Despite the "unsettling times," the 24th edition of the annual festival brings several plays and performances to audiences worldwide.

Organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), the 24th Istanbul Theatre Festival began on November 14, 2020 with the opening performance ‘Diagonale Ascendante’. 

Performed by the Retouramont ensemble from France, with the choreography of Fabrice Guillot, dancers Nathalie Tedesco and Fanny Gombert scaled the facade of Yapi Kredi Bomontiada. The performance was free of charge and can be viewed online starting November 21, 2020 at 8 pm local time until November 28, 2020 at IKSV’s YouTube channel.

The 24th Istanbul Theatre Festival will continue through to December 1, 2020 on multiple local stages. It will also broadcast a limited number of performances online, which will be accessible via the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) website. The opening ceremony was held online due to the pandemic.

‘Lear in the Kitchen’ by Kadro Pa will be streamed online.
‘Lear in the Kitchen’ by Kadro Pa will be streamed online. (Baris Keskin / Courtesy of IKSV)

IKSV Chairman of the Board Bulent Eczacibasi said “Since March, we have remembered how much we need culture and the arts in our most difficult times. We’ve seen how irreplaceable exhibitions, plays, films, classical and contemporary music activities are for mental and emotional well being of humans. IKSV, an not-for-profit cultural institution, kept on with its activities during this period to enhance our country’s development in culture and the arts, to support the production of culture and artists, to enrich our cultural life.”
Thanking the festival sponsors Koc Holding Energy Group companies Aygaz, Opet and Tupras for their valuable contributions and all show sponsors as well as the artists and companies taking part in the festival, Eczacibasi wished everyone a pleasant festival period.

Koc Holding Energy Group President Yagiz Eyuboglu said “In these unsettling times that have the Covid-19 pandemic affecting our work and social life deeply, art becomes one of the elements we need the most, bringing us hope and inspiration for a better future.”

Eyuboglu added that “as the Koc Group, with the hope and inspiration we receive from art, we are proud to serve the vision for a better world, and congratulate the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts once more for being a meeting point for society and art and for having created an enormous art universe for all of us.”

Istanbul Theatre Festival Director Leman Yilmaz said in her speech that “the 24th Istanbul Theatre Festival was prepared with a varied and rich programme comprising physical viewings and online screenings. It is no small feat to bring such a programme to life these days. In that respect, I thank all our sponsors and our supporting institutions who stood by us and did not spare any help.”

The opening ceremony ended after the recipients of this year’s Honorary Awards commented on their awards: Belgian director Ivo van Hove; dancer, choreographer Geyvan McMillen and director Isil Kasapoglu.

Prepare to see an untraditional take on Swan Lake during the Istanbul Theatre Festival.
Prepare to see an untraditional take on Swan Lake during the Istanbul Theatre Festival. (Halie / Courtesy of IKSV)

The performances in Turkish will be spread out around the city, with coronavirus restrictions strictly enforced. The Recall: A Remembrance Project will be performed in Turkish and English between November 28-December 1, 2020, turning Istiklal Street into a ‘playground’. The press materials say the audience will “explore the hundred-year-old life story of the retired journalist Aret on a tour of this historic street in Beyoğlu, discovering its forgotten, secret and hidden places. People passing down the street will be part of the play in which the audience will participate through headphones and on foot. That which exists will be intertwined with fiction and the text with reality.”

There will also be a total of five online performances for international audiences, either in English or with English subtitles, priced modestly to allow access from all over the world.

Dopo La Battaglia (After the Battle) will be available online for streaming.
Dopo La Battaglia (After the Battle) will be available online for streaming. (Lorenzo Porrazzini / Courtesy of IKSV)

They will be available for streaming on online.iksv.org/tiyatro for audiences without geographical restrictions: ‘Swan Lake’ by Club Guy & Roni, ‘Dopo La Battaglia (After the Battle)’ by Pippo Delbono Company, ‘Lear in the Kitchen’ by Kadro Pa, ‘Less Than No Time’ by Taldans and ‘A Case Per Day’ by BGST Tiyatro.

‘Dopo La Battaglia’, ‘Lear in the Kitchen’, ‘Less Than No Time’ and ‘A Case Per Day’ will be streamed with English subtitles.

‘Dopo La Battaglia’ will be broadcast between November 14-December 1, 2020, as will ‘Lear in the Kitchen’, ‘Less than No Time’ and ‘A Case Per Day.’

On November 18-19, 2020, one of the highlights of the online performances will be broadcast: Swan Lake. A collaboration between Club Guy & Roni, Slagwerk Den Haag and Tomoko Mukaiyama, this version of Swan Lake is a modern take on the classic, “a remix”.

The website of the performance asks: “The term black swan is used to denote an economic phenomenon that was impossible to predict but nevertheless has a huge effect on the system. How should we proceed now that the combined black swan of Covid-19 and the climate crisis has upended our fairy-tale democratic, liberal consumer’s paradise? Will we start a new story together?”

Thumbnail photo: Diagonale Ascendante, photo by Cie Retouramont. Headline photo: The Recall: A Remembrance Project, photo by Cagla Caglar.

Source: TRT World