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2022  N5-6(206-207)
At the end of the calendar spring, Ashgabat hosted the festival “Turkmen theater arts”. The playbill of the festival featured the performances by state theaters and artists of the State Circus.
This means that Turkmenistan continued the tradition of holding spring theatrical forums, including international ones, which are invariably one of the largest, most iconic and popular brands in the cultural life of the country. The national format of theater festivals is a distinctive feature of the last two years.
The priority goal of the festival was to familiarize Turkmen theatergoers with new trends and forms of development of the theater arts, as well as the performances by famous and young directors and conditions created in the country to keep the Turkmen theater arts in the common global cultural space. It is equally significant that the festival offered an opportunity for interaction between the Ashgabat and regional theater troupes, communication, exchange of experience, improvement of the theater culture of young theater artists and bringing them closer to the audience.
The grand opening of the theater festival traditionally took place at the central theater square of the Turkmen capital. Representatives of ten theaters and the State Circus of the country took part in the parade procession from the historical building of the Student Theater named after Mollanepes to the Main Drama Theater of Turkmenistan named after Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great. This way, the organizers symbolically emphasized one of the ideas of the art event – continuity of the traditions of theater arts.
Artists prepared an original show for this bright procession, i.e. stage miniatures that reflect the artistic credo of their theaters. One could see the characters from various plays of national and world dramatic classics, widely used in the repertoire of Turkmen theater troupes. Circus artists – acrobats and jugglers – demonstrated their skills, while actors of the Turkmen State Puppet Theater played a funny and instructive story on an old cart.
The excursion into the glorious history and present day of the national theater arts continued in the theater foyer that hosted an exhibition of portraits of prominent representatives of the Turkmen cinema and theater, numerous sketches for cinema films, theatrical costumes, scenery for performances, samples of decorative and applied arts, stage design layouts, richly illustrated publications dedicated to national culture, audio and video materials with recordings of plays by famous bakhshi musicians and individual performances.
The topic of continuity of historical currents and spiritual traditions was also reflected in the literary and musical composition presented under the arches of the theater hall. The artists praised the rich national cultural heritage in three languages – Turkmen, English and Russian.
As was noted, there are now 10 state theaters in the country, including 6 capital and four regional theaters that operate in the magnificent buildings fitted with modern equipment that allow staging performances of any technical complexity. Construction of new cultural centers for staging major theatrical performances continues. A drama theater will be soon built at the new administrative center of Akhal region, which is now under construction.
During the forum, the audience got acquainted with a number of premiere performances. The festival program included performances in different genres, topics and theatrics based on legends and parables, historical information, memories of our contemporaries. And the main characters of those performances seemed to have connected different eras, past and present.
Regardless of the form of presentation of the stage material, all productions were noted for their sincerity, deep originality and unique interpretation of images, adherence to eternal themes such as honor and duty, love and friendship, moral purity and human dignity.
It is noteworthy that the premiere performance “Gyzyl Alma” (Red Apple) by the Turkmen State Puppet Theater was the first to open the festival program. Before the start of the performance-fairy tale, young spectators were taken to the originally designed hall that was in harmony with the stage scenery, creating the effect of the Garden of Eden.
The combination of several genres in one play, from shadow theater to musical and plastic performance, as well as the use of special effects made the performance particularly spectacular. The actors not only interacted with the puppets, but also played the role of “live scenery”. The play “Red Apple” is naturally the success of director Amangul Mammetyazova, addressing not only children but also the wider audience.
The first day of the forum started with the play “The Heart Yearns for Love” by the State Russian Drama Theater named after A.S. Pushkin. The premiere aroused great interest, as the play is dedicated to the life and work of the outstanding Turkmen composer, Nury Khalmamedov, uniting all generations of theater artists.
It was for the first time that the authors of the play – theater chief director Sokhbet Serbazov, Mammedkurban Mammedkurbanov, director Bilbil Mamedov – recreated on stage the image of Khalmamedov, as well as his friends, students, many of whom became consultants in the process of creation of the play. One cannot but mention that artist Magtymguly Gurbanov, who played the role of the composer, was awarded a special prize for the best male role by the decision of the jury.
The art marathon continued with the play “Noah’s Ark”. The troupe of the National Music and Drama Theater named after Magtymguly headed by the Director, Honored Artist of Turkmenistan Aynazar Batyrov, reconstructed the plot of the ancient legend.
If your conscience is clear, if your soul is beautiful and your thoughts are unselfish, then you become happy and get an extraordinary privilege to be called a Man. This is the key message of the play. It speaks about topics that are relevant at all times: love and hate, faith and trust, kindness and friendship, mercy and compassion. The play was highly appreciated by the jury that awarded it the second place.
