Hakob Vardovyan (Gullu Hakob) was an Armenian and Turkish director, entrepreneur, actor, and theater figure. He also was the founder of the Turkish theater.
Vardovyan began his stage career in 1861 in the troupe Arevelyan Tatron (Oriental Theater) in Istanbul. After the closure of this troupe in 1867, he received monopoly permission from the government to organize dramas, operettas, and comic operas in Armenian and Turkish.
Vardovyan organized the troupe “Vardovyan taterakhumb” (“Troupe of Vardovyan”) in Constantinople that operated in 1869-1877. The plays of Shakespeare, Schiller, Moliere, Hugo, Dumas, works of Armenian playwrights – among them S. Ekimyan, M. Peshiktashlyan, and P. Duryan – were staged here. Among the Armenian actors here were M. Nvard, E. and V. Garagashyan, G. Rshtuni, D. Tryan, and A. Kantardzhyan. Vardovyan himself took part in the performances as an actor, one of his roles being Macbeth.
Vardovyan has made a significant contribution to the development of the Turkish professional theater. In 1867-1879, the troupe led by Vardovyan performed in the building of the Gedikpaşa Tiyatros in Turkish. The plays of Ahmed Midhat, Namik Kemal, and other Turkish authors have been staged here.