The heroic epos of “Alpamysh” consists of fourteen thousand lines and is a unique monument of oral national heritage. It has kept attractiveness for more than thousand years being inexhaustible source inspiring new and new generations of artists.
For the first time, it drew attention of Uzbek theatre in 1942. Beginning of the second world war delayed preparation to celebrations of the 500th-anniversary of Alisher Navoi and 1000th-anniversary of heroic epos “Alpamysh”.
Theatre critics Vladimir Volkenshtein, evacuated to Tashkent, and Temur Fattah created an idea and plot of the first drama of “Alpamysh”. The drama consisted of four acts and eight scenes threaded with a theme of patriotism. Alpamysh was a national hero and defender of native land who realized experiences and characteristic dramatic nature of any ordinary person.
V. Jirmunsky wrote that “Alpamysh” could not be modernized, it should not be adjusted to taste and ideological requirements of contemporaries because of dastan itself and complex nature of its personages did not allow to do that. Due to that the heroic-romantic play by V. Volkenshtein and T. Fattah well kept the spirit of epos and its essence.
However, different reasons prevented the play staging. Soon after that V. Vitkovich wrote film scenario of “Alpamysh”. The War interrupted its realization.
Acquaintance with these works, stored at the Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan, enriched our knowledge of theatre and cinema interpretations of dastan.
The first theatre staging of “Alpamysh” was the play by Sabir Abdullah, written in 1942. Four-hour musical drama of “Alpamysh” was staged on the summer stage of Uzbek State Musical Theatre named after Mukimi. It was located in Djangoh district of Tashkent (now the park of Abdullah Kadyri). At desires of spectators it was given twice a day during first three months after premiere. The people enthusiastically applauded to actors Mahmudjan Gafurov and Tursunali Valiev impersonating Alpamysh, to Farogat Rakhmatova and Zeinab Samieva playing Oibarchin.
The stage director Muzaffar Muhammedov kept the folklore approach and paid much attention to political and educational influence of the play on spectators. He concentrated attention on such qualities of our people and personified in Alpamysh, as love for the native land, care of peace and happiness of the people. When Alpamysh (actor Mahmudjan Gafurov) drove to the stage, proudly sitting on a real horse, the audience burst into applause. Dramatist Sabir Abdullah deeply thought over characteristic features of Alpamysh. Even enemies switched to struggle against oppression and injustice under influence of Alpamysh.
In 1952 dastan was condemned. The character of Alpamysh was wrong interpreted as neglected the other religions and nations. “Alpamysh” was deleted from theatre repertoires.
National actress of Uzbekistan Farogat Rakhmatova told that even performance of songs from musical drama of “Alpamysh” at concerts or any other action was blamed. The actors playing leading roles in this drama were discharged of participation in other plays, and Muzaffar Muhammedov was removed to the other theatre. (In spite of all that, due to courageous efforts of some scientists, epos of “Alpamysh” has been preserved for our history). However, its staging had not been done for a long time.
In 1999, in the connection with of the 1000th-anniversary of heroic epos of “Alpamysh”, a number of theatre plays occurred one after another. Unlike the previous plays they have longer life. In 1999 Usman Azim wrote the play of “Return of Alpamysh” which was staged the same year at Andijan and Surkhan-Darya regional theatres. Uzbek State Musical Theatre by Mukimi turned to this theme in 2001. In 2002 the play was performed at Djetysaisky Dramatic Theatre named after Kurmanbek Jandarbekov (Kazakhstan) in translation of Askar Kuldanov.
The major advantage of the play and its staging was that spectators saw not lifeless pictures of far history, but scenes from actually public dastan coming through the prism of real people and their relations. Events are going on the stage as they are in real today’s life.
