"Acting" under Turkey’s State of Emergency: A Conversation with Kurdish Artists about Theatre, the Dengbêj Tradition, and the First Kurdish Hamlet

  • Pieter Verstraete University of Exeter


In this essay, we explore what is at stake for Kurdish theatre artists who develop their theatre praxis in a permanent state of emergency imposed by the Turkish government, and why it matters to act, both in the general sense and in the theatrical one, in a language that is neither the accepted one of the nation nor of the majority culture. This essay discusses interviews with five prominent Kurdish theatre artists, some based in Turkey and others currently in exile in Europe. The respondents included costume designer Ismail Oyur Tezcanli (based in Turkey), playwright Yusuf Unay (in Turkey), actor and director Mirza Metin (currently in Germany), instructor and director Rezan Aksoy (in Germany), and director Celil Toksöz (in the Netherlands, though not in exile).

Author Biography

Pieter Verstraete, University of Exeter
Dr. Pieter Verstraete is an independent scholar and honorary university fellow to the University of Exeter. He previously worked in several Turkish universities and started the current research project at Sabanci University with the support of a Mercator-IPC Fellowship at Istanbul Policy Center, where he is an alumnus.