|Poster from Tehran Workshops, November 2015|
Part One of my Journey - Iran and Turkey
If I had to mention that this trip around the planet was the most inspiring and productive journey I have ever taken, you'd say "But you say that every time you travel, which is too often!". Well it's true in a way, but my adventure which took me to Israel, Iran, Turkey, France, Germany, England and Northern Ireland was mind-blowing to say the least. I was invited to participate in the 22nd International Theatre Festival for Young People in Hamedan in early October. What struck me the most about being in Iran, especially after the warnings I had received about the dangers of Iran by people in the west, was the hospitality and friendliness of people I came across throughout the country. During the Hamedan festival I presented workshops for actors, teachers and academics, using my time-honoured technique of paper performance. After the festival, I was invited to conduct another workshop and lecture at The Actors Centre in Tehran. The main aim of the journey was to complete the filming of the stories for my documentary film 'The Puppet and The Power', after two-years of shooting around the world.
Karagöz (meaning blackeye in Turkish) and Hacivat (shortened in time from "Hacı İvaz" meaning "İvaz the Pilgrim", and also sometimes written as Hacivad) are the lead characters of the traditional Turkish shadow play, popularized during the Ottoman period and then spread to most nation states that comprised the Ottoman Empire and most prominently in Turkey and Greece.
In Bursa we first visited the Karagöz Museum and soon after met up with an old friend, Haluk Yuce, who is a Karagöz master from Ankara. I interviewed him at the famous tomb of Karagöz, across the road from the museum. He revealed some secrets of the 'black-eyed hunchback' which I had never previously discovered. The purpose for the interview and coverage of Karagöz, was that you can never really touch on the social and political aspects of traditional Middle-Eastern and European puppetry traditions, without discovering all the hidden secrets in the entire family, which extends from Petrouchka in Russia to Aragoz in the Middle East.
Earlier in Hamadan I had also interviewed another friend and Russian 'Petrouchka' master, Alexander Gref of the Vagrant Puppet Booth from Moscow. I had already filmed Alexander'sVertep performance in Charleville-Mézières, France last November. Vertep is a portable puppet theatre predominantly from Ukraine and Russia, which presents the nativity scene and other mystery plays. This year I had the privilege of shooting Alexander's performance of the popular Russian hero, 'Petrouchka' the stock character of 17th century Russian folk puppetry, which Alexander performed in the streets of Hamadan.
[To view the original Blog in Puppetry Films, click here!]
To be continued in Part Two ....