Performing arts and theater facilities that closed their curtains early due to the pandemic will reopen one month earlier this year, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Özgül Özkan Yavuz said.
Yavuz spoke with Anadolu Agency (AA) about the art activities scheduled this summer during the normalization period and the details of the 2020-2021 art season. Noting that theaters, operas and ballets and symphony orchestras affiliated with the ministry closed their curtains in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Yavuz stated that the worst situation for artists is not being able to perform in front of an audience. She said that they want to effectively evaluate outdoor spaces during the normalization period.
Indicating that they have been working on the "truck theater" project being carried out by the State Theaters for eight months, Yavuz noted that they have made a huge theater stage on a truck and they have completed the project's investment and production process.
The truck theater will go to 57 districts in 25 provinces in eastern and southeastern Anatolia during a 50-day period from July 1 to Aug. 20, Yavuz said. “We will bring four children's plays to our children who have never been to a theater in the most remote districts. We are doing this in cooperation with our governorships and district governorships in the open air. We have made the truck a stage. It has been turned into a professional stage, not a simple thing. It will be a series of events where children can watch theater in the open air,” she said.
The truck theater project will start in the capital Ankara. Two neighborhoods from two disadvantaged districts of the capital city were selected for the debut performances. In addition, Yavuz said, the Konya State Theater will carry out another special project in the open air and will stage children's plays in provinces, districts and villages in Konya.
Giving them the good news that they will establish a stage in the open air at the State Theaters Ankara Irfan Şahinbaş Campus, Yavuz added: “Our theater performances will be regularly shown at Ankara Irfan Şahinbaş Campus in July. Ankara’s residents will be able to watch theater in the open air in summer evenings. Culture and arts have great benefits for human psychology. I think it will be a good morale booster.”
Expressing that open-air activities that started last year in Bodrum will continue this year, Yavuz pointed out that they will bring together local and foreign visitors at 10 concerts and three theater performances at the Bodrum Castle and Antique Theater. According to Yavuz, the event schedule has been set and Ankara State Theater will present “Reis Bey” on July 12, Bursa State Theater “Akide Şekeri” on Aug. 26-27 and Izmir State Theater “Kantocu” on Sept. 7-8. The ministry is also working on ancient cities where culture and art meet.
Yavuz also stated that opera and ballet festivals held by State Opera and Ballet and followed with great pleasure by domestic and foreign art enthusiasts will be held this year, adding: “We have changed the schedule because of the pandemic, and we are announcing it for the first time. We are holding our festivals. We are launching our festivals at the International Ephesus Opera and Ballet Festival on July 17-29. We will hold the 18th International Bodrum Ballet Festival on Aug. 4-8, and International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival on Sept. 1-22.”
Emphasizing that there will not be much international turnout this year, Yavuz said: “We have six state operas and ballets. There are works with high-level performances. We have postponed the 11th Istanbul Opera Festival to Sept. 23 to Oct. 5.” Indicating that events will be held in the open air in Ephesus, Bodrum and Aspendos, Yavuz noted that they are exploring options for Istanbul. “Until then, we will see how the process will proceed with the pandemic. We do not want an interruption in festivals, and we will hold them in accordance with all the measures issued by our Ministry of Health and our Science Board. We are also making our physical spaces fit for that,” she said.
Yavuz emphasized that theater stages, concert halls, opera and ballet halls at all art facilities of the ministry are preparing for the new season as part of the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. She explained that they have prepared a protocol for the halls and improved the conditions of air conditioning in these areas and that they have determined the number of spectators and how the audience will be admitted to the halls, and they have maximized general hygiene rules. Moreover, all the rules for the three head offices and all art institutions have been rearranged, in addition to major improvements to the protection of the health of artists, determination of distancing, how many hours will be left before and after representations and how many hours of cleaning will be done.
Underlining that the pandemic continues to be a problem all over the world, the deputy minister said: “However, we have to continue our lives. We are increasing our measures. We need to take our measures and continue our social relations. Culture, art and tourism are precious. We will hold our activities in safer environments. Our state has offered its facilities to our citizens in any environment. As the ministry, we will continue to meet our citizens together with all of our institutions.”