The Attempt of the Official Ideology to Secularize Theatre in Turkey together with the Foundation of the Republic

Akın B. A.

Asian Research Journal of Arts Social Sciences, vol.2, no.1, pp.1-8, 2017 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier


The Westernization programme was officially initiated and implemented in Turkey together with the foundation of the Turkish Republic. The first attempts to secularize performances had already started in the Tanzimat Reform Era (the political reforms made in the Ottoman State in 1839). In this period, our traditional plays Meddah (public storyteller), Karagoz (shadow play), Orta Oyunu (Theatre-in-the-round) were kept in the background. The adaptation of these exhibitive forms, which audience loved a lot during the Ottoman Empire, into Western Theatre that is based on illusion, created a serious problem. Karagoz shadow play characters, which were structured around Ottoman’s polyphonic structure, could not survive changes made in their composition. The characters of Orta Oyunu, who were in connection with audience having no offer from them, were defeated in frame stage. This deconstruction in traditional forms will cause our theatre, which turned its face to Western theatre, to be unable to use its own resources. Although secularization of performances is a true effort that walks with the effort to secularize society, it brought the problem of saving the traditional forms together with it. This study, periodically traces this in Turkish theater.