, Mita. Interculturalism and Resistance in the London theater: 1660-1800, Identity, Performance, Empire., Bucknell University Press, London : Associated University Presses, Lewisburg, 2000

Ley, Graham. From mimesis to interculturalism, Readings of Theatrical Theory Before and After “Modernism”, University of Exeter Press, Exeter, 1999

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Hollege, Julie. and Tompkins, Joanne. Women’s Intercultural Performance Routledge, June, 2000

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Kudret, Cevret. Karagöz , cilt 1,2,3, 1968 Turkey

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Pavis, Patrice. Interculturalism in Contemporary Mise en Scene. The Image of India in the Mahabharata and the Indiade”, in Fischer-Lichte et al., 1990

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Heaven Gate Made by Emin Senyer

Heaven Gate Made by Emin Senyer

Hacivat (By Damian Croft)

Masallah! The strains of relentless arabesque and the smell of tobacco came drifting from the cab. The throb of the engine choked into silence.
Masallah! Came the single points of orange light from the tips of their cigarettes.
Masallah! Came the sounds of spoken Turkish that could just be heard in the hum of the London night.
Masallah! Read the beads that dangled from the rear-view mirror.
Masallah! Said the writing on the sun-visor and the decoration on the engine cowl.
Masallah! Echoed back the voices from the cab.
And then the night returned to grab the last two hours of sleep.

