Debates continue on theater regulations

Debates continue on theater regulations

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Debates continue on theater regulations

A group of actors held a demonstration on April 18 in front of the Muhsin Ertuğrul Theater, owned by the City Theater to protest municipality’s new regulations. DHA photo

The Writers Union of Turkey’s (TYB) Istanbul Branch made a written statement on April 19, saying the union is pleased with the new regulations governing the City Theaters, especially those concerned with the committee to select future programs. This committee will be made up of members from Istanbul’s cultural associations, as well as universities, according to the Anatolia news agency.

The statement said the new regulations would get the public more involved with theater, and save it from its reputation of artistic snobbery: “We hope that this restructuring, which we have awaited for years, will be an important step towards bringing the values of our people to the theatrical stage.”

The statement continued: “The City Theaters are affiliated with the Metropolitan Municipality, but their management is not at the disposal of the municipality. By catering to domineering local managers, the theater has until now been operated by only a select few. This structure, which is out of touch with the public and ignores what the majority of people want to see [in the theater], underestimates religious people and allows for humiliating criticism of them … The City Theaters, which have the power to stage plays to a world-class standard, should open their doors to young writers and allow their work to appear on the world stage with plays based on [local] culture. We all want to see the City Theaters be self-confident, hopeful for future and not ashamed of the past. We welcome the City Theaters’ goal of staging a wide range of repertoire with the participation of associations, foundations and universities.”

‘Art should ne independent’

Meanwhile, speaking in an interview with daily Milliyet, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said he had not even thought of intervening in the issue of art direction in the City Theaters. “This is not the affair of the Ministry and therefore I don’t want to enter the discussion. Of course art should be independent, but as far as I understand, sometimes expressions that do not exist in the script are used on the stage. Political jokes against the Prime Minister and the President are made, or street language is used. The municipality has been warned about such things. Artists should be considerate of society’s sensibilities. Also, in the new regulations, a seven-member committee will determine the repertoire, and since five out of them will be from the art world, in my opinion, there will be no serious artistic interventions.”

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s new regulations on the artistic management of the Istanbul City Theaters, which will change the structure of the administrative committee, drew a great deal of reaction this week. It resulted in the resignation of the City Theaters’ artistic director Ayşe Nil Şamlıoğlu and six members of the administrative board. A group of actors held a demonstration on April 18 in front of the Muhsin Ertuğrul Theater, owned by the City Theaters.