Der Prozess, Kafka’s remarkable work of literature, tells the story of humankind in twentieth century which is also known as the age of fear. It’s as not popular as Die Verwandlung, yet it’s possible to see the same metaphoric language and dark atmosphere surrounding the novel. As soon as I heard that novel was dramatized by Bilkent Drama Atelier, I went to see it on the stage. This would be quite a different performance, as I had never seen any work of Kafka on a theatre stage.
The play is about a man named K. who wakes up in a morning and realizes that he is sued by someone for something that he doesn’t know what. He is a common man, working in a common bank and living in a common rest house. However, one day, his routine life totally changes. Two men come his house and say that he is arrested. The case is complicated and shocking as well. He is never informed which crime he has committed and which rule he has violated in law. Everybody he comes across accepts him as a criminal but he is free to do his daily routine. Court procedures are applied somewhere away. No one can see behind the scenes. Although the prosecution process takes many years, no one is acquitted. K. does whatever he can in order to going for an appeal, he takes everyone’s advice around him, but nothing can be effective. At the end of the play, he meets a priest who claims that K. doesn’t understand anything. The priest shots him down and K. is dead.
Along the play, a case is mentioned anyone doesn’t think what it really is. Everyone is nervous and hopeless. A depressive tone pervades the whole play. Normally, it’s possible to find K.’s thought of his own situation in the original novel. In the process of dramatizing, an extremely successful and aesthetic way is preferred to share this thought with the audience. There are two prisoners kept in barred cells. They are dressed in white and black striped clothes and their face are painted white. Their eyes are always wide open and they look at the audience with dismay. We can hear K.’s thought from these people’s mouths. These living figures speak in such a mechanic and disturbing tone that the dark atmosphere pervading the play is strengthen. I am attracted by especially this part of the play, it is well concerned.
To give extended information about the stage, everywhere is black, corresponding the gloomy atmosphere of the play. Furniture like tables and chairs are modest. As the places are always changing through the play, the setting is also supposed to change. Bilkent Drama Atelier finds a nice way to do that. Whenever the setting is supposed to change, the light on the stage are dimmed and in the dim light, properties are replaced with the help of technical team behind the scene. At the same time, a sound base which is corresponding to the gloomy air of the play is listened to the audience. Actually, a regular theatre audience is accustomed to it, yet Bilkent Drama Atelier does it in such a good way that I can’t help appreciating it.
The one and only criticism about the play would be related to the acting performances of the players. They are not professional theatre actors and actresses, of course, but I know that they get a diction education at the very beginning of the atelier workshop. Based on this information, I can say that many of them fail to articulate the words properly. This make the audience feel uncomfortable and distract. If they solve this problem, I believe that they will put much more successful works in performance.
In the novel, the reader is never informed what the case is really about. Thus the readers have to realize by means of reasoning and imagination that the case is highly related to the existence of human being. However, in the play any clue is given to the audience about the case, but the reader can make the expected interpretation due to the dark and depressive atmosphere which are strictly kept through the whole play. It’s possible to sense that there is a certain problem with the existence of human being. The problem is not only about the existence, he criticizes insincere relation among man and corrupted social institutions and god. At the beginning of this writing, I mentioned the age of fear. Kafka tries to show us that how fear directs our relationship between social institutions and god. Because of the fear, we avoid questioning the ultimate reason of these authorities in our life. We fear they would threaten or damage our existence on earth. Thus, we leave no stone unturned to deserve their respect, although this costs our lives and our self-respect.
At the end of the play, K.’ is shot by the priest whom he goes to demand help. This shooting scene is presented in quite a realistic way, they use a blank cartridge. The pace of the play is at the top to the end of the play. I liked the dramatization of Kafka’s Der Prozess presented by Bilkent Drama Atelier. It is an original but hard choice to dramatize, but they overcome it in a very successful way.
Meltem Aydın (ELIT III)