Wednesday, March 8, 2017

RESPONSE: Turkish Critics Engage

Something Rotten?: Müdjat Gezen Arts Center after presumed arson. Photo: AA
Theatre critics in Turkey report to us that, as theater academics were being expelled during the "state of emergency," a significant theater academy founded by Turkish actor and director Müjdat Gezen was burned. Gezen described the act as a "terrorist crime" and took pleasure in noting that the bronze bust of the hero of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was unscathed in the attack.

The Theatre Critics Association of Turkey responded with a document titled "Something is Rotten in the Turkish Republic." Parts of the following have been edited for clarity:
In Turkey, academicians who sign in support of social peace continue to be expelled from their institutions with a state of emergency decree. Prestigious professors of the Theatre Department in Ankara University's Faculty of Language, History and Geography, were also expelled after other recent expulsions. 
These academics, including members of the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC) Turkish Section, were unexpectedly and inappropriately removed from their duties despite their professional standing and long experience. With this decision, undergraduate and graduate studies are now suspended. Our greatest hope is that our distinguished professors will be reinstated and allowed to work at their universities following social pressure and implementation of the law. 
Arts Advocate: Müdjat Gezen
As this chaos unfolded in higher education, Müjdat Gezen Art Center, which was created by a private initiative and educated hundreds of actors and actresses, was burned in a presumed act of arson after being targeted by a media channel broadcasting ideas of the extreme right wing. The center, founded by Müjdat Gezen, was damaged tragically. Gezen is one of the greatest actors and directors of Turkish theatre and is well known for his Kemalist and secular ideals. Upon hearing news of the fire, hundreds of actors, actresses, directors, students, and audience members flocked to art center and stood guard outside. 
The Theatre Critics Association of Turkey, condemns this discriminatory and criminal behavior. We believe in the combined resistance of Turkey’s intellectuals, academicians, and artists. We will continue to work toward the restoration of social morality and the freedom of thought through the cultivation of the arts.
ATCA International will continue to monitor the unfolding situation as arts institutions throughout the globe respond to an apparent rising tide of artistic and academic oppression.

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