The theatre in my opinion is a celebration, magic, extraordinary people, in which you, the audience, have the good fortune to come, see, touch the mystery of the birth of art. The Crimean Tatar Theater for us, Crimean Tatars, is also a place where you are embraced by a piercing and robust sense of belonging to the origins of native culture, language, music. I want to go to the theatre to admire, to reflect, to think about the eternal in the bustle of days, to experience catharsis through laughter and tears, to become better and spiritually cleaner. But recently, after visiting the Crimean Tatar theatre, I want only one thing, and that is to be indignant …
Do not like it – pass by, a person from outside can say. I would have done so if it was a question of another theatre. In the same way, I won’t follow yet another “wise” advice – not to make dirty linen in public. This is not about some alien “hut”, because we are talking about our cultural heritage, about our – so far the only acting – Crimean Tatar Academic Music and Drama Theater.
Each Crimean Tatar family and office discussed the painful split of the theatre staff after the departure of the previous director and permanent director of the theatre for many years Bilyal Bilyalov. For more than a year now, we have not seen on the stage many of our favourite artists, whom we miss and are waiting for their return. In the Crimean Tatar Academic Theater, new people, new performances and musical productions appeared. And at first, this process was openly pleasing and pleasantly surprising.
The theatrical event of the year can be safely called the one-person show of Elmar Ablaev “Kafesteki Uriet” – “Freedom in captivity”. The performance is a shock, and after the usual everyday comedies based on the Uzbek playwrights that the previous art director had entertained us with, this production looked like a powerful statement that fresh creative blood and energy have now joined the theatre, and now everything will be different. I also note lovely music programs, recitals, soul anniversaries, which we enjoyed visiting with the whole family. The professionalism of the current cast, the enthusiasm of new soloists and actors gave rise to the most bright hopes.
The audience had high expectations from the new theatre season, which … broke like a crystal vase on the floor – loudly and with a roar.
Anniversary as the shadow of Hamlet’s father
The new theatre season was announced as the jubilee, 30th since the revival of the Crimean Tatar theatre after deportation. Even purely hypothetically, it should have been a grand celebration. Such as to thunder on the entire peninsula, replete with posters, ringing videos on radio and television, shining with concerts and vivid performances. But no, they did not wait. Instead of the holiday, there was a government concert on duty, without a twinkle, without a soul, and, what is most offensive, without national colour.
Such events imply moderate pathos, solemnity. But there was nothing of the kind. Leading all the time confused in the script, they did not know the text and sequence of numbers. But there were endless speeches of officials and long awards, distribution of thanks in frames to musicians, dressers, wardrobes … It would be more expedient to conduct the “distribution of elephants” separately, not in a festive concert. After the intermission (no one announced how long it would last) the hall was noticeably empty – officials left it, only rare wandered spectators and theatre workers remained.
In the second part, the demonstration of excerpts from the performances that were put on the stage of the theatre in different years began. And here it is impossible to get past the directorial “find” of the anniversary concert (director – chief director Zarema Bilyalova). As a “relay stick” from the performance to the performance, either the crown or the diadem was transmitted. Crown. And why not fez, not kalpak, not kushak, not a golden cradle – Altyn Beshik, for example? Do we not have our own national symbolism, filled with meaning, tested over the centuries? Why was there a shiny trinket as a symbol of the continuity of generations of the Crimean Tatar theatre?
The audience of the anniversary concert did not know precisely when the revived theatre was opened, by whom and when it was founded, what the first production was, how many performances were played in 30 years, how many international awards were deserved … It is unlikely that the audience of this action will tell years later grandchildren about how lucky they were to get to the brilliant anniversary of the one and only Crimean Tatar Academic Music and Drama Theater.
Crimean Tatar Theater in social networks: subservience and illiteracy
The very fact that the Crimean Tatar theatre page appeared on the facebook social network is a positive change. The theatre keeps up to date, which is welcome. But those who have subscribed to this page with the hope of keeping abreast of theatrical life news, premieres and new concerts have been perplexed in recent months. Instead of theatre news, congratulations on behalf of the theater’s directorate to Crimean officials (one of the readers reasonably remarked in a comment that this directorate could do it live, with a bunch of flowers, without obsequious outpourings on the Internet), reports on participation in government concerts and dubious initiatives like urgent assignment to the theatre of the name of one of the three proposed candidates – actor Khairi Emir-zade, composer Ilyas Bakhshish and playwright Umer Ipchi.
