The director who accepted the play was dismissed

WALL – It was alleged that Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Theaters General Artistic Directorate imposed an embargo on the Kurdish folk epic ‘Mem û Zîn’ (Zin with Mem).

Cuma Boynukara, the writer of the play ‘Mem û Zîn’, applied to Istanbul City Theaters in 2021. The play, which was accepted first, was not included in the repertoire after the dismissal of Mehmet Ergen, the General Artistic Director of the City Theaters of the period. IMM did not explain the reason why the play was not included in the repertoire.

Cuma Boynukara delivered the Turkish-language text of the play ‘Mem ile Zin’, which was included in the repertoire of the City Theaters in 2002, as a result of a telephone conversation with Mehmet Ergen, the General Art Director of the period, in September 2021. He added that he is considering Ayşe Emel Mesçi as the director of the play.

A month later, in October, Mehmet Ergen, Cuma Boynukara and Ayşe Emel Mesçi came together. In the positive meeting, the upper cast was formed. Ayşegül İşsever, the Stage Director of the period, was also asked to list the vacant actors at the City Theatre. Ayşegül İşsever said that she would ask for a week and return. While İşsever was expected to return, General Art Director Mehmet Ergen was dismissed. After Mehmet Ergen’s dismissal, Boynukara could not find an interlocutor to talk about the fate of the play ‘Mem ile Zin’ at the City Theaters for a long time.

‘It was understood that he criminalized me’

Boynukara said, “We regretfully learned that if the play Mem and Zin is made, the theater may undergo an investigation,” Boynukara explained the process as follows: “I made an appointment with the General Art Director Ayşegül İşsever, who was appointed by the proxy to discuss this issue. This date is March 4, 2022. In other words, five months after the date we were supposed to meet, we could only meet by intervening someone. In our interview, he said that he was aware of the game, but the game did not appear in the second round games and they did not have any prejudices against me. I understand this situation. In November 2022, we left to discuss the game’s calendar. After this meeting, the door of the general art director became a wall for me. Neither my phone was answered nor my appointment requests were returned. As such, my doubts increased. They thought that if the game was played, they would get an investigation from the Ministry of Interior. It became clear how much this thought criminalized me. However, this play was played twice at the State Theatre. When this did not eliminate their prejudices, I had to attach my Criminal Record Document to my petition and submit it to the General Artistic Director.”


Boynukara continued his words as follows: “When I realized that they had ‘terrorized’ my game and ‘criminalized’ me, I had nothing else to do, and although I did not want to, I had to give my Criminal Record Certificate to an art institution in order to relieve their hands. However, there is no answer yet. All this is not for playing the game. Playing the game is, of course, at their disposal. They may not play the game, but they cannot criminalize the author for the place where he was born or because of the play he wrote. I also wanted to underline that keeping people busy for two seasons and telling people ‘go today and come tomorrow’ does not coincide with theater etiquette. I wanted to remind you that it is not an institution like zoning works, water administration or licensing, it is the most rooted theater of this country, this theater has sprouted on the very colorful and diversity of this country, it has roots, and its indispensable part is its writers. ‘Mem ile Zin’ has been living in these lands for centuries and has been staged in theaters as a play for thirty years. It has been translated into dozens of languages, published and composed as an opera. By ignoring and terrorizing all this, you can only glorify this game.”


We asked our questions to the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality regarding the issue. However, management has not responded so far.