In Turkish, Zıll-i Hayal means ‘a shadow of a dream’. This poetic expression, which is a borrowing from Arabic, is sometimes used to describe traditional shadow theatre, but most Turks know it under the name of Karagöz. The art of shadow theatre has travelled to our country along the trading routes from the Far East, evolving and changing on the way.
Karagöz appeared literally at my doorstep in Istanbul several years ago – it turned out my next door neighbour was Tacettin Diker (also known under the name of Taci Baba), who is now the oldest shadow theatre master in Turkey. He enthralled me with his energy and enthusiasm for this art, and has devoted me plenty of time teaching its arcana. You can see him in this picture – it is the gentleman on the right side, the one wearing glasses.
Shadow theatre is still travelling and discovering new lands. For example, I have brought my tools and materials to Poland, where I currently live and work. Most of my figures have been born here – but they speak Turkish and are dressed in old-fashioned attires. They spend most of their time in my Warsaw flat listening to Polish radio and welcoming new characters that I make , but when the stage is lit, they walk the streets of Turkish towns, joke or argue with their friends and family, fall in love, dance, or simply try to earn their living. They speak a language that hardly any European knows, but I hope foreign audience can understand the emotions of these stories and enjoy the dreamlike world of colours, lights, shadows and music. Anyway, this is the world I would like to invite you to.