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TURKISH THEATRE IN THE LAST TWENTY YEARS

In the 1970's, Turkish theatre made use of the techniques in the west while preserving its own traditional structure. National and universal tendencies are observable in the work of playwrights, directors, and in the concepts of acting. After the 1972-1973 theatre season however, private theatres in Turkey started closing down, and within a couple of years were considerably reduced in number. Subsidies led to the opening of new theatres, and the state theatre especially began a new period of stability in Bursa and Izmir in the 1971-1972 season, and in Istanbul in the 1978-1979 season, and increased the number of its directorates.

At that time the State Theatre had five theatres in Ankara: Büyük Tiyatro, Küçük Tiyatro, Yeni Sahne, Altindag Tiyatrosu, and Oda Tiyatrosu. In 1978 theatre tours in Turkey started to be made to all the big cities, and they were continued regularly every season. The Istanbul city theatres were made into five separate divisions with regulations issued in 1976. Each division had a group art director affiliated to the general art director. Together with Tepebasi, Harbiye, Fatih, Kadiköy and Çsküdar city theatres, a traveling theatre group was formed. These divisions continued until 1980. However, many of the private theatres established after 1970 were not long lasting.

Kardes Oyuncular and Ankara Oyunculari in Ankara, and Grup Oyunculari, Çevre Tiyatrosu, Çsküdar Oyunculari, Ulvi Uraz toplulugu, Abdurrahman Palay Tiyatrosu, The Theatre of Turkish Writers and Hasmet Zeybek's Gazete Theatre are some of the theatre groups established up until 1974. The Nisa Serezli-Tolga Askiner group which was established in 1971 continued its work, and a group of artists who left the Ankara Art Theatre the same season established the Petek Players Group. After a short time the Yeni Ankara Theatre and Asaf Çigiltepe Groups were established, replacing the former group. The Ali Poyrazoglu Theatre established in Istanbul at the 1972-1973 theatre season still performs its plays, which once attracted a great deal of attention. In the following years the Revolutionist Ankara Theatre (DAST) established by Erkan Yücel, who had previously left the Ankara Theatre together with a large group, took the name "Folk Theatre". Then, artists belonging to the Association of Short Period Artists established the "Çagdas Sahne" or Modern Stage. Çagdas Sahne operated as a multi-cultural institution, administered the Ankara Cinematique Association, and arranged plays and concerts. This theatre gained a distinguished position by staging children's plays among certain age groups.

Other important groups are the Levent Kirca Theatre and Pioneer Stage. Akbank Children's Theatre , the Anatolian Children's Players under the direction of Çmit Denizer, the Ankara Children's Theatre under the direction of Salih Kalyon all put the past into a modern context. The contents of plays have concentrated on such topics as workers, civil servants, slum dwellings, events of recent history, current problems, and documentary studies after the 1970s. There are various topics taken from the War of Independence, the years of the Second World War, legends and tales. Ismet Küntay tells stories from the war years in "Tozlu Çizmeler" or Dusty Boots, people from various environments in "Evler... Evler" or Houses...Houses, workers constructing highways in "403 Kilometres". Ali Tuygun's "Legend of Agri Mountain", adopted from Yasar Kemal, was compiled from a legend.

Basar Sabuncu's "Life Story of Paymaster Ali Riza Bey", Tarik Bugra's "Ibis's Dream", Rifat Ilgaz's "Hababam Class", Melih Cevdet Anday's "Insiders", Bilgesu Erenus's "Double Game", Turhan Selçuk's "Abdülcanbaz", Kemal Bekir's "Falling" and Cevat Fehmi Baskut's "Who died" plays were written after the 1970s. Erol Günaydin and Cemal Resit Rey's "Howl 70" and "Balloon World" are musical plays. Orhan Aslan's "Hunting in Chile" and Güngör Dilmen Kalyoncu's "Blonde Gods" took their subject from global problems. Ergin Orbey's documentary plays "First Liberation" and "Independence War Through Documents" tells about the National War of Independence. Vasif Çngören's "Rich Kitchen" and "How to Play" created new styles. Oktay Arayici's "Futile World" and Aziz Nesin's "What Yasar Needs To Live" reflect the problems of oppressed people. Nezihe Araz's "Plain Praise", Vasfi Uçkan's "Sorrowful Soil", Orhan Asena's "Bald Mehmet From Atça", Çlker Köksal's "Ways Ended" and Erdogan Aytekin's "Ebekaya" deal with the issues of rural areas. Ali Yörük describes a local wedding feast in "Turkman Wedding". Ferdi Merter criticizes war in "Guns and Flowers". Erol Toy's "Adulater" is a contemporary example of traditional Turkish theater. Kerim Korcan's "Lynching" and "Tatar Ramazan" and Lale Oraloglu's "Women's Prison" deal with prison conditions. Hasmet Zeybek's "Alpagut Event" and "Wedding Drum", Okay Arayici's "Social Anatomy of A Death", Erdogan Alkin's "Red Street' Suzan" and Haldun Taner's "Commotion in Moonlight" are examples of the period.

In the 1980s the State Theatre continued to spread over the country through opening new theater directorates in various cities and increasing the numbers of permanent cadres. Every directorate established within the structure of the State Theatre goes on tour. The Ankara, Izmir, Istanbul, Bursa, Diyarbakir, Adana and Trabzon theatres make tours in their regions every month. The number of theatres in Ankara rose to six by opening the Sinasi Stage in place of the former Modern Stage during the 1987-1988 season. The Irfan Sahinbas Stage, opened on 4 April 1990 is used as an experimental theatre. The repertoires of State Theatres and Istanbul City Theatres contain classic, contemporary and local plays.

