Nazarbayev’s Kazakh story brings nationalism, patriotism to theatre
Culture and History, Kazakhstan, Politics and SocietyNo Comment
“On stage, the leader of the nation treks into a nighttime magical forest and begins talking to the trees, which turn into his opponents.” (Associated Press)
On November 24th, a new play proud of autonomy and self-government premiered at Astana’s Palace of Peace, in Kazakhstan. Associated Press describes the play as “…the latest example of the mythologization of the man…”.
“Teren Tamyrlar” (“Deep roots”), written by Playwrite Erkin Juasbek and directed by Nurlan Jumaniyazov, is the new feature presentation that tells the story of 71-year-old Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Through theatrics, the story of how — for the past two decades — the leader has risen and developed a nationalized Kazakhstan independent from the former Soviet Union, is told. This is the first time that the Kazakh head of state has appeared in a theater play as a character.
A press release by the National Ministry of Culture, about the play, says:
“Our goal is to communicate to the audience the role of the head of state in the development of Kazakhstan’s independence”.
Kazakhstan Today explains the purpose of the play:
“… to convey to the viewer’s head of state role in the making and strengthen the independence of Kazakhstan.”
Ferghana Information Agency explains the plot of the story:
“… an old forester cherishes trees in a forest near Astana, treating each plant as a “human being”. Concerned with the conditions of forestry in the country, president Nazarbaev visits him and engages in a conversation. Then forester suggests that the president should come and visit the forest during the night, and Nazarbaev agrees.”
This November premier is not the first cinematic-type performance to portray and recollect the leader’s life. In April 2011, Director Rustem Abdrashov’s movie “The Sky of My Childhood” about the childhood of President Nazarbayev, premiered in Almaty.
This is also not the first time “Deep Roots” has been brought to the public. On July 2nd 2011, the play was premiered at Astana’s Bayseitova Opera and Ballet Theatre. In June, Eurasianet.org explained what was to be anticipated from the play:
“…promises to offer a whimsical view of the life of Nazarbayev, who rose from a poor rural background and an early career as a steelworker to become the strongman president of Kazakhstan, which incidentally marks its 20th anniversary of independence this year.”
Eurasianet.org continued with a great explanation of “Deep Roots”:
“The president goes there ["a forest near Astana – the new capital that is Nazarbayev’s brainchild"] to admire the view and meets Zhaynak, an elderly man of the forest. Zhaynak, who “believes that ‘a forest is also like a man,’ and to learn its secrets you have to be in the forest at night,” urges Nazarbayev to return after dark, which – of course – he does.”
“Intriguingly, there he meets members of the opposition (which he rarely does in real life) and “new Kazakhs from modern-day society,” Zhuasbek explained, leaving us guessing until the premiere whether they’ll include figures such as murdered opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbayev, Nazarbayev’s estranged former son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev, or London-based oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov.”
If you’re in Astana, and have a chance to check out “Deep Roots” – share your reviews with neweurasia! And if you are elsewhere in the world, and have a chance to check out the YouTube video of the performance – let neweurasia know your thoughts of this portrayal of President Nazarbayev’s story.