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Forgotten (Unutulan), written by Elif Ongan Tekçe, directed by Sanem Öge, staged by Yersiz Kumpanya. Photo: Suna& Koray Tekce.
Articles, Volume 9

Re-writing Theatre History, Performing Forgotten: Three Examples from Istanbul Stages

Re-writing Theatre History, Performing Forgotten: Three Examples from Istanbul Stages
By Eylem Ejder
Arab Stages, Volume 9 (Fall, 2018) 
©2018 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

Theatre in Turkey has arguably changed a lot in recent years if we consider how it dares to present untold and unrepresented stories in a highly affective and creative ways, through form and content as has never before been seen on stage. Some of the most remarkable examples of this trend, which I would like analyze here, are performances questioning the minority, identity, and gender problems, which also involve the field of theatre historiography.

Here I will focus on three performances staged during this theatre season in Istanbul. First, Imagined Performance (Hayal-i Temsil) written by Ahmet Sami Özbudak, directed by Yiğit Sertdemir and staged by the Istanbul Municipal Theatre, brings together, through Armenian make-up artist Dikran’s memories, two noted Muslim actresses, Afife Jale and Bedia Muvahhit, who first dared to appear on stage in the late Ottoman era and who never acted together during their theatre careers. Second, Who is Out There? The Last Hamlet of Mr. Muhsin (Kim Var Orada? Muhsin Bey’in Son Hamlet’I,) written and staged by BGST, brings the construction of modern Turkish theatre history into discussion through the story of the leading theatrical figure Muhsin Ertuğrul. Third and last, Forgotten (Unutulan) written by Elif Ongan Tekçe, directed by Sanem Öge, and staged by Yersiz Kumpanya is a performance inspired by the life of Armenian actress and writer Mari Nıvart, presenting the story of two Armenian actresses who were imprisoned and forgotten in the basement of an old hotel where they served as forced labor to pay their company’s tour debts.

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