International Centre for Circassian Studies (ICCS)

Circassian Drama & Theatre

[The Minister of Culture of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, Ruslan Firov (Fira), suggested at the ceremony of launching the International Centre for Circassian Studies on 6 April 2009 at the Geneva Hotel that a section be added to this website that deals with Circassian drama and theatre. This webpage is a response to his suggestion. It shall include materials on Circassian theatre and drama, including audio and video recordings of Circassian plays and their scripts. As is the case with the other webpages on this site, this is a work in progress. Last updated: 7 July 2009]

An Introductory Account of

Circassian Theatre




Amjad Jaimoukha


One of the first instances of dialogue in Circassian literature is in the ancient tale ‘The Elegy of the Maid who Refused to Marry her Brother’ («Дэлъхум дэкIуэн зымыда хъыджэбзым и уэрэдыр») which gives us a glimpse of those far away days when incest was not yet tabooed. The poor girl begs the members of her family in turn to let her inside the house. Such stories are considered the forerunners of Circassian drama.


— А си анэ дыщэурэ,                       My dearest Mother,

А си дыщэ плъыжь,                         Radiant as red gilt!

Мы бжэр нысхуIупхыркъэ,             I beseech you: Open this door.

ЩIыIэм сегъалIэри.                         The chill is killing me.


— Си гуащэжьыр жыпIэтэмэ,         If you would just call me mother-in-law,

НыпхуIусхынт.                                 I would open it for you.


— Си псэ тIэкIур пытурэ                How can I call you thus,

Дауэ пхужысIэн.                              Whilst there is still life in my bones.



In the introduction to Z. Qardenghwsch’’s work Circassian Tales (1963), the Circassian writer and researcher Askerbi Shorten (Шортэн Аскэрбий) maintains that this text occupies a very special place not only in Circassian tradition, but also in human social development. Incest was abandoned a very long time ago by mankind, and this elegy provides us with a vestige of those far away days when this practice was not yet tabooed.

Read more in the attached pdf and Microsoft Word files.

Circassian Theatre.pdf Circassian Theatre.pdf
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Circassian Theatre.doc Circassian Theatre.doc
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Drama theatres in Circassia

Website (only in Russian) of the Kabardian State Drama Theatre is found at: <http://stdkbr.by.ru/kab_main.html>.

Information (in Russian) on the Adigean State Drama Theatre can be found at: <http://www.mkra.ru/iskusstvo.php>.

Circassian Plays & Dramas


The Poet & History

(or The Poet & Time)

Hesen Qwedzoqwe

УсакIуэмрэ тхыдэмрэ

Къуэдзокъуэ Хьэсэн

A poem published in 1992 had a young man having a tête-à-tête with History and confronting him with the dark fate of his people:


‘I have been in this life for a score years,

Yet, not a single blessing have I enjoyed.

My Lord!I sacrifice my life to you,

If only you have mercy upon my people.’


The beautiful green tree of the Ubykh,

Was washed away by the flooding Sea,

Freedom in Circassia ended,

It was lost without a trace.



«Сэ сызэрыхъур илъэс тIощIщ,

Ауэ фIы гуэр си нобэм хэлъкъым.

Къурмэн си гъащIэр уэ пхузощI,

ГущIэгъу къыхуэщIи уэ си лъэпкъым».



Жыг щхъуантIэ дахэу щыта Убыхри

Хыр зыщIэуауэ псым ихьыжащ,

Щхьэхуитыныгъэр Хэкум щиухри

Ар лъэужьыншэу хэкIуэдэжащ.



History has this to say in his own defense:


My secret is made so by man,

I am abused as a place where secrets are hid.


Your good and bad I preserve for posterity.

My records are yours, not only mine to keep.

For the queries you have for me,

I am ready to give you truthful answers.



— Сэ си щэхур цIыхурщ щэху зыщIыжыр,

Сэ сывигъэпщкIупIэу аркъудейщ.


ФIыми Iейми, фэ влэжьар сотхыжыр,

Ар фэращ  — сэракъым псори зейр.

УпщIэу уэ къызэптым и жэуапыр

Пэжу уэстыжыну сыхьэзырщ...



The two protagonists part as the poet comes to terms with his past.


