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24th Istanbul Theatre Festival to Meet Audiences on Stage and Screens in November

The festival will run 14 November through 1 Decmeber.

24th Istanbul Theatre Festival to Meet Audiences on Stage and Screens in November

The 24th edition of the Istanbul Theatre Festival, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) and sponsored by Koç Holding Energy Group Companies Aygaz, Opet and Tüpraş, will be held between 14 November and 1 December 2020 both on stage and online with a hybrid programme.

The festival will present both physical and online performances by 29 local and international theatre and dance companies. The physical performances will take place under Covid-19 measures in various venues in Istanbul such as DasDas, Fişekhane, Moda Stage, Zorlu PSM, Harbiye Muhsin Ertuğrul Stage, Babylon, Yapı Kredi bomontiada, Caddebostan Kültür Merkezi and Surp Vortvos Vorodman Church. The online performances will be available for streaming on for audiences to enjoy on their screens. Five online performances can be enjoyed both in Turkey and around the world.

From sound performances to interactive productions, the festival programme presents an unusual experience this year. With many unique projects, theatre enthusiasts will find themselves in a promenade theatre by walking through venues in Istanbul's famous İstiklal Street or turn their homes into a gallery.

Because of the extraordinary conditions of the pandemic and its adverse effects on the local theatre scene in Turkey, the festival has decided to welcome as many local productions as possible in its physical and digital programme. The majority of the online performances in the programme are produced exclusively for the online platform of the festival. In the programme, audiences will also see productions questioning the concept of "digital theatre".

This year, festival's Honorary Awards are presented to dancer and choreographer Geyvan McMillen, director Işıl Kasapoğlu and director Ivo van Hove. The festival programme also features a number of events within the scope of its Learning and Training Programme including panels, reader's theatres, master classes and workshops. Details of the programme will be announced on the festival's website in late October.

Five performances will be available for streaming for audiences around the world

Five online performances by local and international productions from the festival's programme will be available for streaming on for audiences both in Turkey and around the world: Swan Lake by Club Guy & Roni, Dopo La Battaglia by Pippo Delbono Company, Lear in the Kitchen by Kadro Pa, Less Than No Time by Taldans and A Case Per Day by BGST Tiyatro. Dopo La Battaglia, Lear in the Kitchen, Less Than No Time and A Case Per Day will be streamed with English subtitles.

A special focus on women from the festival

There are several performances that focus on women in the festival programme this year: I, 'Dear Milena', which imagines and fictionalizes the 'missing parts' of the love correspondence between Franz Kafka and Milena Jesenská; The Revolutionist, which brings four executed women of the French Revolution on stage; Hou Vast! Laat Los!, adapted from Deniz Kaptan's book Kadın Hikâyeleri (The Book of Women); The Land of Dead Women, in which we hear the voices of women murdered by men from the afterlife; I Am Anatolia, staged in memory of the legendary Turkish actress Yıldız Kenter by her students; and A Case Per Day, in which seven women tell seven Covid-19 stories, will all meet the audience at the festival.

Dare to Say by NDT 2 to meet the audience before the festival on 6 November

Nederlands Dans Theater 2, a regular guest of the festival, will welcome the festival audience at a pre-festival event with a live world premiere this year. Dare to Say presents two programmes by Alexander Ekman and Dimo Milev. The choregoraphers challenged the dancers of NDT 2 and created different approaches to movement in response to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19. These two inspiring programmes will be broadcasted live from The Hague on 6 November at 22.00 (GMT +3) for audiences to enjoy from their own living room. The performances will be presented under the "Dutch Focus" programme of the festival, with the support of the Dutch Performing Arts, a programme of the Performing Arts Fund NL.

Festival's four international productions

The festival will host four international productions as part of its programme. Diagonale Ascendante by the French company Retouramont will be performed live in Istanbul at Yapı Kredi bomontiada on 14 and 15 November, while the other three productions will meet the audience on digital platforms.

Diagonale Ascendante by Retouramont

Swan Lake by Club Guy & Roni, Slagwerk Den Haag, Tomoko Mukaiyama

Who Killed My Father? by Internationaal Theater Amsterdam

Dopo La Battaglia (After The Battle) by Pippo Delbono Company

Festival's 24 local productions

This year, the festival opens up a wider platform to local companies that were adversely affected by the pandemic. Festival's Local Productions Performance Sponsor ENKA Foundation supports 23 local productions to be staged in physical venues and online platform. Another local performance of the festival, Dumrul and the Grim Reaper, will meet with the audience with Tekfen Holding's Special Performance Sponsorship.