By the time Halil appeared next morning to unlock the grill over his shop windows, an army of supermarket trolleys had gathered at the back of the trailer and children were giving rides to each other across the broken slabs of paving outside the efendi’s shop. The lorry caused comment in the bus-queue and turned the heads of people hurrying to work. Buses were pulling round it into the oncoming traffic and the stream of cars behind had almost been brought to a halt.
Selim slept on and no-one seemed anxious to wake him. Mehmet appeared with a brush and began to sweep the pavement, then disappeared and returned a moment later with a bucket of water. The bus queue got shorter, the flow of customers to Halil efendi’s shop increased and the children outside became expectant, then impatient and then expectant again.
It was ten o’clock before the door of Selim’s cab swung open and a thin, swarthy man climbed out. He checked the strength of his legs on the ground beneath him and then crossed over to the shop and disappeared inside. He appeared again an hour later with Halil efendi and Mehmet at the entrance to the shop.
’Health to my truck! How many melons she carries! There is no truck in Turkey that travels so safely as her. How many miles from Istanbul to London and my arse is as sore as a leper’s but my truck stays fresh as the rain! Health to my truck and health to the roads she has travelled!
They walked over to the back of the trailer where the children had begun to amuse themselves with using their trolleys as ladders to scale Selim’s truck. Talip, until now unwoken by these games, had slept on, stretched across the front seats of the cab. Now he appeared and came to join the others who were watching Selim unfasten the ropes on the tarpaulin.
Seeing the first slack of rope, two of the children snatched at a corner of the sheet and were rolling it back before Halil could restrain their excitement with a cuff. Talip struggled to deter another of them from cutting the ropes with a knife, but the truth was that everybody was eager to inspect the melons, water-melons that only a few days before had been growing on the narrow strip of land which surrounds the old city walls of Istanbul. So famous is this strip of fertile soil that everybody in Istanbul can tell a fruit that’s grown there, and its fame for enormous vegetables is known through all of Turkey. And Halil was eager to test once more the reputation of the melons he had eaten as a boy.
Selim climbed on top of his load and threw one down to Halil who cut into it with a knife. Slice after slice he cut, drawing the eyes from the sockets of the children who grabbed greedily at them. Then, biting into the enormous grin-shaped slices they lapsed into satisfaction and for a short time the only sound above the noise of the traffic was the crunching of melon and the cutting of a knife. Then the spitting of pips; Tth! Tth! Tth! and the hands reached out once more.
Selim had rolled back the tarpaulin. Everyone knows how difficult it is to transport melons. How few drivers can carry their melons safely! Ah, but Selim’s melons! Not one bruise anywhere! Not a single bruise you will find on Selim’s lovely melons! What fine melons your old Selim can transport! Masallah! Selim’s melons travel well, Selim’s the man to transport melons!
’Health to your hands!’
’These melons are as bright and as beautiful as Turkey!’
’And health to old Selim Bey, that Allah may grant him the life to bring us many more melons like these!’
Their praise was written in their dripping smiles and on the sticky fingers which they wiped on each others’ backs. Selim had indeed bought them some fine melons. Quite the juiciest melons that had ever been tasted in London.
’Praise to Selim and praise to the fertile land beside the walls of old Istanbul!’
Halil had walked over to the store beside his shop and was unlocking it while the children began to gather around the trailer with cradled arms and waiting trolleys. Thwack! came the first melon, heavier than expected. Then Thwack! Thwack! as the children caught hold of the melons and began bundling them into the trolleys. Once filled they were pushed across the pavement into the store where Halil and Mehmet were already up to their knees in melons. Thwack! the melons kept coming and the sound of busy trolley wheels on the broken concrete whirred like flies through the heat of the summer morning.
Selim was keeping them busy, allowing no rest as he continued to hurl melons from the back of his truck to the children loading the trolleys. He began to sing. Turkish songs. Songs he knew so well from the videos he loved to spend money on. Beautiful Turkish music! The strumming of a saz which kept him from loneliness on those long Anatolian highways! Praise be to Allah for the saz! These melons were making him happy. How large they were and how beautifully firm. These were melons worth singing about. Not like the melons that would arrive on the boats from Italy. How could you sing about them?
Halil efendi was grinning too. Grinning at the space in his store slowly being taken by melons. This summer he would make money. This summer all the other shopkeepers on Green Lanes would be buying their melons from him and then everyone in the neighbourhood would be eating Halil efendi’s melons. Halil efendi would become known for his melons and everyone would agree they were the tastiest to be had. They would be flocking to the efendi’s shop and the efendi would sell them more of his lovely groceries. Halil efendi was going to make money this summer and the days when he could afford to retire to the shores of the Bosphorous were getting nearer with every melon. Every lovely melon. He raised one up and kissed it.
Trolley wheels humming, the young boys dashed back and forth with their loads. The brighter Selim sang, the faster he threw them melons and the more the efendi grinned, the quicker the boys loaded their trolleys. They knew that Halil was pleased and they could see their rewards grow bigger with the size of the efendi’s grin.
Talip had sloped round to the front of the truck where he leaned against the bonnet smoking. These children can’t have seen such melons before, that is why they work so hard. Melons are a pleasure in themselves. But the rewards of carrying melons like these! Even Talip agreed that these were the finest water-melons he had ever set his eyes on.

