Villagers to draw attention to climate change
Villager Ümmiye Koçak, who founded the Arslanköy Women’s Theater Group in the southern province of Mersin and appeared in an ad with the Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo, now is seeking to draw attention to climate change with a new play she is working on with an eight-person team.
Koçak, 62, is working in Arslanköy village in the Toroslar district to stage her latest play, titled “Ana, gökyüzü delinmiş,” which she wrote in one year.
Koçak and her team get up early in the morning, do housework at their respective homes and then recite and rehearse the play. Women in the team aim to raise awareness about climate change by taking the stage both in Turkey and abroad.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Koçak said they were working non-stop to produce the play.
The women involved in the project enjoying being on stage and feel happy because they are role models, Koçak said.
“We recently attended the theater festival in Germany, and it was very important for us. We went to the festival alone. We performed it, and two of our plays were translated into German. If you want something to happen, it happens,” she said.
Koçak said that she has written theater plays for many years and attempts convey to social messages in her works.
Her latest play draws attention to climate change.
“I focus on optimism in my plays. In the new play, we are dealing with climate change because it is not just our problem; it is the world’s problem. I am shouting as much as I can: this world is ours; we need to take good care of it. As a citizen, we have to do our part. We need to stop saying ‘it is not of my business.’
Stating that everyone should plant a tree and protect the forests, Koçak said, “This is such a serious problem that we scream from the summit of the Taurus Mountains: this is not the time to blame someone; this is the time to act together. This problem is solved by acting together. Maybe we are experiencing mild climate change, but people in Africa are starving. We are staging this play for awareness. Let’s protect nature. Nature belongs to all living things.”
Due to the importance of the issue, “We especially want to stage this play abroad. We explain social issues with our own language, accent and life,” she said.
Koçak added that they would continue to write plays to spur social awareness and are looking for a sponsor to support some of the theater’s needs.
Theater actor Fatma Ay said that she has always been interested in theater and now is acting in theater thanks to Koçak.
“Theater never prevents us from doing our daily routine work. We try to give social messages in our plays. Climate change is a problem in the world, and we aim to raise awareness to this problem,” she added.
Born in 1957 in a village in Adana, Koçak was unable to continue her education after primary school in a family with 10 siblings.
After completing primary school, however, she read many books for her own self-development, the first and most crucial being “The Mother” by Maxim Gorky.
Koçak moved to the village of Arslanköy after getting married, and there she formed the “Arslanköy Women’s Theater Group” in 2001 to raise awareness about the lives of women in rural areas.
She later wrote and directed “Wool Doll” after saving the money she earned by working in the fields in Arslanköy.