I, 'Dear Milena' by Meltem Cumbul Studio

fuNNy by B Planı

The Revolutionist by K! Kültüral Performing Arts

Hou Vast! Laat Los! by Şimdi Tiyatro & Theatre Antract

Short Plays / Venues 3: Silence Ensues / Darkness / The Land of Dead Women by Tiyatro Kutusu

The Cherry Orchard by Kocaeli Şehir Tiyatroları

I Am Anatolia by Mam'Art Tiyatro

Fahrenheit 451 by Tatbikat Sahnesi

The Story of the Stuntman by Tiyatro Mitos

Map to Utopia by Platform Tiyatro & Fringe Ensemble

Iphigenia in Aulis by İBB Şehir Tiyatroları

Gomidas by Yolcu Tiyatro

I Know What You're Thinking by Ayrin Ersöz, Canan Yücel Pekiçten, Bengi Sevim, Magda Skowron, Hasan Yoksulabakan and Ömer Vatansever

THE RECALL A Remembrance Project by Mekan Artı

Feramuz Dirty! by TiyatroDEA

The Good God of Manhattan by Tiyatro Motus

For No Good Reason by Podacto

A Case Per Day by BGST Tiyatro

Lear in the Kitchen by Kadro Pa

Less Than No Time by Taldans

A Walk in the Ordinary by Kazan Dairesi

Deserted Shores // Negative Photographs by Galataperform

Being by Podacto

Dumrul and the Grim Reaper by MoMoAcT

The documentary "İyi ki Yapmışım" to be screened at the festival

Bringing the renowned film and stage actor Metin Akpınar's extraordinary career spanning sixty years to screen, İyi ki Yapmışım is a unique production that shines light on the artist's career and entire life. In the documentary, directed by Selçuk Metin, written by Zeynep Miraç and narrated by Tilbe Saran, many artists, authors and scholars such as Demet Akbağ, Umur Bugay, Ferhan Şensoy, Ahmet Gülhan, Dikmen Gürün, Kandemir Konduk, Perran Kutman, Nevra Serezli, Selma Sonat, Zeynep Oral and friends who have witnessed his life, share their memories about Akpınar.

Festival tickets

Tickets go on sale on Friday, 23 October at 10.30 and are available on

Advance sales with discounts begin for Black Tulip members on 20 October; White Tulip members on 21 October; and Red, Yellow and Orange Tulip members on 22 October, as of 10.30. Click to become a member.

With the Eczacıbaşı Culture & Art Card, 2000 university students in Turkey between 18-25 years of age received 250 TRY that can be used until the end of 2020 for İKSV events and Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. Eczacıbaşı Culture & Art Card holders will also be able to use their cards on general sales to purchase tickets for the Istanbul Theatre Festival's physical and digital performances.

Important Notice about Covid-19 Measures

The indoor performances of the 24th Istanbul Theatre Festival plays will take place in accordance with the measures specified in the "Notice for the Controlled Normalisation at Culture and Arts Facilities" issued by the General Directorate of Investments and Enterprises of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on June 23, 2020. Detailed information available on:

Festival's Honorary Awards

The 24th Istanbul Theatre Festival's Honorary Awards will be presented to the dancer and choreographer Geyvan McMillen, director Işıl Kasapoğlu and director Ivo van Hove. The presentation of the awards and award speeches will be broadcasted on festival's social media accounts before the Opening Performance to be held at Yapı Kredi bomontiada on Saturday, November 14. The presentations and speeches will then be available to watch before the streaming of the Opening Performance between 21 and 28 November on İKSV's YouTube channel.

Geyvan McMillen graduated from Hacettepe University State Conservatory Department of Ballet in 1960 and joined Ankara State Ballet as a student and dancer of Dame Ninette De Valois at Ankara State Opera and Ballet the same year. She has worked at this institution as a dancer, instructor and choreographer from 1960 to 1977. From 1970 to 1974, McMillen received a scholarship from London Contemporary Dance School, where she studied Martha Graham Technique from Jane Dudley and Robert Cohen for four years. In 1972, she participated in the young choreographer's competition held in Cologne with her first choreography. In 1973, McMillen went to The United States, where she received a scholarship from choreographer Merce Cunningham to study the Cunnigham Technique in New York and participated as a dancer in one of the choreographer's works. After returning to Turkey in 1974, she continued to work as a choreographer, instructor and manager at Ankara State Opera and Ballet and İstanbul State Opera until her retirement in 2006.

