The İstanbul’s International Puppet Festival, directed and led by actor and shadow player Cengiz Özek and coordinated by Stefan Carelius,  reaches its 17th edition with a program consisting of 70 performances by a total of 30 companies from 15 countries, with a special focus on Shakespeare’s 450th birthday and the 600th year of Turkish-Polish relations.

17 Istanbul International Puppet Festival

Scheduled from Oct. 16 to 26 in different locations across İstanbul, the Festival welcomes South Korea, Kazakhstan and Belarus for the first time.

Important to note that creator-artist Robin Frohardt puppet’s full length play “The Pigeoning” will get STIs European premiere as part of the festival.Set in 1980s New York, the darkly comedic puppet play revolves around a man’s obsession with cleanliness and order as he believes pigeons are plotting against him.

17 Istanbul International Puppet Festival
Cinnamon Shops.

A co-production between the Puppet and Actor Theatre Kubus from Poland and the Cengiz Özek Shadow Theatre from Turkey, “Cinnamon Shops,” a performance inspired by Polish writer Bruno Schulz’s collection of short stories of the same name, will get its world premiere at the festival to celebrate the 600th year of Turkish-Polish diplomatic relations. The performance will be staged six times free of charge. The festival will also celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday with a series of film screenings.

17 Istanbul International Puppet Festival
The Bag Lady Theater.

Three Spanish companies will present performances on the themes of body and puppetry in a special program that portrays the harmony between dance and puppetry: The Bag Lady Theater, Zero en Conducta and El patio.

17 Istanbul International Puppet Festival
Zero en Conducta.

Little puppet master Racka Albary Sunarya, who is 10 years old, from the Indonesian city of Bandung, will perform a traditional West Javanese puppet show, based on old West Javanese stories, abroad for the first time at the festival.

17 Istanbul International Puppet Festival
El Patio.

Here are some words from Cengiz Özek about the Festival:

Answers about life are becoming increasingly interesting and incredible in this day and age of outstanding developments in science and technology. One theory suggests that consciousness may not only be a characteristic of living organisms, but also of things such as stones, wind and rain. On the other hand, as much as science is pushing the boundaries, I believe that the answers it gives are not as interesting as the answers of art. Take Pinocchio for example; mankind has imagined a wooden puppet trying to have a soul, a consciousness. What we are trying to achieve for the last 17 years is actually not so different. On one hand we are picking up the fruits of our effort to popularize the art of puppetry in our country, and on the other hand we are offering the latest works of the most prestigious troupes of the world to our audiences. The Istanbul International Puppet Festival, we are proud to say, is one of the first events for a lot of artist to showcase their plays for the first time. This year, in October for the first time instead of May, our festival invites you to relive the joy of watching the best puppeteers in the world once again. Really though, aren’t you into puppetry?

For further information and festival schedule, click here.