World Theatre Day March 27th

Theatre has been part of life since Sophoclean times and life without theatre proved to be only incomplete, dark and unbearable when playwrights were banned to produce works for the theatre. Words put into the characters mouths, action, music, lighting, costumes and stage designs help us to be involved in the lives created, even tailored for about two hours, yet we know too well for a lifetime.

On March 27th, theatergoers will see 27 plays free of charge. Ankara State Theatre announces that tickets can be taken from the ticket box offices starting from March 14th.  At Ankara Big Theatre Kerbela, written by Ali Berktay and directed by Ayşe Emel Mesçi is staged.  At Şinasi Theatre Kırmızı (Red), a play by John Logan, translated by  Eray Eserol and directed by  İskender Altın can be seen. At Small Theatre  Moliere’s play George Dandin, which is translated by Sema Kuray and directed by Philip Boulay is staged. At Akün Stage Fosforlu Cevriye, a musical performance, written by Suat Derviş, adapted and directed by  Gülriz Sururi can be seen. At  Altındağ Theatre Hatice Meryem’s play Sinek Kadar Kocam Olsun Başımda Bulunsun, which is edited and directed by Funda Mete is staged. At Stüdyo Stage Bir Delinin Hatıra Defteri (Diary of a Madman), a short story by Nikolai Gogol, which is adapted by Sylvie Luneau and Roger Coggio, translated by Coşkun Tunçtan and directed by Cem Emüler can be seen. At  Oda Theatre Yosunlar written  by  Şahin Ergel and directed by Murat Çıdamlı is staged. At  Çayyolu Cüneyt Gökçer Theatre Aristophanes’ Barış (Peace)  which is adapted and directed by Yücel Erten can be seen. 

On the other side of the world, in the States, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), home of the U.S. Center of the International Theatre Institute (ITI-US), will commemorate the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day with a special message to be delivered by actor John Malkovich. Malkovich, an Emmy-winner and double Oscar nominee, is the fourth U.S. artist to be selected to write the UNESCO address, after Edward Albee, the late Arthur Miller and Ellen Stewart.

On March 22, 2012, John Malkovich delivered his international message at UNESCO in Paris at a gala event that included readings of play excerpts with Malkovich and other theatre artists. Here is Malkovich’s introductory remarks that reveal his amazement upon being asked to give a speech this year on the World Theatre Day:

I'm honored to have been asked by the International Theatre Institute ITI at UNESCO to give this greeting commemorating the 50th anniversary of World Theatre Day. I will address my brief remarks to my fellow theatre workers, peers and comrades.
May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life's work. And may the best of you - for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments - succeed in framing that most basic of questions, "how do we live?" Godspeed.

- John Malkovich


Charles Dickens Day Rescheduled for March 22nd, Thursday

Charles Dickens Day, which was scheduled for February 29th, 2012 Wednesday
has been cancelled due to bad weather conditions. We would like to thank our followers for
their understanding and patience about this compulsory delay.

Here is the new date for the event:

On Thursday, March 22nd, the Department of English Language and
Literature (ELIT) will hold "Dickens Day," a day-long event to mark the
bicentenary of Charles Dickens's birth (February 7, 1812).  Dickens Day
will feature scholarly discussions as well as a dramatic reading and a
film screening.  All events will take place at the C-Block amphitheater.
Dickens readers and fans are welcome to any or all of the sessions.

We look forward to seeing all those interested in literature, novel,
Charles Dickens in particular on Dickens Day (March 22, Thursday).

Schedule of events is as follows:

9:00-9:15 Opening Remarks by Prof. Talat Halman, Dean of Humanities

9:15-9:30 Brief Introduction on Dickens by Dr. Valerie Kennedy

9:30-10:40 Papers by Dr. Margaret Sonmez (METU), Dr. Valerie Kennedy
(Bilkent Uni.), Dr. Ayse Celikkol (Bilkent Uni.), and Dr. Alev Karaduman
(Hacettepe Uni.) on Dickens and the Problem of the Family

10:40-11:00 Coffee Break

11:00-12:20 Roundtable Discussion by Bilkent ELIT Students on Dickens's
Criticism of Society and Human Behavior

12:20-13:40 Lunch Break

13:40-14:40 A Dramatic Reading of selected Scenes from A Christmas Carol
with Dr. Donald Randall as Scrooge and Bilkent ELIT Students

14:40-15:00 Coffee Break

15:00-17:30 A Screening of Oliver Twist, Directed by Roman Polanski
Hope to be together at C Block Auditorium to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens.



The Department of English Language and Literature recently produced a play, “Blood Wedding” by Federico Garcia Lorca. The premiere of the play was a huge success and attracted the attention of many theatre lovers. Here is an interview with the director, the project manager, and some of the students taking part in the project on their latest production.

