A theatre play around the life and times of Ahmet Kaya is set to take Turkey by storm and will be performed in the art form of a musical.
The musical, Hep Sonradan, is to tell the story of Kaya, a Kurdish singer from Malatya, the eastern Turkish city that’s about 1 100 kilometres from Istanbul. Kaya used to refer to himself as a Kurd of Turkey.
Before the play’s debut, Cüneyt Yalaz, actor and copywriter, said in a speech at the Istanbul UNIQ Hall: “I play the character of Salih. A childhood friend of Kaya. Then Salih’s, also a Korsakov patient and suffering from dementia, comes to see him many years later.”
The musical theatre is produced by the Bosporus Performance Arts Community (BGST).
In the musical, Salih’s kids try to bring back their father’s memory through Kaya’s songs. Salih was not only a friend to Kaya, but also his confidant during the latter’s years. In the play, Salih mirrors his life through the musical genius that was his friend.
It’s about time Ahmet Kaya is remembered
Telling his audience about preparing the musical theatres during rehearsals, an excited Yalaz said: “One hand was exhausted but the other was joyous. We think this is an important project. Kaya’s songs are now on stage for the first time. Ahmet Kaya is the conscience of Turkey and the play is targeting the revival of this conscience.”
Kaya ranks among the top exports of Turkey’s rich musical history and this shows today, where his songs are still being listened to. Yalaz expressed that Kaya is an important figure both his songs and stance to social events. “Doing something for him is very exciting and valuable,” added Yalaz.
Feride, a multi-layered character
Also touching on his Feride character in the play, theatre actor Elit Andaç Çam said the character was strong and equally soft. “Feride is a multi-layer character. Feride become stronger due to the hardships and wounds he passed through but at the same time she has a child in her spirit,” said Çam.
Çam said delivering the character was a huge responsibility and honour. He further said as actors they would like to be cast in plays that are profound and require courage. Unfortunately, we don’t have many plays like this. Playing in a sophisticated project, which has a word, is very important which we rarely live.”
Çam said: “Everyone has an Ahmet Kaya. I have been thinking that if Kaya was alive what kind of songs he would have composed to tackle the challenges faced by this country.”
We remember the past by means of songs
Kardeş Türküler (Brother Songs) soloist Ferral Öney said it was their 26th anniversary and it was fortunate for his group to be part of the musical play.
“Playing both a singer and actor is exciting. The Salih character has difficulty remembering his memory. This is helped through Kaya’s songs. Salih is part of the history and the past can’t wipe him off. As a group, we want people to remember Turkey’s past.”
The debut of the play ran for a good two hours and was attended by among others, Kaya’s wife, Gülten. Also present were many celebrities and actors.
Who is Ahmet Kaya
Ahmet Kaya was born in 1957 in Adıyaman, a southeastern city in Turkey. Many of his albums with over than 20, broke sales records. He was by far one of the most influential and controversial singers of the last century in Turkey. Kaya was very outspoken on social and political issues and had to flee Turkey for France to survive political oppression.
A day of shame: Feb. 10, 1999
After Kaya became a celebrity, the press became interested in him. He was invited to the Award Night held by the Tabloid Press Journalists Association. He made a short speech in which he said: “I will include a Kurdish song on my new album,” causing wild reactions from some singers and journalists.
A day later, the Hürriyet newspaper published a photograph showing Kaya on stage with a PKK flag. Thus, he was sued for supporting terrorism, and he felt obliged to leave Turkey for voluntary exile in France.
Hürriyet wrongly accused him of saying: “I left my car in the bastards’ country,” which he later refuted, saying: “I did not say anything like that. What I said was that I couldn’t even drive a car in my home country because of three bustards.” This phoney news resulted in another investigation by the public prosecutor. Some local administrations in Turkey prohibited his albums from being sold in music stores.
In November 2000, Kaya’s fans were shocked to learn of sudden death in Paris while working on his next album: “Hoşçakalın Gözüm, Biraz da Sen Ağla” (Goodbye my dear, it’s your turn to cry).
Ahmet Kaya was buried in Paris after during a packed funeral. He left twenty-four albums behind, seven of which were released posthumously.