New and Joyful Encounters with Macbeth in the Turkish Theatre

Macbeth / A Nightmare for Two

Founded in 2006, Theatre BeReZe makes theatre for adults and young audiences. BeReZe is known for works combining object theatre, physical storytelling performances, and buffoon performances. Macbeth / A Nightmare for Two is a product of such an approach. At the center of the stage is a bed surrounded with many night lamps, hanging objects, and to the left is a bobbling coffee machine. A clownish couple, Macbeth (Erkan Uyanıksoy) and Lady Macbeth (Elif Temuçin), lying on the bed, cannot fall asleep. Their bedroom is occupied with a sense of uneasiness and sleeplessness since “Macbeth has murdered sleep.” From the first moment to the end, everything happening on stage intertwines with an idea that might be called an “insomniac aesthetic.” Adapted by Erkan Uyanıksoy and Elif Temuçin, directed by Doğu Akal, Macbeth: A Nightmare for Two premiered on 12 February 2016 in Istanbul, was staged in many theatre festivals in Europe, and is still being staged during this theatre season. Performance brings Macbeth’s story on stage through the eyes of a clownish Macbeth-based couple who seem to belong to every age, not only that of Shakespeare.

This couple seems in-between things like the hanging objects above them, as well as being in-between dream and nightmare, telling and performing, role and self, life and death, sleeping and waking. Throughout the performance, they are repeatedly turning on and off the lamps and drinking cups of coffee. At every turn they are using new and different ways to tell Macbeth’s story. Uyanıksoy, for example, may present Macbeth’s encounter with witches as though he is something in-between a traditional storyteller (called “meddah” in Turkish theatre) and a clown storyteller, or he may tell a scene as if he is on the toilet.

Elif Temuçin as Lady Macbeth is preparing a tomato sauce for the scene where they will kill the king. They describe yet another scene where they are giving a free party to the people. They present these in different ways, sometimes suggesting cartoons or manga movies, popular TV series and musicals, sometimes making fun of today’s political leaders and so on. Uyanıksoy and Temuçin are really the masters of their domain in using the different objects –lamps, flowers, slippers, coffee, toilet rolls, cosmetics, in a highly creative way to suggest the theatrical universe of Macbeth to the audience. In doing so, they manage to seem like an ordinary couple rather than an elevated, noble man and wife. Many things on stage, and the way they are utilizing them, seem very simple. Although the performers present themselves as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, in many scenes it is possible to regard them as “Erkan” and “Elif,”who present the story of Macbeth as it touches their own daily lives. A Nightmare for Two becomes a shared experience for several sets of two: Macbeth and performer Uyanıksoy, Lady Macbeth and performer Temuçin, the actors and the audience.

The performance ends in a vicious circle between sleep and sleeplessness where the performers return to the beginning of the play. This makes us feel as if this happens every night, as the couple vainly seek to find peace both in their minds and in the world. Considering the clown-like smiles on their faces at the beginning and end of the performance, when they meet each other like life and death, sleeping and awaking, there remains one question: Is life a short smile which twinkles on our faces during a nightmare?

Eylem Ejder (a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Theatre at Ankara University, Turkey.)
Fall 2018
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