Heidi Trautmann

972: Launch of the book ‘Düşte Umut Yürekte Sızı’ by late Hakan Çakmak

Launch of the book ‘Düşte Umut Yürekte Sızı’ by late Hakan Çakmak with the life story of  Yaşar Ersoy, the Grey Eminence of the Theatre of Cyprus

By Heidi Trautmann

The Nicosia Municipality Theatre opened its doors for a very special occasion on February 15, 2018, the launch of a book  ‘Düşte Umut Yürekte Sızı’; the Life Story of Yaşar Ersoy written by Hakan Çakmak, who left us last year to another level of existence. I had not known that he had worked on the book for the last two years. I knew that within the framework of his regular TV programme to report on anything which had to do with visual art, music and theatre in North Cyprus, he had undertaken to interview artists in their studios. Thanks to his work we have a rather complete overview in archive on the arts and culture activities.

At the book launch event we were shown a film summarizing the interviews Hakan Çakmak did with Yaşar Ersoy on various theatre events, new performances and the Cyprus Theatre Festivals which regularly took place for fifteen years now at the Near East University in Nicosia. It was most interesting,  a film put together by Kadri Esemen (BRT) who is continuing  the work of Hakan Çakmak, his teacher and friend, as he calls him.

Among the audience were many artists, also members of the new government, who had come to celebrate the launch of this important book and to remember Hakan Çakmak, the author. The event was opened with speeches by Munür Rahvancioğlu from Khora Publications; Cemal Özyiğit, Minister of National Education and Culture; Aliye Ummanel, the Art Director of the LBT; Mehmet Harmancı, the Mayor of Nicosia and finally Yaşar Ersoy. For hours he sat and signed the book for the many theatre lovers who wanted to have their book signed by him and to have a photo taken with him.

The book, edited by Feriha Altıok, and published by Khora Books Nicosia, about 620 pages, starts in the year 1952 when Yaşar Ersoy was born and informs on political, social events that took place over the years, shows us the first beginnings of Yaşar’s involvement with the theatre, the beginnings of his theatre career, his encounters with the co-founders of today’s LBT, Osman Alkaş, Erol Refikoğlu and Işın Cem-Refikoğlu and its long and often painful history. The report is supported by newspaper clippings and photos and instructs us on the active and creative involvement of the many theatre friends, visual artists and literature  people. Moreover, we find included 20 statements by visual artists, writers and colleagues from the theatre. 

The book is written in Turkish. For the English readers I therefore publish here my statement which is on page 508 of this Hakan Çakmak’s book.  I also refer to my book ‘Art and Creativity, Volume II’ where I give an overview on the Nicosia Municipality Theatre as it stands today and the work and manifold activities done by Yaşar Ersoy and the members of the theatre company.

Yaşar Ersoy – The last thing to die is hope and …. By Heidi Trautmann

…often defeated but never giving up…these statements are his life philosophy and have been manifested in the titles of two of his books. Fighting injustice has been Yaşar Ersoy’s motive from early childhood on and coming from a poor family he knew he had no other way out of it but to fight. ‘I am of the 1968 generation’ he says with pride.

In 2008 I had my first opportunity to meet Yaşar Ersoy for an interview after I had been to see a play based on Aristophanes’ BARIŞ at the Lefkoşa Belediye Theatre; I was amazed of its professionalism and the joy and intensity that was transported from the stage to the audience. I wanted to know more about this theatre, I wanted to let the foreign community know about it in the English newspapers and thus began a sort of love affair between the LBT theatre company and myself because I have not missed a single play since 2006.

Yaşar Ersoy is theatre itself in the true sense of the word, in his veins runs a cocktail of sweat, tears and blood mixed with the stage dust he has swallowed for so many decades. Theatre is his first love and wife. He has loved, cherished and defended her with all his being. Theatre is team work, is dedication, he says, self-abandonment, strict discipline and love. Theatre is a mirror for society, it gives hope where there is no hope and offers help to the helpless and it is the great communicator in our modern times and among people who are obsessed with communication gadgets.

Would one believe that Yaşar Ersoy was once a shy boy who would not open his mouth in the presence of more than two people? It were his school teachers who discovered his talent for reciting poems and placed him on stage and it was there that he was hooked for life, he told me. He had discovered his self and his road. He learnt his trade in all its facets and it was not beneath himself to scrub the floors of the theatre. He was a role model for his team, especially for the young ones who joined the theatre over the years; Yaşar Ersoy became a father figure, how I often heard it said by some young members of his team when I interviewed them and he encouraged them when they lost their self-confidence on one or the other occasion.

Acting became his skin, his food, and in whatever role you saw him you believed and trusted him. Yaşar Ersoy believed in great literature, in poetry, in the spoken word that changes the world. He directed many plays and sometimes adapted them to Cyprus’ life in a most meaningful and admonishing, often sharply criticizing way. I saw him in his last one-man play ‘Rumca Küstüm’ based on verses by the poet Faize Özdemirciler and I wrote: The anger accumulating around the Cypriot Issue, mounts in all Cypriots’ hearts, it is in the foreground of their thoughts when they wake up and the last when they go to bed. Yaşar Ersoy is known to put the finger into the wound, shout out loud and raise his forefinger to shake people awake. The new play comes at the right time while the Cypriot Talks go on and on to find a solution. In his play Yaşar slips into the role of the poet in the process of creating the verses, arguing with himself and others, examining the issue.’ I could see myself with great excitement and sorrow that he gave his entire being and energy on that evening.

I saw him fighting for the existence of our beloved theatre, I was among them protesting …. Then Yaşar Ersoy spoke to us and unrolled the past of the theatre, the years of fight they had before and his voice thundered and he raised his fist, and his colleagues,  friends and supporters joined him…We cannot let it happen, we have fought, we must fight again. We do not recognize the authority of the district governor who is attacking the cultural life of our island, who is attacking the institution of theatre in general! And the audience fell in with songs of protests.

Yaşar Ersoy did me the honour to speak at the book launch of my last book ‘Art and Creativity in North Cyprus, Volume II and he could not have spoken truer words… Theatre is the most meaningful and significant doctrine of human beings’ essence that can be experienced throughout life. It is the most important doctrine, as it steers people into doing what’s right and good. It is the most meaningful doctrine, because as Bertolt Brecht says, “it is in the service of the greatest of all arts: the art of living”. It is a totalitarian art where the main material is human; its purpose is to provide direct communication between human beings, minds and hearts. 
Totalitarian art is the melting pot of all art forms. One can call a meeting place for visual, auditory, literary arts a ‘theatre stage’. People from various disciplines and languages can get together and mould into a brand new language and discipline to form the theatrical language. Thus, theatre speaks, appears and touches to all of our senses and perception through its peculiar and specific and utterly independent language… and what makes theatre different than other art forms is the existence of that “moment” and its ability to unite living organisms at one place. 
Yaşar Ersoy is a visionary and he has been true to himself for all his life. Today he is the ‘Grey Eminence’ of the Cyprus Theatre on both sides of the divide since he has taken his message to all Cypriots on many occasions. And still, he has remained a humble man and he regards himself as a servant of his people. I am deeply grateful to have met and known him.

Heidi Trautmann, Girne, 16 September 2017


Yaşar Ersoy, the Grey Eminence
Yaşar Ersoy, the Grey Eminence

Hakan Çakmak
Hakan Çakmak

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