Between Two Curtains

STARTING HIS THEATER EDUCATION WITH HIS FATHER, CAN GÜRZAP PURSUED HIS STUDIES AT THE ANKARA STATE CONSERVATORY AND THE CENTRAL LONDON SCHOOL OF SPEECH AND DRAMA. WE TALKED IN HIS OFFICE WITH GÜRZAP, WHO HAS GIVEN MANY YEARS OF SERVICE TO TURKISH THEATER.

I’ve read that you received your first theater education from your rather. What sort of training was that?
Actually, more than training, I grew up watching the City Theater, and the Children’s Theater within it, and seeing very good actors and very good plays with my father. I spent a lot of time with the great actors who were my father’s friends. I also spent a lot of time with Muhsin Ertuğrul, who was a friend of my father’s as well as his teacher and the teacher of the whole Turkish theater. These things are very important for pre-school education. And then of course the education, discipline and teaching staff of the Ankara State Conservatory were an inestimable boon for me.

So you had no systematic study with your father?
No, no. The truth is that my father didn’t particularly want me to become an actor. I wanted to be a film director. My father was a man who believed in science and education. He always used to say, “One sacrifice from a family is enough!” Our family made a lot of sacrifices in other words. But I don’t really see it that way.

Did you ever go on tour with your father?
When I was very little, my father took me on tour with him. It was my first time to fly. The plane was a Dakota and you could see the propellers and the belly. I was about ten at the time. We went to Izmir. In fact, my father had bought me a bicycle at a time when they were non-existent. Foreign bicycles weren’t sold much in Turkey because they were too expensive. “Daddy,” I asked, “How are we going to take it on the plane?” He told me not to worry. He took the bike apart and packed it up. He also knew some people, and somehow or other it was put on the plane. Later they put it back together. I rode up and down the length of Izmir park on that bike.

You were probably devastated they took the bicycle apart.
I was wondering how they do would be able to do it. Erector Sets (aka Meccano) were popular at the time.

A sort of mechanical Lego. They screwed together, I think. Were they made of wood?
Yes. My father said they would take the bike apart and put it together just like an Erector Set.

Architecturally speaking, is there any theater either in Turkey or abroad that you particularly like?
There are many beautiful theaters and opera houses in the West. Monumental buildings 100-200 years old. You won’t find a single country in Europe that doesn’t have magnificent theaters and opera houses. How they were conceived and built back in the day is a wonder. The back stage area is so spacious it can accommodate even today’s modern technology. But fires erupt, earthquakes occur, buildings collapse… They have huge elevators at the back that can be raised to stage level and lowered. I can’t say the same of us, and that is very sad. To my mind, the most beautiful theaters in Turkey are the Ankara Büyük Tiyatro, Küçük Tiyatro and Üçüncü Tiyatro.

Is there any school you particularly favor among the different plays and theatrical companies you’ve seen in Turkey and abroad?
For me there is good theater and bad theater. Good actors and bad actors. Whether you are of some school or not isn’t important. It’s the same in all art. But if you mean what is good and bad in general, that’s a long story.

RETURN TO THE STAGE
In the coming season Can Gürzap is returning to the theatrical stage after a hiatus of a year and a half. Together with Sema Aybars he is staging in the Istanbul State Theaters The Visit by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, one of the 20th century’s greatest playwrights and thinkers according to Gürzap.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE TURKISH LANGUAGE
Along with theater and cinema, Can Gürzap emphasizes the importance of the school he runs where he also is the founder. Gürzap says he hopes through his school to encourage the proper use of language on radio and television and in theater and cinema by training professionals who will use the language in the best possible way in the mass media.