Pioneering modern dance ensembles in our country with academic and modern dance education, she exhibited her first modern dance choreography in Turkey with the Contemporary Dance Ensemble, which she founded between 1974 and 1975 with the support of Ankara State Opera and Ballet. From 1977 to 2006, McMillan worked as a choreographer, instructor and director at the İstanbul State Opera and Ballet, where she served as Chief choreographer from 1990 to 1993. Between 1979 and 2002, she participated in many national art organizations and was invited to stage her works at Ankara, İzmir and Mersin State Opera and Ballets. McMillen has been the Dance Director of the Europalya and Habitat Organization, held the Dance Festival with the support of Habitat Organization, and performed the duties of Dance Consultant and Member of the Board of Directors at the İstanbul Music Festival and Dance Consultant at the Ministry of Culture. Between 2002-05, McMillan founded the Cemal Reşit Rey Dance Theatre Ensemble of which she has served as the artistic director. She was awarded the Bimeras Award by the Consulate General of Belgium in İstanbul and the Bimeras Cultural Foundation for her contribution to the development of the art of dance in Turkey. McMillen, who was a member of the jury of the 2016 International Classical Ballet Competition, has successfully exhibited her various projects and works on national and international platforms between 1974 and 2012. She has participated in festivals and dance platforms held in Turkey, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Italy, United States, France and China as a dancer, choreographer and instructor. She has been invited to the Venice Dance Biennial for four consecutive years. McMillen, whose most recent work focuses on dance and video installations, continues her research and work for the development of the art of dance in Turkey by transforming the shows of the İstanbul Dance Theatre (İDT+) Ensemble, which she founded in 2005, into an interdisciplinary art event.

After graduating from Galatasaray High School, Işıl Kasapoğlu studied at the Theatre Department of the University of Paris Sorbonne where he completed his education in 1981. From 1978 to 1983 he worked at the Pierre Vial workshop of the Paris State Conservatory, where he assisted many directors in Paris. In 1982, he founded a theatre named Theatre a Venir in Paris and directed numerous works there, many of which have participated in festivals and held organized tours. Upon the invitation of İstanbul Municipality City Theatres, he returned to Turkey and directed the plays The Servant of Two Masters (1987) and King Lear (1990), both of which have granted him many awards. During his time as a director at the State Theatre, he has staged Shakespeare plays in many cities of Anatolia such as Adana, Antalya, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Konya, Sivas, Trabzon and Van. He was one of the founders of Aksanat Production Theatre (1995) in İstanbul and the founder of İzmit Municipality City Theatre, which made its grand opening with the six-hour full version of Hamlet in 1997. Kasapoğlu founded his own independent theatre, Semaver Company, in İstanbul in 2002. Kasapoğlu has received the following awards for numerous works he has staged throughout his career: 1987-1988 season Ministry of Culture Best Director Award (1987-88), Avni Dilligil Best Director Award (1990-91), Theatre Critics Association, Theatre Director of the Year Award (1993-94), Ankara Art Institution, Best Director Award (1995-96), Theatre Critics Association, Honorary Award of the Year (1995-96) Yapı Kredi Afife Theatre Awards, Best Director Award and Tiyatronline Audience Awards, Best Director Award (2000), Sadri Alışık Anatolian Theatre Actor Awards, Director of Best Production of the Year (2013), Lions Theatre Awards, Most Successful Director of the Year (2015), Yapı Kredi Afife Theatre Awards, Muhsin Ertuğrul Special Award (2017) and Sakıp Sabancı Lifetime Achievement Award (2019).

Ivo van Hove is General Director of Internationaal Theatre Amsterdam (former Toneelgroep Amsterdam) since 2001. He was artistic director of the Holland Festival from 1998 to 2004. His productions tour all over the world: the Edinburgh Festival, Taipeh, The Barbican London, the Ruhrtriennale, Vienna Festival, Seoul, Sydney, Buenos Aires, New York and Festival d'Avignon. Works Van Hove has directed include Angels in America, a staged version of Yanagihara's A Little Life, Shakespeare's Roman tragedies and Kings of War, Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage and Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Other selected international credits include A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic, Network and Hedda Gabler at The National Theatre, Visconti's Obsession at the Barbican, and productions for Schaubühne Berlin, Paris's Théâtre de l'Odéon and Comédie-Française and in New York he directed A streetcar named desire and Hedda Gabler at NYTW, A View from the Bridge, The Crucible, Network and West Side Story on Broadway. With David Bowie and Enda Walsh he created Lazarus, which he also directed in London and Amsterdam.

Opera credits include The Makropulos Case, Salome for Dutch National Opera, Boris Godunov and Don Giovanni for Paris Opéra, world premiere Brokeback Mountain for Teatro Real Madrid, Macbeth for Opéra de Lyon, La clemenza di Tito and Idomeneo for La Monnaie, Brussels, Mazepa for Komische Oper Berlin and Mahagonny in Festival Aix en Provence.

Van Hove has received many international accolades including two Tony Awards, two Obies and two Olivier Awards and many awards in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. He is a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, received the Flemish Culture Prize for Overall Cultural Merit (2015) and has been made a Commander of the Order of the Crown by King Filip of Belgium. In 2019 he was awarded the Dutch state art prize; the Johannes Vermeer prize.

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