İstanbul Theatre Festival is Back in Town


It is that time of the year again! “The festival” is back in town! The 20th edition of the Istanbul Theatre Festival, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will take place from 3 – 28 May 2016. The festival will once again offer theatregoers an extensive programme, featuring a range of plays, dance shows and performances from Turkey and abroad, as well as parallel events. I am very happy, curious and can barely wait for the following week as İKSV organises the theatre festival biannually.

The festival performances and parallel events will take place in a wide range of venues across the city. The festival programme also features a number of free talks, performances, symposiums, exhibitions, master classes and workshops with the participation of well-known guests and experts.

For its 20th edition, the Istanbul Theatre Festival is launching a new project under the title Dance Platform. Within Dance Platform, professional dancers will stage short performances of their projects.

The 20th Istanbul Theatre Festival features 9 international productions from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Iran, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland. The Istanbul Theatre Festival is co-producer of 4 of these pieces.

As our motto is “it is personal!” below is the list of my top 5 plays that I will see:


The Complete Deaths

There are 75 onstage deaths in the works of William Shakespeare: From the Roman suicides in Julius Caesar to the death fall of Prince Arthur in King John; from the carnage at the end of Hamlet to snakes in a basket in Antony & Cleopatra. And then there’s the pie in Titus Andronicus. Spymonkey will perform them all; sometimes lingeringly, sometimes messily, sometimes movingly, sometimes musically, always hysterically. The four “seriously, outrageously, cleverly funny clowns” will scale the peaks of sublime poetry, and plumb the depths of darkest depravity. It may even be the death of them. Directed by Tim Crouch, The Complete Deaths will be a solemn, sombre and sublimely funny tribute to the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.


Needles and Opium 










Through highly visual staging, which is as much magic as it is theatre, Robert Lepage revisits, 20 years after its first production, Needles and Opium. A new scenography, original images, and an acrobat onstage complement Cocteau’s words and Marc Labrèche’s sensitive and ingenious performance. The result is a production with mesmerizing effects, a journey into the night that puts us under a spell and leads us into the light. Needles and Opium is a co-production of Istanbul Theatre Festival.


Trois Hommes Vertes / Children’s Play

Inspired by sound art and its surprising and creative way of imitating noises, Valérie Mréjen imagines a family tale of science fiction. One night, the dreams of a child are transformed into a fantasy right in front of our eyes when three aliens start talking to each other in a made-up language and create sounds with daily life objects. The child integrates these sound effects in his sleep and its animated dreams become true on stage. Everyday goods like papers and pipes turn horses, frogs, thunder and rain into real images in the imagination of a child.

MulteciThree digital travel stories starting like the ancient tragedies and developing through a grotesque comedy. Three different women who set out on a journey from three challenging geographies, Guatemala, Vietnam and Turkey, whom we can follow from the traces they left on the Internet. Three contemporary, female Odysseia whose virtual identities we track from the messages, applications, GPS maps, music, photographs, tweets, videos uploaded, calls, Skype and WhatsApp chats and Facebook profiles. The play is a co-production of Istanbul Theatre Festival.


Ham Havayi

Busily attending to their chores in the confined space of a kitchen, three darkly dressed Iranian women sketch out the story of their lives. Their passions and their pains, their dreams and their survival tactics…. Mahnaz is the war widow of a national hero and Shahla is the (unworthy) mistress of a well-known footballer. Leyla, who was traditionally raised, freed herself by discovering mountain hiking. Through these poignant destinies, Mahin Sadri and Afsaneh Mahian cover a part of history running from 1981 (two years after the Iranian revolution) until 2013. Outside the domestic space presented on stage, the men seem omnipresent – in the off-stage sounds, there’s nothing but war or religion. This piece won the prizes of “Best Original Text” and “Best Female Actresses” at Tehran Theatre Festival (Fajr) in January 2015, and also has recently received the price of the “Best Piece” and “Best Director” of 2015 by the Community of Theatre Critics of Iran.