The Yeditepe University Theater, created by employees of Yeditepe University, will perform Nazım Hikmet's Legend of the War of Independence.
The Yeditepe University Theater was founded by Yeditepe University Vice Rector Prof. Dr. Tülay Baran and the Head of the Theater Department Prof. Dr. Metin Balay. At the beginning, even though players were puzzled with questions like "Will it work? How far will it go?", they managed to stage Nazim Hikmet's Legend of the War of Independence today.
Directed by Prof. Dr. Metin Balay, the group was unaware of the fact that the “meticulous working experience” from their own professions unintentionally made some of the actors “assistant directors”, while others became communicators, some others took on the task of delivering texts to the actors, some reflected their acting experience outside the university, and others combined the stage dust from this play with their memories from their high school years.
During a visit, we talked to Prof. Dr. Metin Balay'a about the Yeditepe University Theater:
"Balay, Put a Play on Stage, and I'll Play the Butler"
- How did you decide to establish the Yeditepe University Theater?
Once when I was with our Vice Rector Prof. Dr. Tülay Baran to solve a crisis, she suggested that the Yeditepe University Theater Department Theater put the "Legend of the War of Independence" on stage. The idea of staging a play with a group of employees was in my mind for years. The late Ahmet Serpil (Founding Rector of Yeditepe University Prof. Dr. Ahmet Serpil) used to joke and say "Balay, put a play on stage, and I will play the butler there." When I opened the idea to Tülay Baran, she liked it very much. By making an announcement we started our journey of staging this play with our employees. Employees take one hour of lunch and one hour from their working hours twice a week for rehearsals. When the play is close to staging, the rehearsal hours will increase a little more. We played a part of the play on November 10th, and we only had 30 hours of rehearsals for it. This was also very valuable to us. Everyone performed exceptionally well.
- Did you do auditions among the employees who wanted to attend?
Hayır, hiç eleme yapmadım. Katılmak isteyen herkese halen daha kapımız açık. Çünkü burada istek, heyecan, katılma isteği çok önemli. Biz o isteği, yaptığımız işte muhakkak ki değerlendirebiliriz, diye düşünüyorum. Üniversitemizin değişik birimlerinden gelen insanları bir platformda birleştiren, her bireye bir artı değer katan bir proje. Ben bu projeyi kurum kimliğinin oluşması ve kuruma aidiyet fikrinin pekişmesi açısından da çok önemli buluyorum.
- Did employees discover different aspects of themselves during rehearsals?
Our actors, I think, now have very clear ideas about the stage. They are aware of how hard it is, how much effort it takes, and this helped them to be very disciplined.
“The Premiere will be in February.”
- When and where do you plan to stage the play?
We want to premiere the play mid-February at our university. We think it should be presented to the public. I wanted to add to the motto of the university and make it the motto of our theater. "The Yeditepe University Theater, which continues the Renaissance of Ataturk with its students, faculty members and employees, is staging the Legend of the War of Independence by Nazım Hikmet ..."
- I think the employees also carry the pride of staging the Legend of the War of Independence
The most important reason why we choose this play was that it is one of the best texts to express our corporate identity. We would like to publicly stage it later on March 18th, April 23rd, May 19th at other venues in Istanbul. We would like to present it at anniversary of the foundation of İSTEK in April to representatives of İSTEK schools. We can visit all or some parts of the ISTEK schools. All or selected parts of the play can be used in pieces at promotional events. With our students and our employees we keep our university mission, which is to continue the Atatürk Renaissance. This makes us all proud to be part of this institution.
It’s the actors that are emphasized, not the director.
- Is there a student whose performance is better than the others?
I never look at it that way. Each player who works here has a distinct feature. I have an understanding that puts the player at the center of the theater and not the director. My purpose and working style is to make a staging where everyone can find their personal characteristic and put it out. I see that each of our actors did it well, everyone is on stage in a way that they can use their talents to the end.
- Has theater education have an effect on their daily lives?
It gives them a pleasure to be dealing with creative work here. My guess is that this allows them to be more creative and more harmonious in their daily lives. Their faces are glowing, they are very happy to be here. This is already very precious to me. I hope that Yeditepe University Theater becomes a permanent theater in this process. It will also create other things that will define it. My goal is to make this a structure that can run by itself. Maybe this will become the first theater in Turkey that stages plays with its students, employees and faculty members. There are theater clubs, but students are working there. There is no other theater where employees, students and faculty members work together.
