adapted by Yasar Ersoy
The Theatre Festival contribution by the Nicosia
By Heidi Trautmann
proud to be what I am …
The storm of oppression will be followed
By the rain of my blood
I am proud
to give my life
Benjamin Moloise 1985
A verse written by the South African poet shortly
before his death in October 1985 when he was hanged by the apartheid government
for having murdered a policeman, an accusation which is believed to be fabricated.
The time of apartheid 1948 - 1994.
Athol Fugard organized multiracial theatre, writing,
producing and acting; in 1962 he started publicly to support the Anti-Apartheid
Movement. The play The Island was first performed in 1973 under a different
name. The script is based on true stories, stories that were heard from
prisoners on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was kept prisoner for 24 years.
It was extremely dangerous for the writer as well as
the actors so they had nothing written which could serve as proof. The actors
were improvising in front of their audience, the main contents disguised by the
inclusion of the Greek political drama Antigone, the fight for human values and
against political injustice. I have read the interview with John Kani and Winston Ntshona, the first actors in
The Island about their first tentative steps and the problems they encountered.
In 1988 the Nicosia Municipality Theatre had brought
out the play with the actors Osman Alkaş and Erol Refikoğlu, and now, in 2013,
25 years later, Yaşar Ersoy has adapted the play for two women to take the
roles of revolutionaries kept prisoners - with Özgür Oktay and Döndü Özata - in
the prison of an island. But let me start from the beginning…...
It was the second performance of the play although I
had heard about the rehearsals from time to time and I was very anxious to see
the two excellent actresses in the roles of the prisoners. I entered the
auditorium and found myself en face of two sculptures by Sevcan Çerkez,
representing the two female prisoners, the likelihood was great. I had seen
them in production. Life size figures hanging with their arms chained to a
beam. The black curtain was lifted and in the same pose the two protagonists were
taking over; it was a surprise effect. Well done. In the centre of the stage
was The Island, the cell where the two women lived, the one soon to be
released, the other one sentenced for life. They share everything, tend their
wounds, wake and sleep, recount their stories, and listen to the ongoings
outside, frightened….and in-between start to talk and rehearse Antigone, talk
about rights and injustice, about friendship and about life and freedom: when
does your human conscience allow to be disobedient to the State, the basic
outline of the Antigone play. A play within a play.
Özgür and Döndü put in all they got, passion, body and
soul, they were prisoners, desperate, foolish, falling into moods, caring, all
the tunes were played and at the end when they performed Antigone and Creon in
front of the prison’s audience, standing there, stretching to full height, they
shouted: ‘Gods of Our Fathers! My Land! My Home!
Time waits no longer. I go now to my living death, because I honoured those
things to which honour belongs.'
And while the outcry reached the audience,
the background came crashing down, and we saw ourselves in the mirror
fragments, we saw ourselves as the audience of the prison.
Author: Athol Fugard; Translation: Yucel
Erten; Stage adaption and directing: Yasar Ersoy; Dramaturg: Aliye Ummanel;
Décor and Costumes: Özlem Yetkili; assistant director; Umut Ersoy; sculptures: Sevcan Cerkez…
The play will be going on after the
Theatre Festival as part of the new Season’s programme.