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On Wednesday March 28th, 2007 the Columbia University School of the Arts Theatre Division presented Kyrgyz Epic Theatre with Sakhna Theatre of Bishkek in Central Asia and Yara Arts Group, a resident company of La MaMa, presenting live excerpts from their performances of Kyrgyz epics at Columbia's Shapiro Theatre on 115th St. Columbia's Nicky Wolcz opened by event by introducing Yara's director Virlana Tkacz who sopke about Kyrgyz oral tradtiona, epics and showed slides of Kyrgyzstan taken by photographer Margaret Morton during Yara's research trip last summer. Then she spoke about Janyl the theatre piece Yara had co-created with Sakhna Theatre based on a Kyrgyz epic. She showed slides from the production and related the story of the woman warrior. The the actors of Yara and Sakhna performed two excerpts from the show that had just performed at La MaMa. A brief musical interlude followed with Omurzak Kaiypov performing excerpt from several Kyrgyz epics. Asylbek Nusridinov accompanied him on tradtional instrumnets. Nurlan Asandekov, the director of Sakhna spoke about his theatre and the reasons they first started staging Kyrgyz epics as nomadic theatre. The actors of Sakhna then performed an excerpt from their first piece Testament - Kerez which will perform at La MaMa this week.

SAKHNA THEATER, founded by Nurlan Asanbekov in 2002, is dedicated to reviving the Kyrgyz epics as Nomadic Theatre. The company's first show Testament - Kerez was based on an epic in which a hunter thoughtlessly slaughters a herd of wild goats and is then led to his death by the mythical Mother Goat. The Kyrgyz "dastanchi," or epic teller propels the narrative while the actors immersed themselves in a meditative state to connect with the ancient traditions. Testament - Kerez received critical acclaim and won the main prize at Bishkek's "Art-Ordo" International Theatre Festival. Kurmanbek (2004) was a about a warrior who overthrows a tyrannical oppressor and Maktym Dastan (2005), was an epic a love story. Most recently, the group collaborated with the Yara Arts Group on Janyl, based a 17 th century Kyrgyz epic about at woman warrior which performed at La MaMa March 9-25.

YARA ARTS GROUP brings together drama, poetry, song, myth and movement to create original pieces that explore timely issues rooted in the East. Since its founding in 1990, Yara has created eighteen original theatre pieces. Yara Arts Group is a resident company of La MaMa E.T.C.

Janyl photo by Jonathan Slaff, all rights reserved.
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