ISTANBUL’S TEN CITY THEATERS TODAY ARE THE TOUCHSTONES OF THE CITY’S WORLD OF ART AND CULTURE.
If there is one truth that no devoted theatergoer would deny it is that the theater is a human stage in fictional time and space. A stage that takes its stories from real life, that occasionally teaches lessons but that, most of all, opens the door to an individual’s coming to terms with his inner self.
This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of theater in Istanbul, one of the most important cities on the stage of history. For 100 years, the City Theaters have been bringing Istanbul audiences outstanding examples of Turkish and foreign theater in plays born now of a simple and distilled aesthetic, now of a splendid mix of music, dance, costumes and choreography.
A SCHOOL OF DRAMA
Who in Turkish theater was not a graduate of the studio of André Antoine (1858-1943), a French actor and theater manager who was the first teacher at the Darülbedayi-i Osmani, or Ottoman House of Fine Arts, founded in 1914? Among the leading figures in our world of art and theater, Muhsin Ertuğrul, Halit Fahri Ozansoy, Behzat Butak, Ali Naci Karacan, Peyami Safa, Emin Beliğ Belli, Celal Sahir, Eliza Binemeciyan, Ahmet Muvahhit, İ. Galip Arcan, Raşit Rıza and Fikret Şadi are just a few of the graduates of that school.
The first play was staged in 1916. The school acquired a professional reputation with the play Çürük Temel, adapted by Hüseyin Suat from French playwright Émile Fabre’s 1907 La Maison d’Argile, and soon became the center of theatrical productions in Istanbul. Renamed the Istanbul City Theaters in 1924, the institution was attached to the municipality in 1934, becoming the Istanbul Municipality City Theaters. Known simply as the City Theaters today, the Darülbedayi has been bringing life to art and art to people ever since.
In addition to classics like Molière, Goldoni and Schiller, other works from the western world - from Pirandello, Chekhov, Shaw, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Ibsen and Gorky to today’s contemporary playwrights - are produced regularly. Şark Dişçisi (The Oriental Dentist), İstanbul Efendisi (The Istanbul Gentleman), the dramas of Shakespeare, The Cherry Orchard, Cabaret, and Hıdrellez are just a few of the plays you can see at the City Theaters today. Tickets go on sale on the 21st of each month. Mark your calendar and reserve a seat near the front!
“It’s a fact that the great art of theater has existed in Turkey for years along with some very great artists. If you ask me, ours is a world-class theater with our writers, actors and costume designers as well as those responsible for set design, music and lights. I believe that the city theaters, which have been around for 100 years, are going to entertain audiences for another 100 as young talents sprout up right and left.”