Turkish author Orhan Pamuk on Dutch stage

This video is called An Evening with Orhan Pamuk.

The Silent House (Turkish: Sessiz Ev) is the second novel by Turkish author Orhan Pamuk; published in 1983.

It was translated into many languages, including languages with relatively few speakers like Catalan. It was never translated into English for some reason.

Now, the novel has been turned into a play in the Dutch language, for Onafhankelijk Toneel Rotterdam. A play lasting for almost three hours, longer than most other plays.

Before the play started on Friday 16 April, there was a lecture by Ms Eve Hopkins, dramaturgist of the theatre company, about Orhan Pamuk in the perspective of Turkish history and society, and about the characters in the novel and in the play.

The central character is grandmother Fatma. Born in 1890, so, 90 years old in 1980, the time at which the novel is set. Just before a military coup d’état in Turkey. A big picture of a 1980 Anadol Turkish car is on stage for the 1980s atmosphere.

The setting of the play is Cennethisar, a seaside town not far from Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul.

Fatma’s (arranged) marriage had not been happy. She herself is a pious Muslim, her late husband Selahattin was an atheist doctor who died from alcohol. Fatma’s terrible secret is that she had violently attacked her husband’s mistress and her husband’s two small children by that mistress, almost, not quite, killing them.

During the novel (and the play), Fatma’s three grandchildren come to visit her. The two grandsons have alcohol problems like their grandfather and father. Their sister Nilgun, a communist sociology student, in vain tries to stop them drinking.

Another grandson of Selahattin (and his mistress) is Hasan. He gets involved in the Grey Wolves (MHP), a fascist terrorist party. During one scene in the play, Hasan has a wolf mask as a symbol of his politics. He is in love with his cousin Nilgun; who does not love him. Finally, Hasan murders Nilgun.

Famous Dutch actress Marlies Heuer played the central character Fatma. She is 58 years old, and played the role convincingly. Not in the sense that she really looked 90 years old. Or that her voice sounded like a 90 year-old; that would have made it difficult for the audience to hear her.

Bert Luppes played two roles: both Fatma’s late husband in retrospective scenes; and Recep, illegitimate son of her husband and servant.

This is a video about the play.

The play deals well with the important issues of relationships between personal lives, society, and politics. And how violence may beget more violence.

8 thoughts on “Turkish author Orhan Pamuk on Dutch stage

  1. MPs debate altered constitution plan

    Turkey: Parliament has begun debating a series of amendments to the constitution that are fiercely contested by opposition parties who say that the government’s proposals are aimed at diluting the powers of secular opponents within the judiciary.

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government says that the reforms to the constitution – a legacy of the 1980 military coup – would make Turkey more democratic and strengthen its bid to join the European Union.

    The 29 draft amendments would make disbanding political parties more difficult, open the way for the trial of military commanders by civilian courts and give parliament a say in the appointment of senior judges.



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