The 23rd edition of the Istanbul Theatre Festival, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding Energy Group Companies Aygaz, Opet and Tüpraş, ended on Sunday, 1 December 2019. The festival plays, dances and performances were attended by more than 23.000 people, filling nearly 90% of all the seats. Additionally, 7.000 student tickets were on sale at 15 TL with the support of Festival Co-Sponsors, Koç Holding Energy Group Companies Aygaz, Opet and Tüpraş.
The 23rd Istanbul Theatre Festival lasted for 18 days and presented a total of 78 presentations of 28 theatre, dance and performances - 12 from abroad and 16 from Turkey. Of all these productions, 10 plays had their world premieres, whereas 21 plays had their Turkey premieres.
The festival performances and side events brought theatre lovers together in 17 venues on European and Anatolian sides of Istanbul. Festival plays were staged at the Venue Sponsor with the Highest Contribution Zorlu Performing Arts Centre (Turkcell Stage, Turkcell Platinum, Studio), Caddebostan Kültür Merkezi, DasDas, ENKA Oditoryumu, Institut Français İstanbul, Moda Sahnesi, MSGSÜ Bomonti Yerleşkesi, Sahne Beşiktaş, Salon İKSV, Tiyatro Pera, Toy İstanbul, and UNIQ Hall. The venues that hosted the festival for the first time this year were Kuzguncuk İskelesi and Arter. The festival’s admission-free side events took place within the scope of the Learning and Training Programme under the sponsorship of Yeditepe University at The Marmara Pera, Pera Museum, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Modern Dance Department, Salt Galata, Kolektif House, İKSV Alt Kat and Yeditepe University.
The 23rd Istanbul Theatre Festival’s Honorary Awards were presented to the playwright, theatre actor and stage director Ferhan Şensoy, stage designer Metin Deniz and director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, whose play, IONESCO SUITE, was featured at the festival.
Learning and Training Programme
Actualised under the sponsorship of Yeditepe University within the scope of the festival, Learning and Training Programme included free-of-charge events such as readers’ theatres, discussions, film screenings, workshops and master classes. The programme started with pre-festival events with the participation of Emrah Yaralı from Habitus Books and journalist Bahar Çuhadar; and continued with 19 free side events including the celebration of Genco Erkal’s 60th year in arts and the 50th anniversary of Dostlar Theatre with a symposium that brought together prominent names; the master class and workshop by choreographer Artem Ignatev of Ballet Moscow; three panels titled From Storytelling to Storyplaying, Documentary Theatre: Looking for Alternative Narrations, and Contemporary Theatre in Turkey. The events drew close to 2.000 theatre and dance enthusiasts.
Istanbul Theatre Festival Youth Platform with the support of Anadolu Efes
This year, with support from Anadolu Efes, Istanbul Theatre Festival actualised a Youth Platform with the aim of supporting youth who are interested in theatre but live outside of Istanbul and want to follow the festival. Within the scope of the platform, Tuşba City Theatre, which has been continuing its work in Van, performed a new adaptation of the play Somewhere in The Middle of the World written by Özen Yula and directed by Adnan Tönel. Tuşba City Theatre was brought to life with the participation of local youth who went through theatre training for a year as a part of the project organised with the collaboration of Eastern Anatolia Development Agency (DAKA) and İKSV. The play became the first production of this young company.
Events for International Theatre Professionals
The showcase programme of the festival, International Platform, organised since 2014, continued this year to help outstanding plays of the local theatre scene to reach a wider audience abroad. In the scope of the programme, a selection of local plays and performances were followed by a group of 10 theatre professionals, including festival directors, programmers, advisors and producers from 6 countries. The guests of the International Platform found the opportunity to follow various plays, dance performances and readers’ theatres representing the diversity of performing arts in Turkey including Incendies, For Rent, I’ve Stood Like That, Waiting, On the Bridge of No-Passers, Forest of Fled Sons, As Much, Io, “a thing” and kitty kitty.
Festival’s children’s book “A Day at the Theatre”
Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) published a children’s book called A Day at the Theatre within the scope of the 23rd Istanbul Theatre Festival. The book, which is the seventh publication geared towards children by İKSV, takes children on a thrilling tour inside a theatre venue and introduce them to the basic concepts of performing arts and related professions. Written by Sevinç Erbulak and edited by Burcu Ural Kopan with illustrations by Gözde Eyce, A Day at the Theatre was published in Turkish, English and Arabic with 12.000 printed copies. 4 free-of-charge theatre tours were also organised by İKSV Alt Kat with the participation of the book’s writer Sevinç Erbulak and attended by nearly 100 children between 3-8 years and their parents.
Tales Stage with the cooperation of İKSV Alt Kat
Istanbul Tales Storytelling Workshop was held in April-July 2019 at İKSV Alt Kat with the cooperation of Istanbul Theatre Festival and the support of the Istanbul Development Agency. A total of 30 Turkish and refugee children from age groups 7-9 and 10-12 participated in the workshop coordinated by storyteller Deniz Soruklu Evren. The tales in four languages (Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic and Armenian) children have written and painted during the workshop were transformed into a book called Naristan and were presented to the festival followers after the event Tales Stage that took place at Salon İKSV.
As well as the main festival sponsors – the Koç Holding Energy Group Companies Aygaz, Opet and Tüpraş – the 23rd Istanbul Theatre Festival was supported by the performance sponsors ENKA Foundation, Tekfen Holding and Allianz Turkey. Festival’s Learning and Training Programme sponsor was Yeditepe University and Youth Platform Supporter was Anadolu Efes.
Zorlu Performing Arts Centre supported the festival as the Venue Sponsor with the Highest Contribution.
The festival acknowledges the kind collaboration of Golden Mask Russian Performing Arts Festival, Flemish Ministry of Culture, Institut Français İstanbul, Goethe Institut, Pangea, Arter and Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Modern Dance Department.
The 23rd Istanbul Theatre Festival was also supported by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality as well as Beşiktaş and Kadıköy Municipalities.
All festivals organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) are supported by the Founding Sponsor Eczacıbaşı Holding, Official Hotel Sponsor The Marmara Collection, Carrier Sponsor DHL, Insurance Sponsor Zurich Sigorta and Service Health Sponsor American Hospital. Festival’s Service Security Sponsor is Securitas.
The publicity campaign for the 23rd Istanbul Theatre Festival was developed by TBWA İstanbul.