Turkish Cypriot theatre and shadow puppetry have been very popular in the TRNC since antiquity. For centuries, these were the only sources of entertainment for people prior to the advent of television. Even when cinemas were established in towns and cities, it was still difficult for village folk to reach urban centres, hence why shadow plays continued to play a prominent role in cultural life. Theatre has been both a source of entertainment and an instructive medium for the public.
Traditional Turkish audience plays in North Cyprus have adopted an identity intrinsic to North Cyprus both in subject matter and style. In particular, the Shadow Game (Karagöz) has long been a popular play in North Cyprus and has become an indispensable pleasure for Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish Cypriot theatre evolved from traditional Turkish theatre, mirroring its development and eventually opening itself up to the influences of Western theatre. After adopting Western theatre styles and techniques at the beginning of the 20th Century, traditional Turkish Cypriot theatre was gradually forgotten, with Western theatre approach coming to dominate the movement entirely.
Founded in 1963, the first Turkish Cypriot theatre was called ‘First Stage’ and later became known as the Turkish Cypriot State Theatre in 1966. The Turkish Cypriot State Theatre has since staged various plays in the TRNC and abroad.
Today, local and foreign theatre groups also operate alongside the Turkish Cypriot State Theatre. Many local and foreign theatre groups add variety and liveliness to the cultural life of North Cyprus during theatre festivals.