We had a pleasant interview with Umut Görkem Demir, one of the actors of the Perde Art Theater, about the theater life.
–Hello Mr. Umut. Can you tell us about yourself?
Hello, I’m Umut Gorkem Demir. I was born in 1993 in Uşak. I completed my primary and secondary education in Uşak. I came to Ankara in 2011 for my university education. I graduated from Hacettepe University, English Language and Literature Department. I have been working as an English Teacher for 8 years. To be honest, It was not a surprise for me that I got this profession. Since my childhood, I have had a great interest in foreign languages. Therefore, working as an educator in a field that I am already interested in is an indescribable pleasure for me. I am trying to teach English to younger age groups. Although this is quite difficult, it also allows you to experience professional pleasure at its peak. Because there is a group of students in the class who are eager to learn every word that comes out of your mouth, and you are a very important role model for them. Although we, as teachers, are sometimes overwhelmed by this responsibility, we can actually compare the classroom environment to a show that starts and ends every lesson, and the teacher to an actor who is always on the spotlight. Based on this analogy, I can say that I give theater the same importance and value that I give to teaching, which is my profession. In addition to theatre, cinema, literature and music are my main interests. I can say that I long for nostalgia in every aspect of my life. It may be necessary to keep up with the changing and developing world, but I also believe that we should not lose our core human feelings.
–When and how did you get into theater?
I can say that I started theater with the ‘theatre club’, which was conducted under the guidance of Turkish teachers during my secondary school years. In a play called Family Ties (Aile Bağları), I played the role of the rich girl’s understanding and caring father just like Hulusi Kentmen, who was a famous movie and theater actor usually starring in these roles. (Laughs) Going back to the reason why I was interested in theater; I was born and raised in a small Aegean city. There was no theater company in my city. Once in a blue moon, theater companies would come from metropolitan cities such as Istanbul, Ankara or Izmir, and they would play children’s plays at the matinee and adult plays at the soiree. I watched a play for the first time in elementary school. The name of the game, if I’m not mistaken, was Gold Scissors and Silver Dipper. From the first minute to the last minute of the play, I watched it with my mouth open. The lights, the scenery, the costumes, the acting… You cannot imagine how fascinating I found the game as a child. Here I swallowed the stage dust for the first time as a spectator, perhaps in a very clumsy children’s play. Afterwards, as an actor on stage, I swallowed that magic powder with pleasure many times, and I think I will for a long time. (laughs)
–Which character do you give life to in the game called İstibdat Kumpanyası?
I’m acting as Recai Efendi in the play. Recai Efendi is a fictional character who lived in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, during the Depression Period that would last for 30 years. Recai Efendi, whose fortune is black enough to coincide with this difficult and dark period, also has a theater company, where he is with his Ortaoyuncu (Traditional turkish theater actors) friends who have never had an acting education. Recai Efendi and his team will play a western piece for the first time. In fact, as it is mentioned in the play, perhaps for the first time they will do ‘theatre with a script’. Because, let alone the public, most of the theater actors assumed to be more enlightened were illiterate. That’s why I say, maybe they will perform a play with text for the first time, by the order of Şeref Pasha. Along with this great responsibility, Recai Efendi tries to keep his mischievous and traditional spirit alive without losing his head. The weight of being the team leader, the ignorance and incompetence of the whole team, the fact that their lives are at the end of the day will put Recai Efendi and his team quite hard throughout the play. This tragicomic situation leaves the audience with endless laughter and questions that they will think about for a long time, maybe not find the answer.
–What would you like to say to theater lovers?
The theater is a barometer of the country’s rise or fall, said Lorca. Based on this simple and meaningful statement, I would like to emphasize again and again the necessity of theater for a society. Theater is an oxygen mask for all humanity, not only didactically, but also emotionally. While I respectfully greet the beautiful people who read this magazine and are interested in theater, I would like to end my words with a line from master Haldun Taner’s play, I Close My Eyes, I Do My Duty (Gözlerimi Kaparım Vazifemi Yaparım):
“Since you think
So you don’t exist
In the land of the unthinking.”