A heart-rending and sobering encounter it was, but it just failed to name the culprit. Written by Hesen Qwedzoqwe (1992), ‘The Poet and History’ became very popular. It was dramatized and shown on TV (shot and directed by Mohy Quandour). Videotapes were distributed in the diaspora.

You can listen to the whole drama in the following six audio files, which were digitized and prepared by Nart Shekem. The text of the dialogue shall be made available on this webpage.

Qwedzoqwe, H., «УСАКIУЭМРЭ ТХЫДЭМРЭ, I». ‘Wisak’wemre Txidemre, I [The Poet and History, I]’, in ’Waschhemaxwe, no. 5, 1992, pp 28-39.



* Addressed to the Circassian supreme god Theshxwe.



01 The Poet and Time.wma 01 The Poet and Time.wma
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02 The Poet and Time.wma 02 The Poet and Time.wma
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03 The Poet and Time.wma 03 The Poet and Time.wma
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04 The Poet and Time.wma 04 The Poet and Time.wma
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05 The Poet and Time.wma 05 The Poet and Time.wma
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06 The Poet and Time.wma 06 The Poet and Time.wma
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The Resurrection of Satanay

M. I. Quandour, a Jordanian Circassian, composed and released a three-act operatic musical The Resurrection of Satanay that was premiered at the Kabardino-Balkarian State Musical Theatre in the summer of 2000. It is based on the poem ‘Satanay’ written by his wife Lyuba Balagova (Belaghi), a Circassian. The music score was recorded on CD (set of 2) by the Kabardino-Balkarian Philharmonic Orchestra, with Boris Temirkanov (Teimirqan) as conductor, and published by The Cherkess Fund in 1999.


‘Belaghi’s poem tells the story of the Circassian nation from mythical times to the present in a soul searching rendition, raising more questions than answers as to why the Circassian nation suffered migration and disintegration during the past two hundred. Belaghi weaves mythological characters, such as those of Satanay, the mother of all Circassians, and ’Waschhemaxwe, the original God of the Narts, mixing metaphor and mythology to tell the tragedy of a nation.

‘The music, with the exception of the “Overture” and the introductions to the three acts, was written specifically to conform to the operatic nature of the poem/play. It is therefore lyrical and melodic with some development of themes and variations.’ (From the accompanying CD booklet.) This is a vivid example of the interaction of diaspora and native cultures.

Act 1


Act 1 sees the rebirth of Satanay and her return to live with her people, experiencing life as a normal Circassian woman, marrying, having children, and experiencing human love and passions. But she soon rediscovers her true identity and longs for the love of her father, the God ’Waschhemaxwe. Satanay decides to return to him in search of the answers to the many perplexing questions invading her mind, concerning the character and behaviour of her people, the Circassians.



Act 2


Satanay spends the entire act in dialogue and philosophical arguments with her father concerning the destiny of her children, the Circassians. ’Waschhemaxwe reveals to her the history of her people, from ancient times to the disastrous migrations of the mid-19th century, and the later bloody revolution of the 20th century. Satanay is shocked at how much her children had suffered. She begs her father to allow her one more chance with her people, to show them the right path and to advise them how they should live and behave. ’Waschhemaxwe reluctantly agrees, knowing that her return will not change the preordained destiny.



Act 3


Satanay return to earth and enters the community of the Circassians as a wise woman wanting to council and teach. The Circassians resent her intrusion, accusing her of sorcery, and finally decide to destroy her by nailing her to Mount Elbrus and letting the vultures feed on her heart. In the Finale of the act Satanay asks for forgiveness for her children and prays to the supreme god to give the Circassian nation another Nart son (another Sosriqwe), who might save it from its determined path to extinction.  

The following are audio files of renditions by Belaghi herself of her epic poem 'The Resurrection of Satanay'.

01 Track 1-1.mp3 01 Track 1-1.mp3
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01 Track 1-2.mp3 01 Track 1-2.mp3
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02 Track 2.wma 02 Track 2.wma
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03 Track 3.wma 03 Track 3.wma
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04 Track 4-1.mp3 04 Track 4-1.mp3
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04 Track 4-2.mp3 04 Track 4-2.mp3
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05 Track 5.wma 05 Track 5.wma
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06 Track 6.wma 06 Track 6.wma
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For a number of online plays in Circassian, please visit


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