Tth! Tth! Tth! Against the orange glow of a London night. And only the occasional car.
Tth! Tth! Tth! The sound of the spitting of pips and a truck emptied of melons. Swept clean of its load, with only a black tarpaulin left heaped in the back of the trailer.
Tth! Tth! Tth! The sound of the spitting of pips against the planking in Selim’s truck. And the empty skin of a melon pushed out from under the tarpaulin. Toothmarks on an empty skin.
Tth! Tth! Tth! And the sound of bones coming back to life. Bones that were crushed by the weight of melons, and had travelled in a tangled mass. Every hole in the road from Asia to Europe had shaken this pile of bones. Bones that had rubbed together like sticks and smouldered away in pain.
But Allah has carried these bones in safety and Allah can work wonders in London. He who has lived off sand will live like a Sultan in London. And he who has lived off nothing but water-melon in the five day journey from Istanbul is likely to live like a prophet. Allah will see he survives. Allah is mending his bones right now, he can feel his life returning.
But so little sleep in the last five days lying on a mattress of skins. Eating melon for days on end becomes like eating air: there’s a dying to digest meat. And the bowels! The cursed bowels! The bowels and the bones. If only it wasn’t for the bowels and the bones!
But Allah is returning the strength to this body. Soon it will be fit to live. The cool air of the London night is already taking effect. London, where the air is clean and the exhausts are fitted with filters! The London that takes only five days to reach from Istanbul, but has taken five years to persuade Selim Bey to stash him away beneath a cargo of melons. The London where jobs can be found and everyone has work to awake to.
Still all that could be heard from the back of the truck was the sound of the spitting of pips, but around the edge of the tarpaulin the discarded skins of melons began to show, pushed out from under the sheet. The tarpaulin was changing its shape and even tried sitting upright for a while before it collapsed back into a corpse. Several times it did this, each time it managed a little longer but always it ended up sprawled in its original heap.
The smell of smoke from the kebab take-away had gone from the night air and the interval between buses had stretched to at least half an hour. This was the time of night! There was a cough from beneath the tarpaulin. The confident cough of a smoker. Then the tarpaulin swung upright and fell from the figure who with the same movement struck up a match and brought it to his face. A thick, black moustache, beautifully barbered, came into sight for an instant and then as the figure shook out the match, it vanished again to leave just the thin orange point of light from the tip of his cigarette. A beautiful black moustache and eyes to match, Hacivat looked at the night lit up by the street lamps and blessed his good fortune.
Melons, lovely melons! Melons enough to hide a man. Nobody suspects a cargo of melons. How easy it is to hide beneath their weight! How he had cursed the melon harvest in Turkey. The days he spent breaking his back in the fields. But now, how thankful he was for the melons which had carried him safely to London. How easy it is for a man to get to London hidden in a cargo of melons. How stupid are all the other Turks who cannot think up such an obvious plan. Of course nobody would expect a man to be hidden in a lorry of melons!
Hacivat was sitting smoking in the back of Selim’s truck, feeling his aching limbs.

It was two days later that the police turned up at Halil efendi’s and demanded to cut open some of the melons. Three days before, a young Turk in Manchester had been arrested on suspicion of illegal drug trafficking. There were rumours that the police suspected a link.
“But oh! How stupid!”
Halil efendi threw up his hands in horror.
“Aren’t my melons the shiniest melons in London? Who would want to stash them with drugs? Don’t you just get high on the smell, the sight, the taste, of old Halil’s most beautiful melons? And Halil doesn’t need to sell drugs to get rich; he’s going to get rich selling melons!”
“And what are they doing, searching my melons? Any such contraband that might have come with them would’ve been packed off oh! long ago – off to the towns in the Midlands!”
“But fifty melons you come and cut open! Fifty of Halil efendi’s lovely melons! Fifty of my lovely melons! And what can I do with them afterwards? No-one wants to buy water-melon examined by the police! Only Allah would know what terrible tools the police might use to cut open a water-melon!”
The whole store-room, as big as a shop, with nothing in it but water-melon stacked from the floor to the ceiling and from wall to wall and from front to back they searched; cutting melons open at random.
“Aha! And what should they find? Nothing, of course! But pips and the juice of the most juicy of juiciest water-melons! Didn’t I just tell you so? And look how it runs down your wrists, making your forearm sticky and staining you official white police shirt pink! And look how it drops off your elbows!”
“The juice of Halil efendi’s melons which drips from the elbows of constables! And not a single ounce of cocaine to bring fruit to your search. Aren’t you just ashamed at the waste?”
But Halil efendi’s rage had put an idea up his sleeve. As fast as the inspector cut open the melons, Halil efendi was carrying them over to the front of the shop and handing them out free to passers-by.
“Come and taste slices of Halil’s good nature! Slices of water-melon. Never again will you taste such beautiful melon!”
A gathering formed on the pavement as people came over to taste the melon and curiosity turned to a smacking of lips, the wiping of hands on sleeves and the sound of the spitting of pips.
“Praise to old Halil efendi! And health to his hands! For really these are the most delicious of melons.” And once again, Halil efendi was hearing his name sung in praises.
It was then that he conjured up the plan of bringing some crates of beer from the back of his shop and selling them off at cheapo prices to anyone who tasted his melons. He knew they would come back the following day and Halil efendi would once more gain their custom. Just from handing out melons.
And so the police, who had come to search for drugs, ended up causing a street-party and the man they had wished to shame, they had made the happiest man in the neighbourhood.
Praise to Halil efendi! And a cheer for the police for starting a street-party that went on all night! And no drugs either! And they hadn’t even found the old trickster who had hidden in a lorry of melons and travelled to London all the way from Istanbul. Who at this very moment was sitting in the back of the shop, smoking.

