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photo by Margaret Morton with Ainura Kachkynbek kyzy as Bektoro

ER TOSHTUK - Plot Summary

a magical, but humorous theatre piece about a
a journey into the underworld and out into the cosmos
based on a Kyrgyz epic

Sunday Oct 3 to Friday Oct 8, 2010
B'Art Center -- 1 Karasayeva (Druzhba) Street in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
FREE- seating limited - for reservations call 53-17-85, 53-00-92 (0772)839295

Er Toshtuk is an experimental theatre piece based on the Kyrgyz epic, featuring traditional music, as well as modern design and movement. The original theatre piece was created in rehearsals by directors Virlana Tkacz and Kenzhegul Satybaldieva in Bishkek with young artists and performed at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York, Karakol, Talas and Kara Suu in At-Bashi region to packed houses and rave reviews.


  • 1 Night near the Tree of Life Bektoto asks for someone to love. Eleman asks for one more son, his eight other sons never returned with his horses. In a dream he is offered an apple and a singular son – Toshtuk.
  • 2 Toshtuk is born and grows by the hour. Children tease him and he fights with everyone. An old lady/black bird reprimands Toshtuk and reveals the family secret about the missing brothers. Despite his pleas Toshtuk gives Eleman his spirit in a steel box and sets out to find his brothers.
  • 3 One day Toshtuk sees a great herd of horses and his missing brothers who’ve become wild. They celebrate the reunion and dance.
  • 4 On the way home Toshtuk meets Bektoro, a dark and dirty girl who turns into the stars at night. He is enchanted – she tells him that he was made for her.
  • 5 The fathers and brothers celebrate the homecoming. Toshtuk asks the father to find brides for the brothers. He tells Eleman about the dark girl and asks him to take a present to her – a black scarf. Eleman finds Bektoro, but doesn’t give her Toshtuk’s present and tries to leave. She, however, makes him give her the scarf.
  • 6 Eleman meets Agay Khan who has nine daughters and takes them home as brides for his sons, including Keznheke who will be Toshtuk’s bride. Kezheke insists that her dowry include Chalkuyruk, the magic horse. Despite her father’s opposition and she manages to get the magic horse.
  • 7 Kenzhke runs into Bektoro, who claims that Toshtuk maybe Kenzheke’s in this world, but will be hers in the next.
  • 8 Eleman and the brides make camp, near a river. Eleman see black lungs floating in the river. These turn out to be the witch Dhzelmogus. The witch only releases Eleman when he offers Toshtuk’s spirit which is hidden in the steel box.
  • 9 The brothers marry the sisters. Kenzhke finds Toshtuk, her groom, not quite what she expected. She resists him, but then asks Toshtuk to bring her the steel box with his spirit.
  • 10 Toshtuk asks Eleman for the steel box. At first his father tells him to look in a bag and a chest, then “remembers” he left it where they camped. He sends Toshtuk to get the box, where the witch is waiting. Kenzheke and Toshtuk reconcile and she gives Toshtuk her magic horse Chalkyuruk for the journey.
  • 11 During the journey horse, Chalkyuruk, suddenly speaks to the stunned Toshtuk. The horse tells Toshtuk exactly what to do. They fly to where the witch is waiting. Toshtuk does as the horse told him and grabs the steel box with his spirit. But then he forgets the steel box when he sees Bektoro. The witch Dhzelmogus then grabs the file, makes the earth split open and disappears underground. Toshtuk and Chalkyuruk fall into the Underworld.
  • 12 In the shadows of the Underworld Toshtuk meets Fast-as-the-Wind and All-Ears Mamyts – creatures who had been imprisoned, but escaped from Gogdu, the evil genie who rules the Underworld.
  • 13 Our heroes run into the witch Dhzelmogus in the Underworld and battle-dance errupts. Gogdu, the giant genie interrupts the battle of dancers. There will be a race instead. Gogdu instructs the witch to cheat – make the other rider fall asleep. The witch does so, but the Chalkuyruk, the magic horse saves the situation and they win the prize.
  • 14 And the prize... the prize is a kettle that can feed the world, according to Gogdu. The Mamyts tell Toshtuk that this killer-kettle actually eats everything and has already eaten the steel box with his spirit. It is at the bottom of a lake. The horse Chalkyuruk will battle with the kettle no one has ever defeated. He tells them that if the lake turns red it means the horse has died and jumps into the lake. Toshtuk beats the lake and morns the loss of his one true friend. But the water clears and the horse comes out with the kettle, which Toshtuk hurls onto Godgu’s city. The kettle destroys Gogdu.
  • 15 Chalkyuruk wants to go home. Toshtuk parts with the Mamyts and arrives at the Tree of Life, where a dragon plans to eat two chicks in a nest. Toshtuk saves them, so their mother Kara Kush flies Toshtuk out from the Underworld.

    This project was made possible in part with funds from the Studio Bygym, Open Society Institute (Budapest),Theatre Institute in Bishkek, Sakhna Theatre and the Yara Arts Group, a resident company of La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York.

    For more information: Er Toshtuk October 3-8, 2010 at B'Art Center in Bishkek

    For press and photographs see: Er Toshtuk March-April, 2009 at La MaMa in New York

    For information and photographs from Yara's previous work with Kyrgyz epics see:
    Janyl Myrza Returns to her Homeland August 2007
    Janyl in New York March 2007
    For pictures from Yara's research into the Celestial Mountains July 2006
    For pictures and information on Yara's workshop of Janyl Myrza in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan August, 2006
    For information on related Kyrgyz Spring in New York

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