Shadow Series

Moderator Hakan Altun

10/11th Contributors Ali Köken & Erhan Köken


Ali Köken was born in Afyon in 1967. He moved to Germany after completing his high school education and studied theater. Köken worked as an actor and director in many theaters and did research on the Traditional Turkish Theater. He wrote more than 30 plays. He is the only master puppeteer of Karagöz in Europe. He organized Karagöz days at the Bremen Museum of Overseas Cultures and granted the many Karagöz figures to the museum. He presented the storytelling performances in Germany. His plays and poems have been published in many magazines and newspapers. He continues his acting and master puppeteer career. In Germany, he is the only Karagöz master performing in German. He works as theater director and master of Karagöz at the Kulturbunker theater in Mülheim, Cologne.

Erhan Köken was born in 1990 in Grevenbroich and is the only Karagöz master trained in Germany and performs in only German.
He started his professional career by assisting Ali Köken, and learned traditional Karagöz as his apprentice. During this time he also started to write his own plays. When Erhan Köken moved to Bielefeld to study law, he founded his own theater group, where he worked as a director and writer. But Karagöz and Hacivat have always been his companions.

The story of Karagöz, with a Migration Background, in Germany

From the moment he started to perform Karagöz, he believed that the Karagöz theater should be accessible for a German-speaking audience. Hence he started writing texts in German and performing them. For more than 10 years now, Erhan Köken has been a Karagöz master and worked with many national theaters, schools, international associations, and institutes. He also conducts workshops and training courses at the present.


9th Contributor Serkan Öztürk

Performer/Script Writer

After graduating from Gazi University, Department of Fine Arts, Serkan Öztürk completed his master’s degree in Theater Acting at Haliç University.

Öztürk, who started his art journey in 1992, has acted as an actor, writer and director in the field of theater and cinema and continues to work in this field.

In addition, Karagöz, accepted as one of the building blocks of shadow plays, comes to life in the workshop of Serkan Öztürk and is reflected on the screen.

Surreal Characters and Stories in Karagöz Plays

Karagöz popularized himself using comedy. Karagöz its portrayals which contain both real-world related and imaginary, supernatural characters is another reason for Karagöz’s being watched interestedly. 

Öztürk, who has been living in Germany since 2017, aims to continue with Theater 916, which he founded with his wife Sibel Öztürk, by adding new projects to his artworks.

8th Contributor Mevlüt Özhan


Mevlüt Öztürk was born in Kırşehir in 1953. He graduated from Ankara University Theater Department in 1977. He worked in the Ministry of Culture as the Deputy General Manager of the General Directorate of Research and Development of Folk Culture.

He did researches on traditional Turkish theater, children’s games, and folk culture in Turkey and abroad. He participated in congresses and symposiums at both national and international levels.

Karagöz as Cultural Heritage and Multiculturalism in Karagöz

His scientific researches and reviews were published in congresses, symposium proceedings, annual and various journals. He has published books on folk culture and Karagöz.

He is one of the founders of the International Puppet and Shadow Play Association (UNIMA) of the Turkey section.

7th Contributor Peri Efe


Peri Efe

2017      Ph.D.   Byzantine & NewGreek Studies, University of Vienna.

Dissertation: Karagiozis – Schattenspiel und Politik: Der griechische Karagiozisspieler Sotiris Spatharis

2007 M.A.    Byzantine &New Greek Studies (major subject), Turcology (minor subject), University of Vienna.       

Thesis: Ein Bürokrat und Gelehrter aus Millet-i Rum im Osmanischen Reich des 19. Jahrhunderts: Alexandros Karatheodoris

Main areas of research: Shadow theatre, Karagiozis and Karagöz, Phanariots, Karamanlidika, Minorities in Ottoman Empire, Language problem in Turkey and Greece, Nationalism.

Karagiozis in Company with Karagöz


2008-2016           Contribution to Toplumsal Tarih, monthly magazine published in Istanbul by the History Foundation (Tarih Vakfı), with dossiers, articles, translations and interviews.

2010 – 2014        Co-host of “Fikri Takip”, a fortnightly programme, where articles from Toplumsal Tarih are discussed with their writers (Açık Radyo, an Istanbul-based independent radio station)

2013 – 2021       Freelance translator and scientific editor for various publishing houses including Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, Alfa Yayınları, Yapı Kredi Yayınları.

6th Contributor Şehsuvar Aktaş


Şehsuvar Aktaş was born in 1964 in Ankara. He graduated from Ankara University, Faculty of Language and History-Geography, Department of Theater in 1988, and completed his master’s and doctorate degrees in the same department. Since 1989, he has been working as an actor in theater companies such as Ankara Sanat Tiyatrosu, Tiyatro Ti, Tiyatro Oyunevi, Bilsak Atölye TTiyatro Atölyesi, 5.Sokak Tiyatrosu.

