Theatre comes to town, with a deeper message for the young audience
Osh September 30th – With the elections pre-occupying politicians and adults all over Kyrgyzstan, children become even more invisible. For those living in the south of the Republic – Osh and Jalal-Abad Province, which suffered from tragic events three months ago, the situation is even worse. Doctors, teachers and psychologists are doing their best to help, but many children are still struggling to cope with the memories of the violent attacks they witnessed.
The last day of September provided a welcome distraction for more than 3,000 children in 12 schools of Osh-town. They went to the theatre to see a performance staged by the Children’s Studio of the Bishkek Theatre “Tunguch” and the People’s Artist Jamal Seidakmatova. For the young audience, it had been a long time since they had enjoyed the magic of watching a live performance. This time the play had an underlying message, the actors portrayed the ancient wisdom of the importance of friendship and mutual respect. The performance focused on the legend of “ Mother-Deer” who saved life on Earth. It is a story from the novel “White Ship” by the well known Kyrgyz author, Chinguiz Aitmatov. The legend tells how Mother-Deer saved people in ancient times and then left them because they resorted to violence and enmity. At the end everybody in the theatre hall asks Mother Deer to return, and some children were moved to tears when “Mother-Deer” forgave people and agreed to return.
It was also a chance for children to speak out and share their emotions and feelings. After the performance, a microphone was offered to children in the audience. Mirlan who arrived in a wheel chair was the first to speak. He wanted to stand up and his friends rushed to help him, “I worried when rats wanted to kill people and I am so happy that Mother Deer came to help and stayed with them”.
A teacher, Olima Nizamiddinova was also moved by the show. She used to work at Tolstoy School which was ruined during the recent violence. Now tents provided by UNICEF are her classroom. She said: “When at school I told children that we would go to the theatre, some children worried that it would be a boring meeting like many of those organised by political parties now. But it turned out to be such a joy. Children did not only watch the performance, they could also speak in the microphone, dance together with the characters and, in short, really enjoyed the time in its entirety”. Some of the children expressed their wish that one day they would also act on the stage.
The discussion did not stop when the children left the theatre building. The benches near the Osh National Drama Theatre filled up with children basking in the autumn sun. Some discussed the deeper meaning of the legend and linked it to their own lives. “This theatre performance reminded me of our reality. In our history there have been many wars. And only after the wars had devastated the people, did they realize that friendship was the most important thing, and only friendship and respect could save us,’ commented Talant-kyzy-Alina, who is twelve . The boys imitated the voice of Mother Dear and Witch. Some tried to show rats in their evil dance. In one way or another, children concluded that friendship and peace is the pivot for the lives of people.
After the performance Arnal Toktorbaeva (12) rushed home to share her emotions with her mother and grandparents. Her grandfather Sagyn and her mother Kanyshay recollected that in former times, they often went to the theatre and wished that their children could have also enjoyed the art of drama which also teaches young people vital virtues and wisdom.
Another 3, 000 children from Osh and Jalal-Abad, will enjoy the performance in the coming week. This initiative is supported by UNICEF as part of the National Initiative “Welcome to school” which aims to bring all children in the affected areas to school and help them to return to normalcy and support the communities in restoring peace and friendship. Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic, underlined importance of art for children. He said, “UNICEF highly appreciates the work of artists who give joy to children and promote peace and friendship in Kyrgyzstan and especially in the areas which suffered recently from violence. We strongly believe in a mighty power of art which helps children to overcome their psychological and emotional stress. The theatre performance “Please Come Back, Mother-Deer” is not only a wonderful show. It is a performance where actors are also children. This increases the healing power of art for young viewers”.