In 2010 Istanbul will become the Cultural Capital of Europe. Within this context, many organizations from Turkey applied with their projects, big and small, to get funds from the European Union. Among these, there is a group of high school students dedicated to theater. If they get support for their project from Brussels, they will launch a campaign to encourage their peers to go on stage.
The initiative belongs to Sakip Sabanci Anadolu Lycee Theater Group (SSALTT). They need support for their plans to help promote theater activities in other high schools in Istanbul.
SSALTT’s goal includes providing stage equipment, training students in dramaturgy, acting and directing. They are also planning to organize theater festivals where students from various Istanbul high schools will be able to stage their plays.
Firstly, twenty High schools will be chosen and these schools will be provided with technical equipment such as sound and light systems. SSALT will also go to these schools with know-how about how to improve their stage set up and auditoriums.
To realize this project SSALTT has applied to the European Union for 1.342.150 Turkish Liras (It is approximately 650.000 Euros.)
Actually, the shortcomings of the Turkish middle education system have prompted the SSALTT to launch such a campaign, members of the group say.
“Young people cannot find an opportunity to express themselves under the present education system in Turkey. So the stage provides them an opportunity to express themselves freely,” says Rifat Magriso, one of the directors of the group.
According to the group, middle education in Turkey relies heavily on memorizing textbooks and does not allow students to develop their creative skills. In other words there is no room for imagination at classrooms. So the stage is a formidable means to fill in that gap.
“High school students come from an age group where their characters are shaped up. Theater is also very useful at this stage for them to participate at team work and adopt the habit of feeling empathy for the other members of the group they are working with. Besides theater includes other branches of art and it provides you the opportunity to share your imagination with others,” Magriso observes.
According to the members of SSALTT, theater is both a collective and individual art. As individuals you have to express your imaginative and creative skills and as a collective you have to act in unison with others, in this way theater as an art could be considered as a rehearsal for real life.
The group explains that like every theater members consist of actors and directors. But there is no strict division between the two. During the production of plays the stage management staff coaches their own directors. Some players take on the role of director or vice versa.
SSALTT was founded in 1992 by Okan Yalabik, a student then. The first director was Ali Cengiz Deveci.
Since its foundation, SSALTT staged a variety of plays ranging from William Shakerpeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Friedrich Durrenmatt’s “Tower of Babel” and “Romulus the Great.”
They have also put a number of plays by Turkish writers on stage.