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Turkey and the Netherlands: exchange-opportunities


The people in the theatre sector in Turkey (a.o. Talimhane, IKSV), often expressed that they would like to see Dutch cultural organizations take an interest in developing projects in Turkey with a focus on children and youth theatre. What passes for youth theatre in Turkey is in general commercial and bad. Professional companies do not want to do youth theater, maybe because it not profitable or because it takes time to talk to state schools. Schools often don’t understand theater.

Youth Theatre is relevant from a demographic point of view, but also for the development of future cultural audiences and artists, and in order to give youth a chance to culturally express themselves in an environment that often puts rote memorization and competition before personal development and collaboration.

In the elementary schools for the ages 4-12 kids’ theater exists. For the age group 14-18 there is nothing to watch according to one theatre director (Talimhane). He was impressed by youth theatre in the Netherlands. He gave Sevil Aydin from Utrecht’s Rootsandborders.nl as an example, and he noticed the focus on body language there. Theatre in Turkey is often very much focused on text and much less on form or body language. Both serious theatre for the age group 14-18 as well as theatre by that age group would be very interesting. Another topic was an exchange of information between Dutch and Turkish cultural managers about how to deal with schools. A seminar for decision makers in Dutch and Turkish schools would be meaningful. There was talk about collaboration between Arcola (London), Talımhane (Istanbul) and RAST young but the recent status must be checked 


There are very few places in Turkey where people can follow an education to become theatre makers/directors. Hacıtepe, Ankara is maybe the only department. Istanbul University only offers dramaturgy. Acting and dramaturgy are taught on different locations in Istanbul that are far apart. Any project in Turkey educating or motivating future theatre directors would be welcome. There are relatively few theatre companies that come from Turkey to the Netherlands. The mean goal is to invite more Turkish theatre companies to the Netherlands and to send Dutch theatre makers/directors and managers to Turkey.


The collaboration between Dutch groups with Turkish state theatres could be cumbersome because of bureaucracy and censorship (no nudity, sometimes no alcohol on stage, no topics related to religion or homosexuality). But it would be good if Dutch groups would interact with the state theatre and try to work with them so they open up a bit (the example of collaboration between a Dutch theatre and Turkish State theatre given during the ‘Hot Turkey!’ SICA meeting explains the problems that may arise). The independent and commercial theatres are the most flexible and open to collaboration with European (Dutch) partners.


The Goethe institute introduces young German playwrights to Turkey by translating their work into Turkish and by organizing stage readings of these plays in Turkey for those theatre people that may be interested to produce the play and/or perform it. This method is affordable and effective. Offer exchange-opportunities to young playwrights and directors from Turkey and the Netherlands.

The project ‘the last time’ in which 5 reputable Turkish writers (monologues) and young directors (first time that they had a chance in the professional theatre world) worked together and the ‘New Text New Theater’ project are two good examples in Turkey of approaches to bring talented writers and directors together. This form of cultural exchange creates new plays, makes them visible and readable accessible and it is reciprocal. It is recommended that someone in the Netherlands creates a similar program.


IKSV named the Istanbul Conservatory as possible partner for circus education in the Netherlands. Since 2004 one circus and one puppet group from the Netherlands have visited Istanbul. Both contemporary circus and puppet theatre are very small scenes in Turkey. Pantomime from the Netherlands has a good reputation in Turkey; therefore a pantomime project from the Netherlands can be of interest to Turkish universities and performers.