Lost Tradition of Balkanian Drama of the Ottoman Era


  • Shahab Yar Khan Prof. Dr., Department of English, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina


Shadow theater, drama, oriental drama


This article aims at highlighting the lost tradition of Balkanian drama of the Ottoman era, dispelling the misconception that the shadow theater was mainly confined to ‘seraglio’ where the ladies of the court and harem could watch it on special occasions. The highly evolved form of oriental shadow theater kept on dominating public life for centuries since the invasion of the Ottomans in the 16th century. In the Balkans, back in Istanbul as well, there are reports of these shows being held in coffee houses where special staging areas were dedicated to the performance on regular basis. The thrill of the shadow theater has captured all rank and file. Dragoslav Antinjovic, the most celebrated critic of the shadow theater in the Balkans, shared that these shows were performed in all the major countries of the Medieval South East Europe (the Ottoman Rumeli) all the way from Greece to Bosnia Herzegovina. There is a need to look for the causes of its failure in emerging in to a profitable product of a systematic institution and the reasons for its survival as an expression of Balkan style.


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