-We know that the ELIT department has been staging different plays for three years, and this year you have decided on Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Blood Wedding”? What were your criteria for choosing this particular play?
Gül Kurtuluş: When we first embarked on staging a play in 2009, I thought it would be nice to come up with a comedy. Since Oscar Wilde is quite a renowned writer, and also has the wit, we thought his work, namely “The Importance of Being Earnest” would appeal to many people. Subsequently, we staged a Bernard Shaw play, “Arms and the Man”, which is again a comedy concerned with the issues of war and death. This time I thought it was high time we staged a tragedy. The first dramatist that came to my mind was Shakespeare. Nevertheless, as I shared this idea with my students, I realized that they had certain hesitations and fears about Shakespearean tragedies. Therefore, we switched to Lorca’s play which has an obvious musicality in it; and by musicality I mean his poetic language. Additionally, the themes of the play including the woman question, death, revenge, and feud are still relevant today, so I believed this play would be a nice choice for our new project.

-You are working with a Bilkent graduate, Erdi Mamikoğlu, who is a professional director and playwright. What was your motivation for this collaboration?
Gül Kurtuluş: Since we held an academic conference in 2011 for the first time, to which we gave our priority, we had to put aside the theater project; because for each project we had the same volunteers. When I took theatre into consideration again at the beginning of this academic year, I strongly believed that Erdi should be a part of our project as well. We happened to come across each other a while ago, and I told him about our project and asked him whether he could assist us. By the way, Erdi is one of my former students in ‘Introduction to Drama’ course. Besides, we have a mutual friend, Akif Yeşilkaya, the manager of Ankara state-theatre, to whom I need to give some credit, as well. Through this acquaintance, we got the chance to work together.

-How long have you been rehearsing for the premiere, and are you satisfied with the performances of ELIT students?
Erdi Mamikoğlu: Absolutely! I guess we have been rehearsing since October, generally three times a week; so that makes it a four / four and a half month rehearsal period. They have made an incredible improvement as you might notice during the play. Of course you do not know the early stages of our rehearsals in terms of performance, but you can all guess. However, their current performances are genuinely quite impressive. They have come a long way!

-“Blood Wedding” is a tragedy that has underlying surrealism in it. What was your interpretation process like?
Erdi Mamikoğlu: Our writer is already a surrealist one, so we basically make use of what he offers us in the text. We have (the personifications of) the Death, the Moon; and honestly I think it is one of the plays that can easily be staged surrealistically. Besides, we do not necessarily have to cry in each tragedy.

-You are an award-winning playwright and have become the youngest person ever whose plays are staged by state-theaters. Could you tell us about your upcoming projects?
Erdi Mamikoğlu: My latest play, “Nobody’s Story” is still being staged in Bursa state theatre, and also in Istanbul, there are preparations going on for a new production in a private theater. Actually, the play is being turned into a movie right now, and the shootings will start this summer. Currently, this is our only project.

-Will your department continue these kinds of projects, and if yes, are there any specific projects you have in mind?
Gül Kurtuluş: I think theatre is a part of what we do. That is, literature students are naturally very much into arts. Our students all have distinctive expectations from the department that are shaped either before their university years or during the education they receive at Bilkent University. Accordingly, we do have other projects in relation with, say, translation studies or more academic studies. Back to the issue of theatre, I think visualizing the plays or giving life to fictional characters that we have been studying in our department is a nice ambition. We do not aspire to be as professional as an actor/ess, nor do we want to fall short of expectations. In future, we will definitely be considering each project that we can handle as a team.

-Considering your academic background, how hard was it for you to stage a play professionally?
Erolcan Talas: The frequency of rehearsals has tired us both physically and mentally especially for the last fifteen days; even so the play has turned out to be a great meditation for us, especially in order to escape our daily-life struggles.
Ülkem Önal: It was quite a big opportunity to work with a professional director, because we had to adopt ourselves to his working schedule and methods, and that made us all professionals to a significant extent.

-Did literature help you penetrate the depths of your characters and themes?
Erolcan Talas: Indeed! Especially when you think of gender politics and artificially constructed gender roles that have been craftily imposed on us, it is impossible to ignore the effect of literature, because these issues have always been major topics in our curriculum.
Ülkem Önal: The play is highly concerned with the dynamics of patriarchy. Especially my character, the mother of bridegroom, is a perfect reflection of a typical patriarchal society. Thus, our education has enabled us to understand the themes, and also the symbols and messages given by Lorca.
Erolcan Talas: Blood Wedding is quite a serious play that has occasional surrealist elements, so I cannot imagine how the play would turn out unless we were unable to recognize these details.