Damian Croft, London Oct. 1996

Meddah – Story Teller

In Turkey too the professional story teller the meddah is a very long standing tradition. The meddah represented many different types of people by imitating peculitarities of dialect and person. Instead of merely describing a character, he would give an impersonation, sometimes changing his head-dress to suit, and using two props a cudgel and a kerchief wrapped around his neck to produce appropritate audible and visible effects. One anecdote about theair convincing realism tells how they could depict a bridge with its vendors, toll-gate ma and all the passers by so realistically that their headers felt they were actually there on the bridge.

The meddah usually introduced their stories with couplets or proverbs saying that each story had a moral for those who understood. First they would clap their hands, saying “Hak dostum hak” (The truth, my friends, the truth). Then they would introduce various types of characters, and next recite some poetry. After this, they described the setting of their story, and then began the tale. At the end they beggad forgiveness from their audiance for any mistake they had made.

Evliya celebi, the famous seventeenth century Turkish traveller, gives a quantity of information about contemporary story tellers ( meddah )and names many of the famous meddah of his time. According to his accounts, not only in Istanbul but also in other parts of the Ottoman Empire, story telling was a popular entertainment. He describes the meddah in Bursa.

In Bursa there are seventy five coffee houses each capable of holding a thousand persons, which are frequented by the most elegant and learned of the inhabitants; and three times a day singers and dancers execute a musical concert in them like those of Huseyin Baykara. Their poets are so many Hassans, and their story tellers ( meddah ) so many Abulmaali. The one most famous for relating stories from the Hamza-nameh is Kurbani Ali, who is unique for his epoch and ?erif ?elebi enchanted his headers by those he told from the Shahnameh. Other story tellers (kissahan) Herzene Mahmud, Kara Firuz, Tireli Ali Bey reciting the tales of Abu Muslim-i Teberdar (Abu Muslim, the hatchhet bearer of Khorosan, which may be compared to the memorirs of Veysi) All coffe houses and particularly those near the great mosque, abound with man skilled in a thousand arts (Hazer-fenn), dancing and pleasure contin the whole night, and in the morning everybody goes to mosque. These coffee houses became famous only since those of Istanbul were closed by the express command of Sultan Murad IV.

The other genres of traditional performance were more or less fixed, but informal. For shadow and puppet performances, as for story tellers ( meddah ), the natural places were coffee houses.

The cudgel and the handkerchief of the story teller ( meddah ) have a different signification depending on the context in which he uses them. When he pounds his on the floor to signal the start of a performance it is simply a stick, but during the story the same action may indicate knocking on a door. When he puts his stick to his shoulder and takes aim, it becomes a shot gun. Similarly, tying his handkerchief round his neck may signify a noose of rope to hang a man, but placed on his head it is the appropriate form of headgear, while half covering his face with it indicates a veil. Wiping his face with his handkerchief may signal a short pause. There are endless variations in the way his cudgel and handkerchief are used to enhance his performance.

Some official messages were ever transmitted through the story tellers ( meddah ) who as the folloving quotation suggests were used like newsagents in the early days:

For the graver sort most coffee houses retain raccontatore or professed story teller ( meddah ), who entertrains a very attentive audiance for many hours. They relate eastern tales or sarcastic anecdotes of the time and are sometimes engaded by government to treat on politics to reconcile the people to any recent measure of their sultan or vezir. Their manner in very animated, and their recitation accompanied by much gesticulation.

Meddah

Meddah (18. Century)