The Kyrgyz artists of Sakhna perform ‘Testament or Kerez’

Sakhna Theatre from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia performs Testament or Kerez
Sakhna Theatre from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia performs Testament or Kerez directed by Nurlan Asanbekov. Photo courtesy of Yara Arts Group.

Munarbek Alibaev portrays Kojojash, the hunter. The cast also includes the Sakhna actors Alymkan Abdykadyrova, Munarbek Alibaev, Baktytkul Dzhanibekov, Asel Maamytova, Kenzhegul Satybaldieva, and Ilgis Zhunusov. The production features the traditional epic singer Omurzak Kaiypov and Asylbek Nasirdinov accompanies the production on traditional instruments. Costumes are by Ainura Asanbekova, the is set by Iuldash Nurmatov, and the show was choreographed by Sergey Sratsov.

Sakhna Theatre was founded under the direction of Nurlan Asanbekov in 2002. The artists work and experiment with traditional material, creating contemporary experimental versions of the great Kyrgyz epics. They study the oral folk traditions of their nomadic culture in order to help them revive these epics through ritual theatre. The universal theme of man’s relationship with nature is at the heart of their productions. The epic stories are accompanied by traditional songs and instruments, further preserving this 1,000-year-old culture. To date, they have created three productions: “Testament or Kerez,” which won the main prize in Bishkek’s “Art-Ordo” International Theatre Festival, “Kurmanbek” and “Maktym-Dastan,” which were created with support from the Swiss Agency for Development. Most recently, the company collaborated with Yara Arts Group, a resident company at La MaMa on the creation of “Janyl” a world music theatre piece based on a Kyrgyz epic that performed in La MaMa in March.

The production of “Testament or Kerez” was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Kyrgyz Government, the Swiss Agency for Development, and the Soros Foundation of Kyrgyzstan. Special thanks to John and Nancy Walter for providing part of the yurt.

“Testament or Kerez” performs Thur-Sun March 29 to April 1 at 8:00 pm with a matinee on Sunday at 3PM in La MaMa’s First Floor Theater, 74A East Fourth Street. Tickets are $15; box office is (212) 475-7710; online ticketing is available at

Jonathan Slaff
Jonathan Slaff writes on cultural events from the brainy, the edgy and the good. He helps us keep ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.