Turkish Actors Protest State Control of Theaters
ISTANBUL - Hundreds of actors and supporters of free expression recently demonstrated in the heart of Istanbul against what they call growing political control of the country's municipal and state theaters.
Istanbul City Theater sparked controversy with its April 2012 production of Daily Obscene Secrets by Chilean playwright Marco Antonio de la Parra.
Conservative media outlets condemned the play as "vulgarity at the hands of the state," after which Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas, a member of the ruling AK Party, promptly transferred control of what is produced by municipal theaters to his administration.
Despite the protests that followed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly backed his mayor in an address to party supporters in which he accused actors and producers of being elitists who look down on their own people by creating their own areas for power and profit.
"Those involved in theater stand outside the bars with a whiskey glass in their hand, an all-knowing attitude, and insult the people without producing anything," he said.
If state theaters need government support, he added, then government should decide what plays are produced, and then warned that he is considering privatizing the country's 58 state theaters. (...)