Amed City Theater continue performing Kurdish plays with the support of its audience
Artists working in institutions that were closed down following the appointment of trustees to the HDP local governments continue their work by their own efforts. The Amed City Theater, formed by performers, has staged many plays since 2016 despite obstacles, restrictions and difficult conditions. Amed Municipality Theater started the new season last week with the 8th Theater Festival in Diyarbakir. There is a lot if interest in the festival.
Talking to Arti Gercek, actress of Amed City Theater and director of the opening play of the festival, "Hema Hema Jin Elîzabeth/Almost Woman: Elizabeth", Berfin Emektar, said that Amed City Theater opened its new season with a festival.
Emektar explained that despite all the constraints, they have continued to operate as Amed City Theater for the past seven years and want to enjoy this season to the fullest. Pointing to the fact that the Amed City Theater is a company that stages a play every weekend, Emektar said: "We will have new repertoire in the new season. We will also be touring. We just returned from our Batman and Van tours and, after the festival, we will tour in Izmir. We have a busy program ahead of us."
A PRIVATE THEATER WITHOUT FUNDING
Amed City Theater is a troupe that performs plays in the Kurdish language. They tour by their own means and have to face obstacles in the cities they visit. Struggling to survive as they depend on their own means and with no funding, Amed City Theater's job is not easy. Emektar explains that they embarked on this journey knowing the difficulties: "After all, we are a private theater without any funding. That's the reason why we have so much to do. We have to work much harder to survive, maybe ten times more than others. You have to find your audience by continuing to produce plays. The first thing you have to do is keep that economic cycle going," she said.
A THEATER WITH AN AUDIENCE
In a city like Diyarbakir, there are not many alternatives. The Amed City Theater is the only theater group in the city that is active in this area. When asked how the audience responds to the performance of Kurdish plays, Emaktar said, "It responds very well. I consider Amed City Theater very lucky in this regard. You see, we are organizing a festival right now. It is very difficult for a private theater that has no financial resources to organize a festival on this scale. The conditions are very challenging because this kind of work involves considerable economic costs. When I was asked in an interview where I get my strength from, I said, "From people." Maybe it's a cliché, but we really get our strength from the people. We get it from the support of the audience as we are a theater company with an audience. That is very important for us. That interest, that sympathy encourages us to do many things. We have an audience that follows our plays, support us, and pick us up when we happen to stumble The support of the audience is very important in this regard."
OBSTRUCTIONS and BANS
Despite the support of the public, there are other challenges, starting with pressures, restrictions and obstructions against the Kurdish language. In addition to Kurdish-language concerts, an event at the Amed Municipal Theater has been blocked for years. Emektar explained that they are aware that it is not easy to perform a play in Kurdish at this time when the suppression of the Kurdish language continues, and added: "Most recently there was a blockade in Van, Adana and Mersin. They don't tell you that they won't allow the play because of its content, but instead they say, 'The governorate has not given permission for the event'. They don't directly say that the play is banned. Even if they refer to events, we know that this is an obstacle for the Kurdish language. Of course, it's not just Kurdish, there's a terrible intolerance and animosity of the other, the alternative, the different."
GOVERNORS' VINDICATION OF "PUBLIC SAFETY"
Although governors are at the forefront of these restrictions and obstructions, municipalities also play a role in these restraints. Such municipalities belong to the opposition parties. Emektar recalled that they have not encountered any notice such as "This piece or character in the piece is banned" in any of their blocked events, and explained the restrictions as follows:
"This is not just a matter of getting permission from the governorate. In cities we visit, we apply to be allowed to perform in municipal theaters. A play is a local event, but the municipalities can ask for permission from the governorate, although they don't do that for other troupes. Because the play is in Kurdish, they don't want to take any responsibility. They don't send a notification saying that they banned the play because of this content or character. The governor's office has a clause they call "public security," and everywhere we go our plays are banned on public security grounds. I don't know what damage an event on a stage can do to public safety but this is what they do prevent these events.”
CHP MUNICIPALITIES ARE ACCESSORIES
Asked whether CHP municipalities are among those that ask for approval for their applications from the governor's office, Emektar replied, "Yes, CHP municipalities make up the majority of the municipalities to which we apply. We do not apply to other municipalities anyway, as they have already made it clear that they will not give their permission. The CHP municipalities, on the other hand, blame others and say, 'The problem is not us, the governor's office is not giving its approval.' But they are part of this blockade, albeit indirectly. But we know that municipalities are not required to report their local activities. But when it comes to us, we are treated with such restrictions."
KURDISH EPICS AND WORLD CLASSICS
In addition to Kurdish epics and regional stories, the Amed City Theater also stages plays of world classics.
Emektar pointed out that they have a wide repertoire in this regard: "We define ourselves as the Kurdish institutional theater. We are a theater with our own stage. We also perform international plays. We consider the translation of world classics into the Kurdish language as part of our program. These are works of world cultural heritage and why they should not be performed in Kurdish theater, in Kurdish language? Of course, this does not mean that this is the only thing we do. We have done Mem û Zîn. We also perform Kurdish epics and stories. We are not a troupe that produces only 3-4 plays a year. We have a repertoire, which includes our own plays. But we cannot achieve them by detaching ourselves from the world heritage. These are things that complement each other.