"The Professor Gave Us Soul"
Following Prof. Dr. Metin Balay, we talked to the actors:
Meftune Yüce: I have experience on stage, but I only sang. Despite being a good theater audience, being in a theater play was not among the things I wanted to do. Together with Prof. Balay we found out that the play was going to be the Legend of the War of Independence. This idea came out while resolving an issue in Prof. Tülay’s office. I had to join because I was there, too (laughs). It is very exciting to be on stage ... It is very hard to memorize everything. I’m happy to be here. I hope that we do a lot of things here for a long time.
Meltem Şimşek:I have been in the theater department since primary school, but I took a break in my university years. This was meant to happen today. I am proud to be part of this theater group at our university. I'm happy to be here. I was on stage for the first time on November 10th after I had a 10-year break. It was a very pleasant and honorable feeling for me. So I’m very excited about the rest of the play.
Tolgahan Acar:It is very enjoyable to be in the same environment with the employees. I have incredibly enjoyed being in this group organized by Prof. Balay for the purpose of increasing communication between the employees. I have no experience on stage. So we work with an amateur spirit, and a professional trainer. We are striving to reflect to the stage what we get from him. I’m a little nervous but feel maximum efficiency. Being on stage is also nice for me, I’m open to offers.
Filiz Düşünceli:I have been working in HR for 10 years. I was always thinking and intending to take part in such a project. I acted in primary, secondary and high school, but I had to take a break at university. I have not been on stage for years. I was very happy to hear that Prof. Balay was leading this organization. I joined this team later. I am very happy, proud and honored to be here right now.
Barbaros Fırıldak:: I have been working in this institution for 19 years. I have previously starred in Badi (Turkish E.T. 1983), and the TV Shows “Doctors” and “Cennet Neighborhood” as well as many other shows. Now I’m acting in a commercial. I want to thank Prof. Balay and Prof Baran for this organization. When the mail announcement was made, I thought that I should take part in this and decided to join.
Burcu Kasapoğlu:After a mail announcement, I decided to join the group by curiosity. "Let’s see what’s going to happen" I said. Like many people in this group, I was also interested in theater in my school years and I know the lure of the stage in that sense. It started with curiosity, but I had never guessed that it would be coming to this point. What I've been experiencing since the end of September was not something I could have ever guessed. This is a place where we find peace of mind and can escape all the hustle and bustle. This is a beautiful adventure, it seem like we will do more beautiful things.
Başak Şentürk:When I was young, I found the Legend of the War of Independence in the library at home and I tried to read and understand it. I was probably in elementary school and even then I was very impressed, I remember crying, especially in the poem of Kambur Kerim ... I acted in my primary and secondary school years. Later, I quit when I started to study for the university exam. Many years later, thanks to my advisor, Burcu, I became aware of this community. I was very excited when I watched the performance on November 10th.
Ceren Ünek: : I have never had an experience with the theater before, but I loved it so much that I had been following it. I was thrilled to be able to do more than just watching it when I heard that there was such an organization. We are also proud to be staging the work of Nazım Hikmet. We also learning a lot from our trainer professor. At the same time this added a very nice energy and color to my life.
Emirhan Öztürk: I also joined the team later. On November 10th, at our university, I was one of the audience giving the standing ovation and I want to be part of this community. I asked my friends about how I could participate in this group. One day, I pursued the announcement mail to come here. I’m happy I came. I am a good theater audience, I always sat in the front rows at the theaters I went to, so it is very enjoyable for me to be on stage, to be in the play and to see how it’s all done.
Serhat Özkan:Because I do not check my e-mails very often, I did not see the announcement e-mail. I was very excited when a friend told me about the theater group being established. I’m very happy that he did. I came in and at first I did not think we could come up with such a good play. A few weeks later I started to enjoy it very much. I especially enjoyed Meftune’s singing. The university is not just a place to study or learn vocational, technical education or national moral values. The creation of this theater group is one of the elements that make Yeditepe a university.
Yavuz Fırıldak:I am a Yeditepe University Department of Plastic Arts and Theater graduate. I'm still studying at the master’s program. Prof. Balay is my advisor. We had nice days with Prof. Balay. I also learned about this community via the mail announcement. When I found out that Prof. Balay was the director, I joined the group immediately. Being on stage is very exciting, every new play is a new excitement. Getting a taste of the stage is a pleasurable feeling. Establishing this community is a good idea and we are trying to keep it going.