Though the play of Usman Azim began with a scene of Alpamysh and Oibarchin farewell, stage directors introduced the character of bahshi narrating dastan. Creative finds of director Mansur Ravshanov from Surkhan-Darya regional theatre are of especial interest. The action begins with narration of bahshi and finalizes with it. Melodies of dombra and songs sounding offstage in performance of national bahshi of Uzbekistan Shoberdi Boltaev involve spectators in stage action. The stage director interpreted the play in romantic-heroic style. The actors deeply felt their task. So, Rakhim Mamataliev playing Kultai, Bahadyr Ramazanov in role of Hakkul-bahshi and Gulnara Ravshanova playing Kuntugmishbika managed to embody characteristic national features. Hamid Aripov (Alpamysh) and Dilbar Faizieva (Oibarchin) created characters of our ancestors, which life represents an example of faithfulness and love for the native land, struggle for dignity, truth and justice.
Hakkul-bahshi finalized the performance with narration: “And Alpamysh, having returned to the country, achieved his aim together with Barchinoi. Let spectators which have seen the performance become successful in their good intentions”. The curtain is falling down. Only after that you understand, that you are not a participant of these events on the stage and you are not in the steppes of Surkhan.
Stage Director Validjan Umarov who staged the play at Uzbek State Musical Theatre by Mukimi and Andijan Dramatic Theatre begins performances with the scene reflecting infinite circulation of life. Bobo-bahshi, having sung the prologue of “Alpamysh” dastan, passes the baton to his apprentice Hakkulu-bahshi. Having taken dombra from hands of the teacher, Hakkul as if swears before people to celebrate the truth.
Little girl Barchinoi and boy Hakimbek are playing, throwing the apple to each other as a symbol of love. The scene is running when bahshi narrates that they have been betrothed since the birth. That solution adds attractiveness to the performance and shows that V. Umarov deeply thought over each detail of the play staging. One of the most beautiful stages of the play – farewell of the lovers follows after the introduction. Actors Mirza Azizov and Zulaiho Baikhanova play it perfectly.
Alpamysh asks his lover to give all spirit of their tribe to the baby she is waiting. This command is above all for Barchinoi.
When the slaves arranged robbery, Barchinoi, tearing, says to the son Yadgar thrown down to the ground by the lash of Ultan:
Stand up, my son! If you do not stand, where will your people be, Leave me! My bones are shattered,
Having dug under the river, do not move the mountain, my son, Stand up, my son, for the sake of the name “Uzbek” will be preserved!
Yadgar (A. Uzakov) recollects in mind seven generations of his ancestors and having received their blessing and force, he takes the bow weighting 14 batmans. Loudly crying he says: “I have lifted, father!” It is difficult to see this scene indifferently.
When Alpamysh dressed as knight appears on the stage and takes the bow from hands of the son, the audience is keeping up applause. Mirza Azizov, creating this hero, paid attention not so much to powerful image of the hero, but to his inner world corresponding to his external greatness and personifying courage and dignity.
In variants of “Returnof Alpamysh” interesting are forms and methods chosen by stage director Valijan Umarov. The play was staged in cooperation of Uzbek and Kazakh actors in two languages. Oibarchin (Zulaiho Baikhanova) and Alpamysh (Galimbek Gapparov) played a stage of farewell in Kazakh and Uzbek languages. In fact, language of love is universal, and feelings of devotion and love do not require translation.
Young actor Alisher Uzakov played the role of Jadiger (Yadgar) on the basis of skills and knowledge obtained at the theatre of Mukimi. In the scene of his meeting with the father spectator feel excitement which he feels. When his father – Alpamysh asks the son in Kazakh language about his tribe Jadiger answers in Uzbek. Then he says: “Baurim!” (Kaz. – “my dear”). They embrace each other with tears in eyes.
The idea is that our thoughts and sights at concepts of “world”, “freedom”, “friendship” and “good” coincide independently from which language we speak.
Two other plays written to the anniversary of epos of “Alpamysh” are “Bow and arrows of Alpamysh” by playwright Abdullah Djabbar and “Alpamysh” by Nazim Tulyakhodjaev for a puppet theater (called as “Winged people”) which became not less popular, than “Return of Alpamysh”. The reason of their success is that they express thoughts and expectations of many peoples though transfer thousand-year old events.