The 23rd Istanbul Theater Festival, organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) under the sponsorship of Koç Holding Energy Group companies Aygaz, Opet and Tüpraş, is preparing to meet theater enthusiasts from Nov. 13 to Dec. 1.
The 23rd Istanbul Theater Festival will host a total of 78 performances by 28 theater, dance and performance ensembles,12 from abroad and 16 from Turkey, as well as free side events such as closet dramas, interviews, workshops and masterclasses under the scope of the Learning and Development Program.
This year, the festival's theme is "life upside down." The festival seeks to answer questions such as "Where is the stage? "and "Who is the player?" as part of its program consisting of performances with an unusual staging technique and structure in which the generally accepted patterns of performing arts are questioned.
The 23rd Istanbul Theater Festival Honorary Awards will be presented to writer, theater actor and director Ferhan Şensoy, stage designer Metin Deniz and director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota.
Besides, the Istanbul Theater Festival's cooperation with the Golden Mask Russian Performing Arts Festival that started last year continues with four different Russian productions this year. In addition to being a prestigious theater award event for all productions of the art of theater, the Golden Mask Russian Performing Arts Festival, which hosts the most important performances from all over Russia in every spring, marked its 25th anniversary this year.
Golden Mask Istanbul will feature "Every Direction is North," staged with the interpretation of seven talented dancers of the Moscow Ballet, an innovative dance ensemble who combine contemporary dance and ballet with their unique artistic vision; "The Circus," the striking musical by Maxim Didenko, the new-generation director of Russia's long-established theater – Theater of Nations – who has made a name for himself and who comes to the fore with his stage designs; and the "Iranian Conference" by Ivan Vyrypaev, who presents a different perspective on the contemporary issues of the Middle East. "Yevgeni Onegin," the unique work of Pushkin, who is considered the "founder" of the contemporary Russian literature, completed in seven years, with the rendition of the master players of Russia's historical and long-established Vaktangov Theater and Lithuanian star director Rimas Tuminas.
Groundbreaking international productions
"Being Faust-Enter Mephisto," adapted by Benjamin von Blomberg from "Faust," the great work of Goethe, which fictionalized the possibility of being tempted by the desires of the human mind, has been designed by Goethe Institut Kore and Nolgong. "Being Faust - Enter Mephisto" is a game that can be played on smartphones using a variety of virtual and physical game formats.
The directors Anestis Azas and Prodromos Tsinikoris, who work on documentary theater, discuss immigration issues, women's migration to Greece, and the problems faced by immigrant cleaning women in a realistic perspective in their play "Clean City." In the play where immigrant women work as housekeepers in Athens bring their stories to the stage, the stories are conveyed by their real owners.
"Profil Perdu," which will have its world premiere at the festival, is a play that will bring together disciplines such as film, theater and dance. The play, directed by Marco Martins, will bring two bodies together on stage as a repository of memories, intertwined with a multitude of conscious and unconscious reflections that rediscover the boundaries between fiction and reality.
"Ionesco Suite," a brave and creative adaption of the texts of Ionesco by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, who will be awarded the "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the 23rd Istanbul Theater Festival, brings together different texts of the master author in the same play. On the other hand, "Taking Stock," directed by Delphine Ciavaldini, addresses how major crises affect societies through the eyes of a historian and an artist.
This year, three productions will meet the audience at the Istanbul Theater Festival with the support of the Flemish Ministry of Culture and in partnership with Belgium-based Platform 0090 as in the previous year. In "Voicing Pieces," the impressive work of Begüm Erciyas, a Turkish artist living and working in Belgium, the audience will be guided by an audio recording to hear their inner voice in the privacy of a sound booth.
Belgian Ultima Vez, one of the most important dance ensembles in the world, will be the guest of the festival with "TrapTown," a show that deeply affects the audience. Directed and choreographed by Wim Vandekeybus, "TrapTown" is an extraordinary work on the mediocrity of our daily lives. The ensemble, which took part in the Blush festival in 2004, had their name mentioned for many years.
"It's going to get worse and worse and worse, my friend" by famous Belgian dancer and choreographer Lisbeth Gruwez, based on the question "How oratory can influence the masses?" focuses on the power of oratory.
16 domestic plays to meet theater enthusiasts
We will also be watching on the stage Şahika Tekand, the writer and director of "Io," the opening play of the Istanbul Theater Festival. Tekand, the master theater player who carries tragedies and classics to the stage with her unique approach, stages the tragedy of modern people, who are increasingly abandoning the patriarchal world order, their memory and their ability to question, through a poetic order of action.
In addition, "Dünyanın Ortasında Bir Yer" ("Somewhere in the Middle of the World") will be staged by the Tuşba City Theater, which was formed by young people who received theater education for a year within the scope of the project in cooperation with Eastern Anatolia Development Agency and IKSV.
Another two domestic plays to take part at the festival are "Barakalar ve Saraylar" ("Shacks and Palaces"), a unique rendition of Büchner's two striking texts by master director Yücel Erten, produced by Theater Pera, and " Geld-Her Damit," written by German writers Sauter and Bernhard Studlar, directed by Kemal Aydoğan and produced by the Moda Stage.
In "Kadar" ("As Much"), which will be staged at the festival under the direction of Özgül Akıncı, the audience will tour the Kuzguncuk Pier accompanied by three players and witness a series of highlights inspired by "King Lear."
Philip Ridley's "Tender Napalm," produced by "Kusurlu İşler and ikinci kat" theaters and directed by Eyüp Emre Uçaray, will present a section of an ordinary man's chillingly intense relationship with an ordinary woman. "The Sidewalk Sparrow," to be staged by Altıdan Sonra Theater team, is a tribute to Gülriz Sururi. We will watch "The Sidewalk Sparrow" with staging by Yiğit Sertdemir, musical arrangements by Yiğit Özatalay and interpretation by famous player Tülay Günal.
The audience will meet in a fantastic universe at "Bak Sen" ("How Do You Like That"), created by Talin Büyükkürkciyan, Tolga Tüzün and Hazal Döleneken based on their own tales, in which dance, sound and visual arts interact with each other. "Sahibinden Kiralık" ("For Rent"), written by Özen Yula and actualized as closet drama at last year's festival, will be staged with the interpretation of biriken.
In addition, "Incendies" depicting the Lebanese civil war from 1975 to 1990, by writer, director and player Wajdi Mouawad, who was introduced to the festival audience with his "Seuls" in 2017, will be staged with the interpretation of director Murat Daltaban. "Tehran's Dream," the third play in the Turkey Trilogy written by Ceren Ercan, will meet with the festival audience as a closet drama under the direction of Mark Levitas.
Young dancer Ekin Tunçeli's performance "Bir şey" ("A thing"), her own concept and choreography, and dancers Su Güzey and Evrim Akyay's "Kedi kedi" ("Kitty kitty") dance performance will meet dance enthusiasts in a single session that can be attended with a single ticket.
The Istanbul Theater Festival is set to launch the Youth Platform with the support of Anadolu Efes this year. The platform aims to support young people living outside of Istanbul who want to follow the festival and who are interested in theater.
Within the scope of the platform, "Dünyanın Ortasında Bir Yer," written by Özen Yula, will be staged at the 23rd Istanbul Theater Festival by Tuşba City Theater, which has been working in Van since December. The Youth Platform will allow 30 members of the ensemble, who will come to Istanbul to stage their plays at the festival, to watch other plays in the festival program.