Zeliha Berksoy is an actress, director and Brechtian singer who was born in Istanbul in 1946. Following the completion of her master’s degree at Ankara State Conservatory in 1965, Zeliha Berksoy joined the Schiller Theatre within the Berlin State Theatre as director’s assistant in 1967. She continued her education at the famous Berliner Ensemble Theatre as an assistant student.
During her acting career spanning 42 years, she has played lead roles in plays and musicals from the world theatre literature written by renowned playwrights. She has joined various international festivals with her productions and has received numerous awards.
Zeliha Berksoy has performed countless Brecht concerts since 1972. She staged Kurt Weill-Brecht Concert at the International Istanbul Theatre Festival in 1996. She staged Jokont and Si-Ya-U in Moscow, and in 2000 went on tour with Yosma in Vienna, Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam and New York.
She started her instructor career in 1974 at the Department of Opera in Istanbul State Conservatory, and in 1978 she participated in establishing the Department of Theatre at the same institution. The same year she founded the Department of Performing Arts at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University State Conservatory. In 2000 she received her professorship in Theatre Arts and carried on her duties until 2013.
She received Nokta magazine’s “Doruktakiler” award in 1988 for her role as Zilha in Keşanlı Ali Destanı. In 1990 she founded the third funded theatre of Turkey, Bakırköy Municipality Theatre, and took on the role of general artistic director for this institution for the next five years. For this achievement, she was granted the Turkish Critics’ Association Award. She received Tiyatro…Tiyatro… magazine’s “Honorary Award,” in 2013, the “Muhsin Ertuğrul Special Prize” at the Yapı Kredi Afife Theatre Awards in 2015 and the “Sakıp Sabancı Lifetime Achievement Award” at the State Theatres - Sabancı International Adana Theatre Festival in 2016. In addition to these awards she was granted “The Best Female Artist” award several times by prestigious institutions including İsmet Küntay Theatre Awards, Turkish Critics’ Association and Ankara Art Enthusiasts Association.
The artist founded the Semiha Berksoy Opera Foundation in 1996 on the recommendations of Semiha Berksoy’s close artistic associates Mengü Ertel and Onat Kutlar, and with the support of her other close friends. She currently holds the position of chairman of the foundation. She produced various plays including Kurtuluş Şavaşı Destanı (The Legend of the War of Independence) by Nazım Hikmet Ran in 2008, and Ismene by Yannis Ritsos in 2009. Ismene was presented to the audience at the International Istanbul Theatre Festival in 2010.
Upon Beşiktaş Municipality’s invitation, Zeliha Berksoy took on the position of chairman of Beşiktaş Culture Art Platform between the years 2005 and 2009. In 2016 she penned the National Declaration for the World Theatre Day and wrote and acted in İnsan Neyle Yaşar? in 2018.
Berksoy continues an active theatre career. Various plays and musicals she has taken part in include Asiye Nasıl Kurtulur?, Lola Blau, Letters to Taranta-Babu, Jokont and Si-Ya-U (2008, 2013), Brecht Cabaret / I, Bertolt Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle (dir. Mehmet Ulusoy), Anna’nın Yedi Ölümcül Günahı, Keşanlı Ali Destanı, Antigone by Sophocles (dir. Robert Sturua), Matmazel Julie, Yosma, Marlene, Nâzım’a Armağan ve Yaşasın Savaş!.