Ukrainian Shadow Theater Show in Turkey
A Ukrainian shadow theater company, Papasony, performed the play Roxelana for the International Theater Festival in Ankara
The audience watches the performance on a white canvas, behind which the action takes place under bright lights.
“It’s difficult because you need to learn to express ideas with your body. All our actors can control the light and music, and move from one spot to another in the right manner. Sometimes, they do it in complete darkness. Here, the accuracy of calculated movements is combined with art,” director Andriy Leliukh said.
Members of the Ukrainian shadow theater company came to the capital of Turkey to perform a play about Roxelana – a Ukrainian woman who was kidnapped and taken to Istanbul, where she became a concubine, and later – the wife of Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the First.
“We decided that we need an ideological historical figure that Ukraine, and I hope Turkey, is proud of. And we chose Roxelana. Here, she is known as Hurrem Sultan. The main thing for us was to understand what Roxelana felt, how she experienced the difficulties she faced,” Leliukh said.
It took the group one year to prepare the performance – to calculate every movement and the direction of light. The actors play several characters at once.
“Today, I am a housewife in a Ukrainian village, I am a mother, I am Roxelana’s friend, the vizier’s wife, a dancer in Suleyman’s castle, and Suleyman’s slave,” actress Olha Kostenko said.
The play focuses on Roxelana’s personal drama. How the woman managed to go from a hostage to the wife of an Osman ruler and to stay true to herself.
Papasony performed Roxelana for the International Theater Festival in Ankara. The theater’s repertoire also includes the story of Joan of Arc, puppet performances, novellas, and parables. This is the first time that the festival’s organizers invited Ukrainians to participate, but after watching the performance they wish to see their shows in Turkey more often.