Ayhan Hulagu


Ayhan Hulagu is a United States-based actor. He founded the theater group called Hayal Perdesi while continuing his education in Turkey. He later launched the PAU Theatre Festival; an annual showcase performed by a group of teenagers and college students with a 17-year successful run.

After obtaining his college degree, he joined the Sahika Tekand Studio Players in Istanbul, an established theater group, to further advance his acting skills, and continued his career as a stage artist.

Hulagu developed an interest in shadow puppetry and started performing professionally soon after completing a course in shadow plays offered jointly by the Turkish Ministry of arts and culture and International Puppetry Association (UNIMA) in Istanbul, in 2011. After Karagoz, the traditional Anatolian shadow play character was included in UNESCO’s list.

Hulagu brought his artistic experience to the U.S. where he staged many plays across America. He founded Karagoz Theatre Company in the U.S. in 2017. His shows debuted in Washington, D.C., and were played in Miami, California, Texas, and New York City. As part of his projects in the U.S, Hulagu organized workshops and exhibitions to win new fans and audiences for a Turkish Theatre in Hawaii, Minnesota, Cornell, Harvard University, etc. 

After a successful run of Turkish plays, he established himself as a promising young artist, offering something authentic and traditional to the American audience with exhibited passion. 

Hulagu received invitations from a number of organizations to perform; Hollywood Fringe Festival, National Puppet Festival, International Puppet Fringe NYC, Washington DC Culture Festival, Neopolis International Theatre Festival, and La MaMa Puppet S., to name a few. He frequently receives such invitations from similar organizations in the U.S, Africa, and Europe.

Hulagu adapted Shakespeare’s Hamlet which was nominated for best Adaptations & Modernizations play in New York City, Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote for the first time to traditional Turkish theatre, and did many projects with American companies. Hulagu was granted an ‘extraordinary ability artist’ status to the US for bringing the traditional Turkish theatre art form to the United States like who has an Oscar, Nobel, etc. He made history as the first artist to introduce Karagoz’s character —in its nearly 700 years of history– to Broadway.

He is a board member at Puppeteers of America which has produced over 160 national and regional festivals to celebrate and share the art of puppetry in the United States of America. 


The Good Doctor, Anton Chekhov, HPO, 2006 (Theatre)

Bloody Mary, Traditional Turkish Theatre, HPO, 2007 (Theatre)

The Photographer, Traditional Turkish Theatre, HPO, 2007 (Theatre)

My Dream Comedy, Anton Chekhov, HPO, 2008 (Theatre)

Distant, Afif Yesari, HPO, 2009 (Theatre)

Being Rhinoceros, Sahika Tekand, Studio Players, 2014 (Theatre)

The Swing, T. Turkish Theatre, Solo Performance, 2016 (Shadow Theatre) 

The Lost, İbrahim Öksüz, 2017 (Movie)

The Forest of the Witch, T. Turkish Theatre, US Karagoz Theatre Company, 2017 (Shadow Theatre)

Dream of Hamlet, William Shakespeare, US Karagoz Theatre Company, 2019 (Shadow Theatre)

I am Anatolia in memory of Yıldız Kenter, Mam’art Theatre, 2020 (Theatre)

1001 Nights, Hakawati Project-Los Angeles, 2020 (Theatre)

Hamlet, William Shakespeare, Hamlet Isn’t Dead, 2021-2022 (Theatre)

Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, US Karagoz Theatre Company, 2021-2022 (Shadow Theatre)

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