Gathering Momentum: Türkiye’s Independent Theater in President Erdoğan’s Near-Autocracy

There are two extra performs that deserve particular point out for a extra common attraction illustrative of Türkiye’s esoteric tradition while being anchored within the areas between important principle and fresh appearing arts: the dance items We ,biz) and This is a Mountain Story ,Sar, Experimenting Weproduced by way of Cafetürcafter gazing text-heavy works, was once one thing of a revelation—even though it’ll were extra of a revelation for any person like me who’s unused to semah dance and the philosophies of Alawi-Bektashi (an Islamic Sufi mystic motion). The piece featured 3 males and one reside musician, Cem Yildiz, who was once reinterpreting the Anatolian aşık tune custom the usage of extra psychedelic and acid components. Its narrative was once built across the topics of loss and the conclusion that “we undo one another,” impressed by way of textual content from Judith Butler’s Precarious Life,

As with the apply of Belarus Free Theater, which makes use of bodily efficiency to attract audiences nearer to the performers, this display explored “kinesthetic empathy.” The male dancers had been bodily entwined with one every other in a way that might no longer be outlined as homoerotic or heterosocial and begged us to have sympathy. It was once additionally imaginable to concentrate on the tactility of the our bodies offered onstage in a style of, consistent with Bedirhan Dehmen from Cafetürc, bodily listening or “combining the mundane-interpersonal with the spiritual-transcendental.”

Such was once the revel in of gazing This is a Mountain Storyak, produced by way of dance corporate ak, about two buddies rising up in the similar tradition ,on a mountain” the place there’s a ,tale” that Turkish audiences don’t seem to be so unfamiliar with. All of those are euphemisms for the Armenian Genocide, which nonetheless can’t be named on Turkish phases. The mountain refers to Mount Ararat, the scene of the Turkish-Armenian struggle in 1920, which was once additionally a haven for Kurds within the past due Twenties from the Turkish state.

At this second within the piece, one guy enters within the darkness and hauls himself below an enormous sheet of paper, masking all the taking part in area at Bahçeşehir University’s theater. In time, together with his frame, he molds the paper into an enormous mountain and lifts it onto his shoulders earlier than attempting, effectively, to scrunch it up right into a black bin sack. The impact is esoteric, catastrophic, and metaphorical for the haphazard, careless method wherein humankind treats itself and all lifestyles.

There had been many extra displays within the pageant which deserve a point out however which there’s no longer area to delve deeper into: Under the Castleproduced by way of Fiziksel Tiyatro Araştırmaları, a buffoon clown piece about two laundry girls,s tackle Macbeth; Song of the Lusitanian Bogey, produced by way of CAS corporate, which instigated a heated debate about race in Türkiye; Bulgakov,s Heart of a Dog ,Kopek Kalbi by way of Küçük Salon), a surreal expressionistic experimental piece; Godot Doesn’t Come to Us ,Godot Bize Gelmez by way of corporate Karagöz Sanat Atölyesi), a funny adult-oriented puppet display; Macbeth by way of Tiyatro BeReZe corporate, every other experimental Macbeth translation; gomidas, which makes a speciality of a composer suffering all through the Armenian Genocide; and The Belly-dancer ,Dansöz by way of Mek’an corporate), a display concerning the male gaze.

Salta informed me that the pageant has ambitions to amplify to different towns in Türkiye and to incorporate extra voices from marginalized teams such because the Kurds, Syrians, and different refugees who don,t have a voice within the nation. She maintains that theater will have to lift on asking questions concerning the previous, make peace with it, and lend a hand create a brand new Türkiye—despite the truth that the Gezi Park tournament was once a catalyst for the federal government of the day to select a special, darker trail.

The unbiased sector is a part of a emerging pattern that has been amassing at the shores of trade for 20 years. It can, and can, develop in momentum. Many of its displays have already been invited to theater fairs in Poland, Israel, Bulgaria, and Romania. It will even inspire its audiences to consider Türkiye’s difficult and checkered previous and reconnect them with forgotten historic heroes and heroines who stay startlingly trendy.

In an e-mail, Başar writes to me that in spite of a fear that the artists popping out of the 2010s have grow to be well-known and are mainstream, “there are also people in their early twenties who are emerging as a generation with their own troubles that they express in the theater medium.” Certainly, this means that the way forward for unbiased theater in Türkiye is being held by way of the younger, in spite of that TheaterIST itself is a mission overseen by way of the elders in Türkiye’s unbiased theater scene.

Many of the productions on this show off had been produced by way of younger other folks vehemently expressing their political and creative will during the theatrical medium. From the confidence of BGST corporate, who continuously take the federal government to court docket, to the quiet decision of Altıdan Sonra Tiyatro corporate, to the experimentalism of the group in the back of The Twelfth House, unbiased theater is getting a grip on Türkiye’s near-authoritarian society. And TheaterIST itself—which proposes to go back subsequent yr with all its provocations, deep wondering, and birthday party of Turkish society—indubitably merits higher protection from global critics at some point.

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