Invention of Tradition on a Shadow-screen

Aktaş, translated the works of Alfred Jarry, Molière, Michel Foucault, Patrice Pavis, and Eugène İonesco. In 2000, he founded Theatre TEM with Ayşe Selen. He continues his acting and translating carrier.

5th Contributor Ahmet Akşit


Ahmet Akşit 13.06.1962 / Istanbul/ Main areas of research: Ottoman bureaucracy in the 18th and 19th century. Shadow theatre Karagöz,. Ottoman journalism in the 19th century, activities of theatre in Istanbul in the 19th century.

2017     Ph. D. Turcology Department, University of Vienna. Thesis: The change of shadow  theatre Karagöz during 19th and 20th centuries. 2006     M.A., History Department (major subject), Turcology (minor subject), University of Vienna. Thesis: The reflections of Austrian influence on the Ottoman modernization in the 19thcentury in the works of Ottoman ambassador Sadık Rifat Paşa.

Transformation of Karagöz in the 19th Century

2010 – 2014      Co-host of “Fikri Takip”, a fortnightly programme, where articles from Toplumsal Tarih are discussed with their writers (Açık Radyo, an Istanbul-based independent radio station)

2006-2016        Editor in chief of Toplumsal Tarih (Social History), monthly magazine published in Istanbul by the History Foundation (Tarih Vakfı).

2008 – 2013 Freelance redactor for Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları:

4th Contributor Mahir Şaul


Mahir Şaul (B.A. Boğaziçi University, 1975; M.A. and PhD Indiana University, 1982) is a social anthropologist who specializes in West Africa and in Turkey. He is a professor at the University of Illinois, Department of Anthropology. He started research life publishing on Turkish folk literature and historical popular entertainment. During his PhD in the USA, he turned to West Africa, where he conducted long term fieldwork, spending altogether several years in rural areas and in the archival collections concerning the colonial period. He published numerous articles, chapters and books on African rural social and economic life, colonial history, and African cinema. In recent years his research focused on transnational migration and African mobility to Turkey, Sephardic culture history, and the broader culture history of Turkey.

Karagöz Shadow Theater. Evolution in Culture History and in Evaluative Writing.

He received the Amaury Talbot Prize of the Royal Anthropological Institute of the UK for best book on African anthropology (2002); was listed an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice magazine (2001); and received the Distinguished Africanist Award of the Association for Africanist Anthropology (AAA) (2004). In 2012 he was given the Visionaries award of Utne Reader magazine (2012). He had fellowships and grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright-Hays Program, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. In 2018 he was awarded TÜBITAK’s International Fellowship for Outstanding Researchers.

3rd Contributor Cengiz Samsun


Cengiz Samsun has been in theater since 1997 and after a few years of his acting profession, he has also started his puppet and shadow-puppet carrier. He was selected as “Intangible Cultural Heritage Carrier” by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

To sustain or not to sustain: is Karagöz really dead?

He has awarded in the field of traditional theater. He has staged plays, and organized workshops. He gave lectures on shadow-puppet and puppet theater at Mimar Sinan University and Several important city theater conservatories such as İstanbul and Kocaeli Municipalities.

2nd Contributor Sibel Tomac


Sibel Tomaç graduated from Kocaeli University Stage Design Department. She is one of the first woman shadow-puppet Masters in Turkey and is known as Hayali Kibele. Tomac started her professional theater career in in 2003.

Seeking the light in the shadow: Contemporary interpretations of traditional shadow puppetry with the female eye

She creates/designs new stock characters for shadow theater alongside the traditional ones. Tomac also compiles and rewrites traditional Karagöz plays by adapting them to present.

1st Contributor Haluk Yüce


Haluk Yüce has been involved in theater since 1975 and pursuing his puppet and shadow-puppet works since 1982. Yüce, who is the founder of Theater TEMPO (1984), finished his MFA in the field of puppet theater at Connecticut College in the USA in 1990. He is a member of the Traditional Theater and Karagöz commission in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

A glance to the Karagöz and Shadow-puppet Theater in the Light of the Present from the Third Generation Tradition Bearer

He has many awards in the field of theater. He has staged plays, organized workshops, and gave seminars both in Turkey and abroad. He also gives lectures in the fields of Traditional Theater and Puppet Theater at Ankara University and Bilkent University.

Shodow Series

Goethe University Institute of Theater Studies