State Theaters asked to call off rehearsals, performances

State Theaters asked to call off rehearsals, performances

Umut Erdem - ANKARA
State Theaters asked to call off rehearsals, performances

Non-governmental organizations of art institutions have released statements and asked the cancelation of rehearsals and performances following the death of the State Theater’s (DT) stage and costume designer Ali Cem Köroğlu because of COVID-19 at the age of 62 last week.

Non-governmental organizations of the arts institutions, made up of employees of DT and the State Opera and Ballet (DOB), are worried about COVID-19 due to continuing rehearsals and performances.

In a statement, the State Theater, Opera and Ballet Employees Foundation (TOBAV) said that Köroğlu died in a hospital in Ankara, where he had been treated for coronavirus. “Performing arts gave its first victim to the coronavirus despite all our warnings. It looks like it will increase even more. We invite the necessary authorities to stop the rehearsals and performances at DT.”

Köroğlu was working for the stage design of the play “Karıncalar-Bir Savaş Vardı,” which premiered last week at the İzmir State Theaters.

“During the pandemic, none of our art institutions could make a decision considering our professional characteristics. Our employees, who survived the coronavirus, have permanent respiratory problems. The problem of the respiratory system, which is the most important element of our profession, means that we cannot perform this profession again. Ali Cem Köroğlu left us because the institution managers did not believe in it. Of course, it will not bring back what we have lost, but sensitivity can be provided for the rest.”

The Istanbul City Theater Artists Association (İŞTİSAN), Kültür Sanat Sen trade union for culture and arts employees and Theater Actors Professional Association (TOMEB) have shared a joint statement. The statement is as follows:

“Despite the COVID-19 measures imposed on the staff of theaters, the increasing number of positive cases has reached worrying levels. In addition, the continuation of the contamination during the incubation period of the disease for five to eight days without showing symptoms, the rehearsals carried out without masks and without social distancing during this period, and the plays performed on stages endanger the health of our employees. Our workshops at the Istanbul State Theater were closed due to the pandemic. The regional theaters, which are already working with a limited actor and technical staff, cannot work because of the rapidly increasing positive cases and the quarantine process of their contacts. Among the COVID-19 measures imposed by the General Directorate of State Theaters, despite the statement that ‘plays with few staff will be staged for the audience during the pandemic,’ plays are played with crowded staff. Recently, after the premiere of a one-man play at the İzmir State Theater, the actor got sick and his test was positive. Also, the director of the play, assistant director, decor and costume designer, and the entire technical team of the play, who were in contact with him, were positive, too. This situation risks the life of all employees. We invite the authorities to stop the rehearsals and performances at DT.”

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