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Theater through the eyes of a professional spectator: Interview with Ebru Tarım

Theater is an important art form that helps people express their feelings. Although the interest given and support are decreasing day by day, it is important for all of us to understand its subtleties. Let’s take a look at the interview that we conducted with a professional spectator called Ebru Tarım, who publishes her views about theater plays:

  • Why do you prefer to go to the theater when there are many artistic activities available?

Each play makes a stir in me. Actors and hundreds of people share the same moment. I love feeling the energy coming from the stage toward the audience. Knowing and witnessing that the moment I watch is only ours and unique, laughing and crying with the actors makes me very happy. I can say that I am fond of that energy.

  • How do you feel when a play starts?

First, I examine the setting. I try to find a connection between the title and the setting, to guess the story. Sometimes the decor whispers to the audience that strange things are about to happen. Undecorated scenes also increase my expectations for the actors.

  • What do you pay attention to when you evaluate a theater play?

First of all, I consider whether the feeling of the game is passed onto me. Then I examine the performances, decors, costumes, accessories, lighting, and preferences of the director. The most decisive thing for me at last is whether I want to go back to the play or not. There have been multiple times when I immediately bought a ticket to the next session of a play after I have left it.

  • Could you name 3 plays that must be seen?

Profesyonel- İstanbul Devlet Tiyatroları (I have seen it seven times, and it is still on stage)

Mağrur Fil Ölüleri - Çevre Tiyatrosu (I have seen it three times, and it is still on stage.)

Kalabalık Duası - Fiziksel Tiyatro (I have seen it four times, and it is still on stage)

  • Do you think the script should be read before going to a play or would you recommend reading it after the performance?

I prefer not reading the script; I only read the booklet information. I want my viewing adventure to be surprising. But if the play is written as a reference to known classics, then I read the script it refers to. For example, the Chekhov Machine staged by the Istanbul State Theater contains references to Chekhov's six great plays. I read all these six plays before the performance, to better understand the Chekhov Machine. But there are also times that I read the scripts afterwards, it is up to my feelings during the play.

  • Do you think that teenagers are paying attention to theater?

I don't think so, yet I see that high school students come to the 15:00 shows at the City Theaters with their teachers in large groups as part of their homework. In the short conversations I had with them, I observed that there are many people who have been to the theater for the first time. I think these first experiences are very important in developing the habit of theater.

  • Do you think Türkiye gives the necessary importance to theaters?

That is a complicated matter. But I don’t think so. In Türkiye, subsidized (municipal and state theaters) and private theaters produce art. Subsidized theaters do not have many economic problems and they play to full halls thanks to affordable ticket prices. Unfortunately, the situation is rather difficult for private theaters. Since theater is very low on the state's priority list, they must struggle alone. In fact, from time to time, they are exposed to obstacles and restrictions by official authorities. I hope that one day, they will get the support they deserve.

  • What was your favorite theater play lately?

Recently, I found the musical Macbeth play of Eskişehir Municipality Theatre, who were guests in Istanbul, very impressive.

  • How many plays do you watch on average in a season?

Before the pandemic, I was watching an average of 100 games per season. My average dropped after the pandemic. By now, I watched around 50 plays, operas and ballets in this season, and I believe I will surpass 70 by the end of the season.

  • Do you have an unforgettable theater experience? Can you explain?

At unexpected moments, there were times in interactive plays in which I suddenly found myself in the play or on the stage. Each of them is living with me as a pleasant memory.

  • Do you remember the first theater play you have watched? How did you feel?

Unfortunately, I don't remember the first play I watched. I have been going to children's games since I was very young. “Hisseli Harikalar Kumpanyası”, “Aslan Asker Şvayk”, “Deliler”, “Artiz Mektebi” are the ones I remember the most in Anatolia.

  • What other artistic activities do you enjoy besides theatre?

I love all forms of art performed live. I follow opera, ballet, and music concerts. I especially follow the “State Opera and Ballet” program closely. These shows are included in the average number of plays I mentioned above.

  • Could you give some advice to people who are interested in theater?

Since I take part in the theater world as a spectator, I can’t say anything to those who are interested in theater as an actor. This is not my area of expertise. I am a professional spectator. My advice is to go to as many plays as their budget allows. If the play catches their attention, they should read the play from the original text, and watch the foreign versions if there is any performances in different countries on YouTube. Thus, even if the language is not understood, they can experience different interpretations by comparing the stage setting, decor, lighting design, and body language of the actors.

This was the end of our interview with Ebru Tarım. If you are interested in theater and curious about the theaters in Türkiye, I personally recommend you to check out her Instagram page where she publishes her views about plays.

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