Sprit of Seiba

Imagine a spirit that brings us together to listen stories under the trees, a spirit that ties us together… A day came and this spirit that once used to wander around freely, was stuck into a bottle. Tellers diminished, trees were cut down, togethernesses took utterly different forms.

I’m Nazlı Çevik Azazi, I came across with this spirit in the lands of Germany in my life path. I took a course that this spirit roams in, ‘Storytelling’. That time, I was doing my master’s degree, Theatre Pedagogy, in Berlin Art University. I met with this spirit while I was listening fairytales, myths, legends, sagas from various storytellers and I fell in love with it. I took many courses from various great storytellers in Europe and began my journey as a storyteller. I told stories in Berlin to kids and adults from various cultures. After I completed my training, I returned to İstanbul in 2013 and began to work as a storyteller. As I told and trained new storytellers I realized that the spirit slowly moved out from where it was stuck and began to float again in the air and between people. Not only me, also with the contribution of other professional tellers, the number of storytellers, tale nights, festivals and workshops on storytelling increased in Turkey. As we met in the stories, we met with that spirit and rejoiced as we had found our lost paradise.

Just then, in the year 2014, on an October morning I meditated. There was a soft breeze in the air and warbles of birds were dancing with the wind. I saw a forest within me. I stared at the trees for a long time. I saw the uniqueness that created this beauty. I was giving storytelling workshops in Turkey since 2012. I was witnessing how storytelling revived thanks to the proffessionals who’ve dedicated themselves to this field, dynamism and liveliness affected our country too. I began to ask this question to myself ‘So, why not we wouldn’t have an ‘International Storytelling Center’ here in Turkey?’ I let this question brew in my heart. I began to enhance the dream.

Imagine a center that will introduce the storytelling traditions in Anatolia at international stages and will carry storytellers from Turkey to those stages…. A center that will enable tellers from Turkey to meet with substantial oral traditions and their masters from all over the world. But how could I establish this center? By myself ? I never liked the idea of being the sole hero of a story. I always wanted to meet with other heros. I dreamt of writing a greater, subtler story with meeting other heros. I decided to project Turkey’s first Storytelling Center together with all the spirited heros whom I’ve known and the ones I will meet. A voice within
me told me, ‘Hey, stop. What are you doing? Write this story on your own. Open this center without anyone.’ ‘Are you afraid of doing this alone?’ said the other voice. Another one interrupted and tried to devastate my hope. ‘ You cannot do it by yourself. Do you have what it takes? And what do you know about founding a center? ‘Sure, I was hearing other voices coming from deep among the other screaming ones. ‘A tree can’t make a forest. Healing of a forest can’t be measured with one tree. You’re on your own way and it’s a good one, but start this journey with the friends you trust and know.’ said the old wise woman within me. ‘Remember Voltran’ said the child in me, ‘Let all pieces come together and form something bigger, a greater force, just like Voltran.’.

I listened for all the voices within me. Sometimes I was confused, sometimes I lost my trust. Fortunately I had learnt to make up my mind with heeding my old wise woman and the child. They never proved me wrong. They always showed me the right way, the light of my story. So firstly, I told this idea to Senem. I had met with Senem in Summer 2013, in my workshop at ‘Theatre Madrasa’ that she was one of the founders of. We continued to work together at ‘Fama’s House Storytelling Community’. Our stories bonded us. Senem was my student then she became my tale friend and later my trustworthy companion. We nourished each other with our experiences, healed each other with our conversations that flowed from our hearts, and we cried and laughed together. Wise woman within me had advised me to take this road with a friend who is dependable and hardworking like Senem and I listened to her. Senem shared my dream. We continued to foster the dream and after a while we told our dream to my sister Şeyda who gives education to children with her heart and fascinates stories with her voice and her energy. Our storyteller grandfather’s blood runs in our veins, both in Şeyda’s and mine. She has also other seeds that Senem and I don’t have, I sensed it. Thus, Şeyda also brought her colour into our dreams and we started to plant the seeds of Seiba all together.

Since October, 2014 we are trying to find the answers of questions like: ‘ How can we establish this center? What should be in the heart of it? Which seeds do we want to plant ?’ In this quest process, advices and support of expert storytellers guided us. Masters who supported me in the past gave the light that had been filtered from their experiences, to our dreams and increased our questions with questions, our excitement with their enthusiasm for life. In the meantime, we met with wonderful people who entered newly to the storytelling world and wanted to help us with their experiences they had collected from other disciplines. All together we nourished Seiba tree and made it grow. Now Seiba tree reached a certain point of maturity and calls you to its shadow.