And the first place went to the troupe of the Main Drama Theatre that presented with great success the play “Jalaletdin Sultan – the Pride of the Fatherland” based on one of the many legends about the fate of the outstanding commander and patriot, Jalaletdin Turkmen, who went down in history as the only military leader who managed to resist Genghis Khan.
The historical drama staged by director Eziz Ishanguliyev based on the play by the People’s Writer of Turkmenistan, Govshutgeldy Danatarov, glorifies the unity of people, the heroism of Jalaletdin Turkmen in the name of protecting the Fatherland. Nothing escaped the professional eye of the jury: acting, theater set design that replicated Khorezm of the beginning of the 13th century, luxurious costumes of characters, theatrical special effects, maximum authenticity of memorable events that happened to the legendary hero.
The play “The Way of the Turkmens” by the National Drama Theater of Turkmenistan named after Alp Arslan was presented to the jury and spectators as part of the theater arts festival. The authors of the play, who won the third place, spoke about the glorious life path of the Turkmen people who have always valued the Motherland, honor, dignity and spiritual values above all else. Consisting of several independent parts interconnected by the theme of patriotism, the action of the play connects history and modernity and the life of many generations of Turkmens.
The play “The Way of the Turkmens” was staged by Honored Artist of Turkmenistan Khandurdy Berdyev and Batyr Kakabayev. Production designer Mekan Annamuradov managed to create an atmosphere of different events in the life of the Turkmen people.
The festival provided a wonderful opportunity to get acquainted with the creative search of the regional theaters that brought with them various performances to Ashgabat, mainly on historical themes.
The State Drama Theater named after Nurmuhammet Andalib of Dashoguz province presented its new play “Fire of Devotion” at the National Drama Theater named after Alp Arslan. Stage masters from the northern region took the audience to ancient times, to Amul, where skillful craftsmen once lived and worked. The music created for the play by Meylis Nuryev and sincere songs superbly performed by the actors were independent characters of the drama.
The play “Bayram Khan Turkmen” by the Saparmurat Turkmenbashi the Great State Drama Theater of Balkan province was presented on the stage of the Ashgabat Student Theater named after Mollanepes. This is a kind of dedication to the great historical figure, whose image and deeds inspire more than one generation of figures of national culture. The new production by Ovezmammed Galandarov won the warm sympathy of theatergoers. The action of the play takes place against the backdrop of scenery corresponding to the way of life of the era in which the main characters of the play lived. This helps the actors to create an original image of an outstanding historical figure and his associates.
The premiere performance “The Brave Elevates the Motherland” was presented in Ashgabat by the artists of the Seyitnazar Seydi State Music and Drama Theater of Lebap province. The script for the production on a historical theme was created by Perhat Khudayberenov and Gayyp Dzhumaev. Defense of the Motherland – a holy cause – is the main message of the stage action that glorifies courage and bravery, patriotism and humanism.
The authors of the play tried to bring its poetic language closer to the language of the epic “Gorkut Ata” and create national costumes and military armor of the actors identical to those used in ancient times. Both masters and novice artists played together. This union of experience, skill and youth made it possible to embody the continuity of the history, people’s memory and spiritual unity of generations.
The Kemine State Drama Theater of Mary province took the audience on a journey through the pages of the glorious history. The theater presented the premiere performance “Generous Turkmen” as part of the theater forum on the stage of the Ashgabat National Music and Drama Theater named after Magtymguly. The life story of Khatamtay was presented in parable about the hero of ancient folk tales who became famous for his generosity and magnanimity. The play by director Ata Gullarov is noted for attention to detail. The epic nature of the story is conveyed by the large cast involved in the play, atmospheric scenery and wonderful music. The artists created many interesting, colorful images and comical moments that were noted by the jury and audience.
Other than performances, the heads of theaters and theater figures held a working meeting on the sidelines of the forum. They discussed the development of Turkmen theater arts in the new historical era, its global trends and social role in the modern society.
The results of the festival “Turkmen theater arts” were summed up at the Main Drama Theater that hosted a solemn ceremony of awarding the winners, who were presented with memorable prizes from the organizer of the festival – the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan.
Prizes and gifts in special nominations were awarded to the best performers of male, female and children’s roles, the best script, the best musical arrangement, the best directorial and scenographic work. A number of artists were awarded incentive prizes. All participants of the festival “Turkmen theater arts”, including schoolchildren involved in the performances were awarded certificates of honor.
And the unanimous applause of the audience targeted by this wonderful festival of theater arts was the main gift for the theaters participating in the festival.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005