Judging by the publications, it is facebook subscribers who must choose the name of the national theater! Doesn’t the theater management know that such serious initiatives have their own rules – scientists and specialists are invited to discuss and select candidates, round tables, scientific readings are held, the public discusses, chooses. And only then it can be brought to the court of the audience in social networks and offered to express their opinion. Can a few dozen random people in a social network determine the name that an institution of this level will bear for decades? By the way, actor Hayri Emir-zade, who today leads this poll, has been working in the theater for less than a year. How did he even get into the “top three” worthy candidates?
A separate mention is made of the philological “masterpieces” of the account manager of this page (the name of the heroine is unknown), such as “the performance will be canceled”. Is it really impossible to write in Russian just “the performance is canceled”? Crimean Tatar texts are completely impossible to read, a wild mixture of tracing paper from the Russian language and treasury.
Premieres of the anniversary season: theater of the absurd and a failed remake
By the way, the innovation of this season is the cancellation of performances. Previously, premieres had sold out at least a few hits in a row. Moreover, the season began briskly – with the musical comedy “Sevgi Ikäyesi” based on the play by Ablyaziz Veliyev directed by Elmar Ablaev. High-quality production, vivid and memorable acting images, an abundance of rooms with live folk music created good expectations from the season.
The premiere of the play “Saipsiz Adam” by the director-debutant Nabat Hasanova based on the work of the Azerbaijan playwright Feruza Mustafa assembled an almost full hall. But people left the room in disheveled feelings. “What was that?” They asked each other, not understanding what they were now witnessing.
Of course, professional directors should give an objective assessment of this performance, but even the audience far from theatrical life noticed that the production was raw and completely unprepared for the show. A comedy in the style of the theater of the absurdity was poured out onto a guest who was used to performances with everyday scenes about a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, with no warning or announcement, when a certain situation was deliberately exaggerated to such an extent that all her comic and absurdity was visible.
Let’s put the young director Hasanova like for the bold and relevant idea, the choice of the play. But for a month (as it became known, it took so much time to “prepare”) the performances are not staged. Why was the raw material allowed in the premiere, why the main director and director of the theater did not notice, did not draw conclusions, did not take action? Too many why it turns out. As a result, all subsequent shows of this premiere were canceled.
Only the spectators of the absurd performance stopped twitching their eyes when they called us to the premiere again – a remake of the classic performance “Arzy kyyz”. The new performance was called Eki Dulber Suvga Keter. Honestly, both the name and the poster remained incomprehensible, but okay, let’s call it a fresh author’s vision. The author of the play, the main director of the theater Zarema Bilyalova, tried to tell us the story of the girl Arza through modern heroes. They appear at the beginning of the play for a couple of minutes, the guy begins to tell the girl this story. And … that’s it. The second time we will see them at the end of the performance, when the ballet suddenly danced a beautiful, but modern dance. Why it was necessary to draw modernity into a classic play is unclear.
The text of the play has been changed (Yusuf Makhuldyur worked on it), it is crude for many artists. The completely taken over “pictures” from the past director of this legend, that is, the author of the play did not offer his version, he simply redid the old one. Many heroes of the famous legend, whom we loved so much from childhood, did not reach the previous performers. But willy-nilly it was necessary to compare. It turned out such an unsuccessful remake of the performance.
But if you open the theater’s page on facebook, you will find out that “the performance “Eki Dülber Suvga Keter” is recognized as the BEST”. So in capital letters is modestly written. Who recognized when he managed to be recognized, how they compared … too many questions for one article about the theatrical life of one theater.
The Crimean Tatar Academic Music and Drama Theater should cultivate love to native culture, instill a good taste, set the level to which all institutions of the Crimean Tatar culture could orient themselves. Now we are witnessing how, by its 30th anniversary, the theater is rapidly falling to the level of a provincial recreation centre – this is led by a disastrously inept personnel policy and servile servility to those in power instead of creating a centre of national culture. I believe that it is impossible to ignore the current state of affairs. We are losing our theatre, gentlemen!
Erwin OMER ASAN