February 14, 2015, Saturday/ 17:00:00/ TUĞBA KAPLAN / ISTANBUL
Actor Fatih Koyunoğlu, who played in last season’s theatre production of “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” which won nine awards, has hit the stage this season performing in Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s “frank V.” Koyunoğlu spoke with Sunday’s Zaman about his failure as an economics student and the success of the theatre company he took part in establishing, TiyatroAdam.
TiyatroAdam has been active since 2007 but your company made its breakthrough with “Arturo Ui.” What makes this play so important?
What makes this production so important is the successful directing behind it. Not every theater company could have kept up with the pace (our director) set for this play. Not that we weren’t scared when (director) Ümit Aydoğdu first told us about the project — an eight-member cast plays 36 characters on stage. The title character Arturo Ui is portrayed by a different cast member in every scene. The music is performed a cappella by the actors and all along these eight people keep changing the set décor and their costumes without exiting the stage to catch their breath. It’s up to the audience to decide how much we have succeeded but I can say there’s an entire team putting on a superhuman performance in “Arturo Ui.”
How did you prepare for the play?
First of all, the entire cast had to rehearse together because the same character is performed by every single member of the cast. So we outlined the prototypes and worked together on the main characteristics of the role. Of course there have been times when we said, “We can’t do it,” but we’re about to mark our 100th performance and people keep talking about the awards our production won (last year), which of course flatters us. The biggest reward for an actor is to be able to perform countless times, in quality plays, to full houses. We will continue performing “Arturo Ui” as long as we can, because it’s a precious play.
Can we talk about full houses in theaters in Turkey these days?
Private theater companies (that don’t have a theater of their own) always have to perform on different stages all the time, which also creates a certain difficulty for the audience in keeping up with where a certain company is performing on a certain day. It’s not easy to become a theater artist in this country, especially if you’re with a private theater company and your company doesn’t have any sponsors.
What are the main differences between performing in a private theater and a state-funded company?
In state theater companies everything is decided (by administrators). You might sometimes have to perform in productions that you don’t believe in, with people you don’t necessarily (agree with) or in a direction that’s unconvincing. And I can imagine the hardest thing in the world must be to work without believing (in what you’re doing). Of course in state theaters there are so many quality productions and we also go and watch them, but still, if an actor is with the state theaters, they are actually a civil servant. In private companies, at least in our company, we get to talk about (what plays we will perform) and discuss each text with their pros and cons. We each even have a say in the play’s poster.
Does that create a cacophony of ideas?
Even if it does, it’s a nice thing, at least that’s what we’ve discovered. And if the ideas are good, it doesn’t create cacophony at all. We often reach a common ground that satisfies us all. The biggest reward I got from TiyatroAdam has been to learn how to have a discussion.
Before becoming a full-time actor, did you work in another field?
I actually studied economics at university for five years but all along I was more active in the school’s theater society, where I was a director. I’m sure I could never have graduated (from the economy department) even if I studied for another five years. I was that bad! One of my instructors had once told me, “I hope you’re aware that you’re never going to become an economist.” And I replied: “You can never tell for sure. I may never be an economy professor, but perhaps I can play one someday.” Acting is a profession where I can become anything I want to — one day I can be prime minister and the next day a clown.