The Hadi Çaman Yeditepe Players, Enis Fosforoglu Theater, Hodri Meydan Cultural Center and the Ferhan Sensoy Comics are among private theatres established recently. Ankara Art Theatre, Dormen Theatre, Kent Players, Dostlar Theatre, Nisan Serezli-Tolga Askiner Theatre, Ali Poyrazoglu Theatre, Gazenfer Çzcan-Gönül Çlkü Theatre, Nejat Uygur Theatre, and the Levent Kirca Theatre have been active since the 1960s and 1970s. Several children's theatres from this period are Reha Bilgen's Tale Reality Theater, Idil Yazgin's Idil Abla Children's Theatre, Children"s Section of the Tevfik Gelenbe and Nokta Theatre in Istanbul, and the Ali Hürol Children"s Theatre, Çan Theatre, Children Section of the Folk Theatre and the Anatolian Art Center. Of the plays written after 1980, some can be mentioned as follows:

"Resimli Osmanli Tarihi"(Illustrated Ottoman History), Bir "Sehnaz Oyun" (A Compound Play), "Töre" (Custom), "Ah Su Gençler" (Those Youth) by Turgut Çzakman; "Rumuz Goncagül" (Sign Goncagül) by Oktay Arayici, "Misafir" (Guest) by Bilgesu Erenus, "Utanç Dünyasi" (A Shameful World) by Recep Bilginer, "Agri Dagi Efsanesi" (Mt. Agri Legend) adapted from Yasar Kemal's book of the same title, by Macit Koper, "Bir Filiz Vardi" (There was a blossom) adapted from Orhan Kemal by Erkan Yücel, and "Ip Oyunu" (Tag of War) by Refik Erduran. "Kaldirim Serçesi" (Street Beauty) a musical play telling the life story of Edith Piaf by Basar Sabuncu, "Limon" (Lemon) by Mehmet Baydur, "Sahibinin Sesi" (Voice of its owner) by Sevim Burak, "Afife Jale" (Afife Jale's life Story) by Nezihe Araz, "Hulusi Bey'in Kizlari" (Daughters of Mr. Hulusi) by Müzeyyen Engin Erim, "Bekir Olayi" (Bekir Case) by Nuri Güngör, "Giordano Bruno" by Erhan Gökgücü, "Sanatçinin Çlümü" (Death of an Artist) and "Dev Masali" (Gaint's Tale) by Yilmaz Onay, "Yalniz Bir Kadin" (A lonely Woman) by Semra Çzdamar, "Kadinciklar" (Those Women) by Tuncer Cücenoglu, "Bir Garip Orhan Veli" (Poor Orhan Veli) and "Taziye" (Condolences) by Murathan Mungan, "Muammer Muammer", "Batakhane Güzeli" (Beauty of the Gambling Den) by Erman Canatan, "Yasasin Edebiyat" (Long Live Literature) adapted from Sait Faik and Orhan Veli by Kerim Afsar, "Gölge Ustasi" (Master of the Shadow) by Yesim Dorman Müderrisoglu and Yildirim Türker, "Rüzgarli Kadin" (Wuthering Woman) by Çzer Arabul, "Ferhangi Seyler"(Any Odd Thing) and "Içinden Tramvay Geçen Sarki" (The song through which a train passes) by Ferhan Sensoy.

Some of the plays written by some Turkish authors from 1950 on are being translated into foreign languages and staged by foreign theatre groups. From 1982 on, the State has tried to support private theatres, within the framework of the regulations determined by the Ministry of Culture, so that they can preserve their artistic existence and continue to perform.

Bibliography:

AND, Metin, Geleneksel Türk Tiyatrosu (Traditional Turkish Theatre). Ankara: Bilgi Publishing House, 1969.
Tanzimat ve Istibdat Döneminde Türk Tiyatrosu (Turkish Theatre in the Rule of Despotism). Ankara: Türkiye Is Bankasi Publications, 1972.
Mesrutiyet Döneminde Türk Tiyatrosu Turkish (Theatre During the Constitutional Era). Ankara: Türkiye Is Bankasi Cultural Publications, 1971.
Elli Yilin Türk Tiyatrosu (Fifty Years of Turkish Theatre). Istanbul: Türkiye Is Bankasi Cultural Publications, 1973.
Tiyatro Kilavuzu (Directory of the Theatre). Milliyet Publications, 1973.
Türk Tiyatrosunun Evreleri (Phases of Turkish Theatre). Ankara: Turhan Publications, 1983.
KARADAG, Nurhan, Köy Seyirlik Oyunlari (Village Plays). Ankara: Is Bankasi Cultural, Tisa Printing House, 1978.
NUTKU, Özdemir, Dünya Tiyatrosu Tarihi (History of World Theatre) Volume 1. Ankara: Ankara University Faculty of Letters Publications, 1971.
NUTKU, Özdemir, Dünya Tiyatrosu Tarihi (History of World Theatre) Volume 2. Ankara: Ankara University Faculty of Letters Publications, 1972.
SENER, Sevda, Çagdas Türk Tiyatrosunda Ahlak, Ekonomi, Kültür Sorunlari (Problems of Ethics, Economy and Culture in Contemporary Turkish Theatre). Ankara: Ankara University Faculty of Letters Publications, 1971.
Çagdas Türk Tiyatrosunda Insan (The Human Element in Contemporary Turkish Theatre). Ankara: Ankara University Faculty of Letters Publications, 1972.

Reference: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey

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