Metin Özlen, 80, said he learned the shadow play at the age of four from stories his grandfather told him. He later became interested in production techniques and created his first figures from cardboard.
Continuing his profession as an amateur, Özlen won first place in the First National Karagöz competition in 1976 and started his professional career the same year.
He said Karagöz and Hacivat is a play with many stages, adding those who want to revive it should write a new play from scratch.
“Some writers try to adapt the old plays to the new ones, but the result is no more than childish entertainment,” Özlen said.
“If we’re going to preserve Karagoz and Hacivat, we should preserve its origins. We should stage Karagöz and Hacivat in public halls allocated by the municipality or the state, not in the streets or in coffeehouses. We should also distinguish the other professional artists.”
Özlen said Karagöz and Hacivat is a play with traditional Turkish music.
“It is folk culture, a public epic. It includes imagination and painting. Karagoz and Hacivat is a national art that has great value in the Turkish nation,” he added.
Özlen said he is also willing to share his experiences with young people.
The creator of shadow plays from the centuries-old stories Layla and Majnun and Farhad and Shirin, Özlen was declared a Living Human Treasure in 2008 by Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Puppets of Karagöz and Hacivat are manipulated by one lead artist.
Traditional Turkish shadow theater is one of the oldest forms of Turkish art.
Hurriyet Daily News