Kazan’s stages again welcome the biennial Nauruz International Theater Festival of Turkic Peoples, which opens tomorrow, Monday, May 30 and runs through Friday, June 3. In just four days, theater troupes from across the Turkic world will perform 33 plays in 15 different languages, from Gagauz (Moldova) to Tuvan (Russia), from Khakass (Russia) to Turkmen.
Named for the Persian spring holiday that has long since been adopted by much of the Turkic world as its own, this is the festival’s tenth incarnation, and its diverse and extensive program shows that maturity. In the Turkic world, Uzbek is the only major language not represented, not counting the Uyghur delegation from Kazakhstan that had to withdraw.
With up to ten plays a day and as many as four simultaneous performances, the festival uses most of Kazan’s theatrical venues: both the primary Tatar theaters Kamal and Tinchurin, the puppet theater (Äkiyat), and both the Russian and Tatar “Theaters of the Young Viewer” (commonly, “TyuZ”), leaving untouched only the opera house and the Kachalov theater on Bauman.
There are too many performances too even hope to watch them all, but the festival provides an unparalleled chance to explore the variety of national theater traditions; in addition to the relatively familiar fare of Tatar theater (13 plays from around Tatarstan and Bashkortostan), or even Chuvash (3 plays) and Bashkir (3 plays), it also includes rarities like If the Heart Desires, performed by the Dagestan State Kumyk Theater (June 1 at 7 pm, Russian TYuZ) or, more familiar to the Anglophone world, the Khakass National Theater’s King Lear (May 31 at noon, Tinchurin).
As the theater season draws to an end, this is also the last chance to take in some of the best productions of the local companies, so attendees needn’t shy away from the local fare. Kamal is showing its medley on themes from Gaiaz Iskhaki, Puppet Wedding (June 1 at 7 pm, Kamal), a blend of several major plays by the early 20th-century reformer and author, interesting for their Western-influenced criticism of the status quo in pre-revolutionary Tatar society. Bashkortostan’s Gafuri Theater is returning to Kazan with its Şäüräkäy (June 2 at 7 pm, Kamal), a richly-costumed love story set in the Bashkir people’s nomadic past; the play was a success during the troupe’s March tour at Kamal, and it shouldn’t be missed.
In addition to the Turkic peoples taking part in the festival, this year’s program includes guest performances by Lev Dodin’s Maly Drama Theater – Theatre de l’Europe (St. Petersburg), with Chekhov’s classic Three Sisters (May 31 at 7 pm, Kamal), and Iraqi Sufi artist Ingo Taleb Rashid’s Warrior Soul (June 2 at 3 pm, Kamal), combining Japanese and German motifs.
Perhaps the most intriguing piece on the schedule is C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, performed by the City Theater of Ankara (June 3 at 1 pm, Kamal). The novelist and Christian theologian’s extended allegory of humanity’s struggle to bring about the second coming of Arslan seems an odd choice for the majority-Muslim audiences of Turkic theater, but perhaps Hollywood’s glare has rendered the allegory shallow. And, after all, arslan means “lion” in most Turkic languages.
Complete Schedule (in Russian)
from The Kazan Herald
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