The 21st Istanbul Theatre Festival

The 21st edition of the Istanbul Theatre Festival will take place between 13 and 26 November 2017. 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 side events.

Starting with 2017, Istanbul Theatre Festival returns to an annual cycle after 15 years of being held biennially. The festival is familiar with raising its curtains once a year, as it was the case from its initiation by İKSV in 1989 until 2002. Istanbul Theatre Festival will once again enrich Istanbul's cultural life with its wide programme of international and local theatre and dance performances and events every year, however this time, in November.

The 21st Istanbul Theatre Festival will present a total of 55 performances by 19 theatre and dance ensembles – 6 from abroad and 13 from Turkey – in 18 different venues. The festival programme also features a number of events including panels, film screenings, master classes and workshops with the participation of international guests and experts.


The 21st Istanbul Theatre Festival hosts 6 theatre and dance ensembles from abroad. The festival audience will meet with the play Encore, the final chapter of the trilogy which started with Alarme and continued with Amor staged by the Attis Theatre, founded and directed by the legandary Theodoros Terzopoulos. The French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, who will receive the Honorary Award this year, will also meet the audience with his latest work La Fresque. Shakespeare’s immortal play Richard III will bring theatre lovers together with the interpretation of Thomas Ostermeier. The festival programme also includes the Italian immersive theatre ensemble TPO’s Farfalle, which invites audiences of all ages to see the world through the eyes of the butterflies, Porteguese director Pedro Penim’s Before,a performance that travels back in time, and Seuls an emotionally charged play by Lebanese-Canadian playwright and director Wajdi Mouawad about his search for himself.


12 plays from Turkey will have their premieres at the festival. The first one will be Checkhov’s The Seagull directed by one of the remarkable directors of Turkey’s contemporary theatre stage Serdar Biliş with the production of Pürtelaş Tiyatro. The 21st Istanbul Theatre Festival programme also includes the B Planı production Home, written and directed by Sami Berat Marçalı, The Dinner, adapted from the novel with the same title by Herman Koch under the direction of Volkan M. Sarıöz and staged by Semaver Kumpanya, I Love You Turkey, written by Ceren Ercan from Bakırköy Municipality Theatre and directed by Yelda Baskın, and The Tempest, directed by Kemal Aydoğan, who likes to play around with Shakespeare.

The festival programme includes The Collaborator by DasDas Sahne written by the Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt and directed by the theatre master Ahmet Mümtaz Taylan, Migraaaants directed by another master Genco Erkal and referring to the most urgent issue of the era, When In Rome, staged by Galata Perform’s brand new project Yeni Metin Yeni Tiyatro, and a Şermola Performans’ production Panopticon, designed and directed by Mirza Metin, a successful name of new generation theatre who aims to explore the possibilities of the body in his works. Contemporary dance artist Canan Yücel Pekicten and her concept and choreography in All About The Heart, tell the story of three female characters who have been the subject of three different operas; whereas Taldans, a contemporary dance duo concentrating their work on the relationship of body, sound and rhythm, bring the first Russian futurist opera Victory Over the Sun together with the festival audience.

A profound and silent master of the human darkness of Turkish literature, Nahid Sirri Örik’s never-before-staged play Betrayal will meet the audience for the first time, directed by Özen Yula and staged by Ankara State Theatre. The boundless dream of nine-year-old Gökhan Kızıklı, the winner of the contest “A Dream, A Play, organised by Zorlu Holding, is being staged with the title Carton City, under the adaptation of Serdar Saatman, direction of Gaye Cankaya directing and production of Zorlu Children’s Theatre.


The festival programme also features a number of free of charge events including panels, film screenings, master classes and workshops with the participation of international guests and experts.

The living legend of the ancient Greek theatre, the founder and director of the Attis Theatre, Theodoros Terzopoulos will meet with the audience in a panel entitled The Actor in the Era of Globalization as well as another panel where his book The Return of Dionysos will be introduced. While the director’s play Encore, as the last part of a trilogy, will be staged at the festival, the audience will have a chance to see the screenings of the first two plays of the trilogy Alarme and Amor.

The side events also include the staging of Acts of Goodness written by the Swedish director and playwright Mattias Andersson and directed by Yiğit Özşener at the festival as a reading theatre, as well as workshops by the dance and performance artist Tuğçe Tuna, the Swedish director, dramaturge and musician Johan Petri and the Association of Theatre Critics in Turkey.

The festival will also feature film screenings of Blanche Neige with Angelin Preljocaj’s contemporary interpretation and Oliver Assayas’ documentary Eldorado/Preljocaj, which chronicles the rehearsal process of Preljocaj’s Eldorado. Other side events of the festival are a master class with the founder of Studio Oyuncuları (The Studio Players) Şahika Tekand and a panel titled “Arts and Culture for Children in Turkey and Europe.”


The "International Platform" of the festival, which was organised for the first time in 2014, will continue in 2017 to ensure that successful examples of the local theatre stage are included in the programmes of various festivals and institutions abroad and reach a wider audience. The 21st Istanbul Theatre Festival will host its professional guests on two different occasions. The first meeting will be on 16-19 November, in collaboration with the Corner in the World x bomontiada ALT. A number of theatre professionals from abroad will attend a showcase of the festival programme with the support of ONDA (Office National de Diffusion Artistique) from France. The second professional meeting and showcase programme will be held on 23-26 November within the scope of the festival.


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