Genco Erkal completed his studies in the Psychology Department of Istanbul University. From 1959 on, he worked as an actor and as a director for numerous important theatre groups in Turkey and in 1969, he founded the Dostlar Theater, where he is currently the artistic director.

Erkal directed plays by international writers including Gorki, Brecht, Sartre, Peter Weiss, Steinbeck, Havel, as well as plays by Turkish writers such as Aziz Nesin, Haldun Taner, Nâzım Hikmet, Refik Erduran, Vasıf Öngören, Orhan Asena and Can Yücel. He adapted novels, stories, and poems into plays and translated plays. He wrote a documentary play, Sivas 93.

Roles that he is famous for and for which he won awards include The Good Soldier Schweik, Gogol’s Memoirs of a Madman, Brecht’s Galileo, Maxwell Anderson’s Barefoot in Athens, Nâzim Hikmet’s Like Kerem, Can Yücel’s Can, Howard Zinn’s Marx, the Return. In symphonic concerts, he narrated Prokofiev’s Peter and Kurt, Stravinski’s Story of a Soldier, Fazıl Say’s Nâzım.

He was the lead in award-winning and festival-favourite films, including At, Faize Hücum, A Season in Hakkari, A Heart of Glass. He directed and acted in Haldun Taner’s famous musical play Legend of Ali of Keshan for the state TV, TRT. He was named 'year’s leading male actor' and 'best theatre director' numerous times. In 1982 and 1983, he won the Golden Orange Award in the Antalya Film Festival twice as the 'best cinema actor'. He also holds lifetime achievement and honorary awards.

Since 1993, Genco Erkal has been acting in French as well, at the festivals in Paris and Avignon, in three French productions: Nâzım Hikmet’s Cloud in Love, Philippe Minyana’s Ou vas-tu Jérémie? and Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist, adapted from the eponymous title.