Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Play: Ashura

Directed by Mustafa and Övül Avkıran, Ashura is a kind of play/performance offering condolence to the cultures lost on the lands of Anatolia. This one-hour stage performance combines theatre and music, through songs sung in various languages. Ashura is a painful tale of how souls get barren in time.

Human beings of bone and flesh, no different than you and I, have their destiny shaped by forced migration, pressure and genocides, one moment, they land on the edge of water, a moment later they find themselves on top of a mountain, like migrating birds. They go on singing their songs despite everything, but unavoidably, their voices sound bitterer every time they sing.
I don’t have much space, so I will just mention a couple of critical points about this striking performance.
In order to emphasize the main dramatic tension in the play, which is gradual decrease, the ratio of the languages spoken in the country to the total population for the period of 1927-65 according to census data is reflected onto the backdrop. Although the numbers serve a function for the main idea of the play, one cannot stop thinking that it would be better to stress the story itself, and the theatrical and performative expression while reflecting the tragedies of the past.
The second point of criticism is for the subtitles of the songs. Although they are sung in many different languages, only the Turkish translations are reflected on the screen. With today’s technology, it would not be so difficult to have Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Ladino and Kurdish lyrics in addition to Turkish translations. I think it is our right to expect the presence of such a detail from a performance that defends living together in harmony (symbolized by the dish ashura).
Translated by Ahu Sıla Bayer
June 8, 2007

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