Who is Hacivat and Karagöz? Turkish theater
What is Karagöz?
Karagöz is normally the name of the world-renowned and beloved Turkish shadow theater.
But first of all, Karagöz is a branch of Turkish Folk Theater. Other branches of the Turkish Folk Theater, whose roots go back to Central Asia, are the ortaoyunu, meddahlık, puppetry, village and tulûat theater.
Therefore, all of these branches have common characteristics and Karagöz is among them.
These common features are that the performances are intended to entertain and amuse, that they connect with the audience, and that there is no need for prior memorization.
In short, if we take Karagöz as an example, the performer knows the play in a nutshell, but does not memorize it, and if he wishes, he can talk to the audience and perform it freely on the screen. This phenomenon is called “tulûat” and today “improvisation”.
Karagöz is the essence of Turkish Folk (Anane) Theater and the last representative.
Karagöz ÇENGİ (Folklorist Girl) Hacivat
Karagöz is also the name of the main actor of these shows. His friend is Hacivat, as he is known.
According to the tentative information we have, it is assumed that this performance started as early as 700 years ago, but there is no information about whether these two friends were actually alive or not.
Karagöz shows include joy, poetry, music, reflection, dance, folklore, and at the end of each show, an advice is given.
Karagöz is not just a Ramadan entertainment. Curtains can be set up everywhere all the time. Karagöz is also not children’s entertainment and is for the children in all people.
Before there were cartoons, silver screen and TV, there was Karagöz and these beautiful shows entertained people of all ages for hundreds of years in Asia, Europe and Africa. After the establishment of the Republic of Turkey, it left its mark in many countries. In Greece, it continues under the name “Karaghiozis”.
In the past, coffeehouses were called “kıraathane” and they functioned as small cultural and art centers. Saz poets would come, puppet stages would be set up, meddahs would tell stories, Karagöz would play. If none of these were available, a person would read a book and the customers would listen.
Karagöz artists were highly skilled and much loved. If necessary, they could also play puppets, act as meddah or take part in a related theater performance. It was just that they all had a profession that was essential for their livelihood. That’s why they were known as Camcı İrfan, Şekerci Cemil, Kâtip Salih,….
In the Ottoman Empire, Karagöz was most often set up in Istanbul and was most often performed during Ramadan. Those who played Karagöz for the sultan in the palace were considered master artists and became famous.
Ramadan normally had a special place. Puppet, middle-play, meddah and Karagöz performances would continue throughout the month in tents, meadows, halls, large houses and coffeehouses. The Karagöz artist who contracted with a neighborhood coffeehouse had to present a different play every night. Therefore, the audience was the residents of the neighborhood.
The Karagöz artist would have assistants. The newcomer would start out with the task of carrying the materials, and over time he would rise through the ranks, learn how to play the tambourine and help the master, and eventually become a “master Karagöz artist” at a ceremony. In short, through apprenticeship, he also trained young artists in these shows.
Only with the influence of theater halls in the past, then cinemas and nowadays television, Karagöz performances have decreased and today there are only a handful of old artists left. Not enough young artists have been able to grow up.
Today’s Karagöz artists also perform puppet shows and their names are as follows:
Taceddin Diker, İhsan Dizdar, Orhan Kurt, Ünver Oral, Metin Özlen, Mustafa Mutlu.
Karagöz has unfortunately fallen into this situation because it has not been taken care of and its artists have had to keep it alive with their own means. Nevertheless, they are working successfully to keep Karagöz alive and promote it by performing at home and abroad.
Karagöz is very popular today.
In addition, it should not be forgotten that it is best and most correct to sit in front of the curtain and watch Karagöz. Watching him on television is no substitute for watching him live!
Moreover, Karagöz performances have been and continue to be in constant renewal today. Only in innovations, its foundation must not be disturbed.
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