Translated from Turkish by Translators for Justice
The Ministry calls on private theatres to stage “moral theatre plays” in return for financial aid! An obligation is imposed on funded theatres to sign a protocol to stage “plays in conformity with general moral rules.” If a theatre fails to perform “a play in conformity with public morality,” the funding needs to be returned within 15 days with interest. The Ministry also asks for the scripts that shall be staged under the given protocol!
– Send over the script so that bureaucrats totally unaware of theatre can see if there is anything immoral in that play.
Those ‘censorious’ bureaucrats who will read the script are so far from the subject that they can hardly imagine what would actually be performed on the stage. All they will do is to look for any sentences that are pro-‘Gezi Resistance’ and anti-Government and to cross them out in red if there are any.
During the period of the 12 September 1980 Coup, martial law authorities tended to pre-censor scripts. We unanimously objected to this imposition and none of the theatres at the time sent scripts.
Such form of pre-censorship is unacceptable!
On May 27 1960, Ismail Dumbullu was on a tour in Ankara with his pisekar Tevfik Ince and his troupe. They performed at Genclik Park. Simultaneously with the declaration of martial law, a curfew was imposed and theatres were closed down. The scripts of staged plays were claimed by the then-authorities, Dumbullu and Ince went to see the commanding officer. They explained that their performance on stage was a type of improvisational theatre and based on improvisations.
– Officer, there is no written script, none whatsoever. Tevfik walks in from right and gives an ad lib. And I enter the stage from the left and throw an answer back at him. If, say, meat prices have gone up that day, I start it from there… If you absolutely ask for a script, here it is, says Dumbullu, tapping the index finger of his right hand to his temple.
Go and split Dumbullu’s head open to find the script if you can! There is something called improvisational theatre! Let’s say that a theatre submits a script as required. How is it going to be checked that actors play the same script every night? Will the police show up and record the performance every night? Who will examine those records?
What is it that you mean by general moral rules? Is it to be accepted by the majority? A theatre actor is the person who does not accept whatever is embraced by the majority. Jean Genet, whose plays are staged all around the world, is a playwright who objects to general moral rules. Bureaucrats would probably be struck dumb with shock if one of Genet’s plays were presented to the Ministry of Culture!
The funding in question amounts to one tenth of the tax paid by private theatres. The money runs out within a couple of hours after reaching the directorate. The theatre pays off priority debts such as tax and rent arrears. The directorate presents a sheet titled ‘Inflow/Outflow.’ There is no trace of money at all and the sheet is nothing but a list of overdue debts.
They request the return of money with interest within 15 days! No money within 15 days? That theatre’s owner is then put behind bars.
So what is the point of charging interest? Do Syrian guests need money?
“As citizens of a civil, democratic and constitutional state, we do not deem such an unfortunate protocol worthy of our approval and signature. We condemn those who do deem it worthy for us. We decline this conditional support,” says Tiyatro Kumpanyasi, which received funding!