Meltem Arikan, Memet Ali Alabora, Pinar Ogun – "We want the audience to see that the decisions they make are effective more than they assume. We call them to realise that there are no rescuers and it is time for each one of us to take our own responsibility."
Meltem, can you tell us what you have been working on since our interview last year?
Meltem Arikan: Mostly on the play Mi Minor and my last novel – which I'm still writing – Erospa.
A word on the novel?
Meltem: This one is quite different from my previous novels. It is a fantasy novel based on a female hero who is a hacker.
What is the story of the play Mi Minor about? And who are the main characters?
Meltem: Mi Minor is a play that is set in a freedom-in-a-box country, Pinima. The moment you enter ‘the playground’ you also enter Pinima. Pinima is a country where, despite being a democracy, everything is decided by the President. The President sleeps neither day nor night, and he does so in order to find out what is right and what is wrong for his people. The smart, handsome President is also the candidate of both parties in the forthcoming presidential elections. Since the treble sounds of her piano are forbidden to be played in Pinima, the Pianist, with other musicians who unite with her, may introduce you to a completely different experience during the performance. Through social media, the Pianist and her team will broadcast live all the country’s affairs to the world. The moment the Mi Minor performance starts it can be followed live from anywhere in the world, with digital actors and a worldwide digital audience also able to participate. Memet Ali is playing the handsome President, and Pinar is playing the Pianist.
Autocratic president vs. Free-spirited pinanist: this time you will have YOUR say!
What inspired you for this play?
Meltem: As you know, I've been very much involved in social media for the last two years... and I guess the events I witnessed all around the world through Twitter and Facebook inspired me to create this play.
Alright. Can you tell us more about the digital aspects of the play?
Memet Ali Alabora: As opposed to the usual theatre experience, in our play we advise the audience to use their smart phones during the play. There are many layers of Mi Minor. The theatre audience come to watch a show, where they watch the things happening in the country Pinima. As they witness what is going on, a pianist and her musician friends, together with teenagers who join them, try to make the audience be aware of what is going on. And they try to pull the audience to their side. They try to do this by interacting with the audience and by using social media. They Tweet and Ustream the audience's reactions and share them with the world and also with the theatre audience, who can follow the social media while watching the play from their smart phones, tablets or laptops. So Mi Minor has an actual audience and a digital audience.
There is going to be digital actors who will join the Pianist and her team during the play from ten different countries all around the world. They will help spread the word of the Pianist and her team about what is going on in Pinima. The digital world will be a medium for the Pianist, her team and the digital audience who joins them to stand against the oppressive Pinima government, where the oppression comes in sugar-coated boxes. So we invite the digital audience and digital actors from all around the world to stand for freedom of speech and freedom of thought in solidarity, not only for Pinima but for all the world.
Excellent. Can you just clarify "sugar-coated boxes" please?
Memet Ali: It can be better understood by visiting pinima.miminor.net, where everything seems perfect. Pinima and its President promote their democracy at every chance they get. Pinima is a sugar-coated democracy where everything is decided by the President. Pinima is proud of not having equality between men and women because all men are equal and all women are equal within themselves in Pinima. Everything is free in Pinima as long as the President approves. In Pinima, you can even buy freedom of thought, so you can think freely although expressing your thoughts is not on sale yet.
Okay, thanks. Since the play will be very interactive and will depend on the participation and influence of the audiences, does this means the outcome will be different every time?
Memet Ali: Most certainly, yes. Mi Minor is a play that at every stage invites the audience to make a choice.
Doesn't that put a lot of pressure on the actors who have to adapt to the audience's reactions and improvise?
Memet Ali: That was the biggest challenge that we tried to deal with during the rehearsals. We noticed new things each time we had guests during rehearsals. It was not a typical rehearsal period. Each actor had to discover their presence and status regarding the audience. We still have to assume most of the reactions until we have our first preview. We are going to make a preview in order to understand how the play works with the audience two weeks before the premiere. The actors of Mi Minor are prepared not just to act their parts but to become players and gamers. We will try to construct the play every time we have a show.
Pinar Ogun: In Mi Minor the audience are also the players. So we can say they will find themselves involved more than they're prepared to be. My character is standing against the oppressions using music and dance. Because she is not allowed to express herself with her piano, that makes her furious. So she tries to attract attention and demands freedom of expession.
How far are you going to let the play detach itself from the script, and what sort of controls will you have during the play?
Memet Ali: As I said, there are many layers to the play. Text is the major one. The show which the audience is supposed to watch derives from the text and it might have slight changes. However, the play which the Pianist and her team call people to join will change in every performance. As in all plays or games, there are certain rules for the actors and the audience, which will be shared before each performance.
Okay, that's clear, thanks. According to the military, all future wars will be conducted both on the battlefield and in cyberspace. Because of the widespread use of the internet (more than two billion users worldwide), do you think all future revolutions will also have a significant digital dimension to them? Is it a powerful democratic advantage?
Meltem: We are in a transition period from an analogue world to the digital world. The analogue world was defined by a patriarchal system. The digital world will terminate the patriarchal system and establish a new system. The patriarchal system used the game of so-called democracy in order to maintain the analogue world during the last century. However, it is now being understood that democracy is a big lie and we need new types of political, economic and social solutions using intelligent platforms for human beings.
After the UK police surrounded and threatened to invade the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Julian Assange said that the only thing that stopped them from entering and seizing him was the fact that his and Wikileaks' supporters were outside live-streaming what was happening for everyone to see. Will the actors play this role of digital 'watchers' and citizen reporters in the play, or is the audience?
Memet Ali: There are two teams of actors in our play: one team consists of the happy inhabitants of Pinima; the second is the Pianist, the musicians and the teenagers who join them. The Pianist and her team will be the digital 'watchers' and citizen reporters and they will try to recruit people from the audience to do this as well.
Meltem: As you know, I support Wikileaks and Assange and I agree with what he says. Just like abuse and incest are kept as secret in the name of 'the sacred family', governments do such violence and censorship to their peoples and cover it all up with the use of media under the name of 'the sacred country'. That’s why I believe in the importance of social media where people fearlessly speak out the facts and corruptions they’re facing in their countries and societies, and where people seek freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
Does the internet infrastructure in Turkey allow you to easily broadcast such an event?
Pinar: We don't know yet, we'll see! (smiles)
Alright, fingers crossed! Where and when will the premiere be?
Pinar: The premiere will be in İstanbul/Macka, KucukCiftlik Park, on 1 December 2012. It's a concert venue where they will build a huge tent in the park. The other sessions will be on 2, 5, 9, 13, 20, 26 and 27 December.
Did you get financial support from public or private funds?
Pinar: Not yet, we're still working on it. We need it, of course. We have a sponsorship guide on miminor.net, for would-be sponsors.
What is the origin of the names Mi Minor and Pinima? Pinima seems inspired by the mathematical number Pi, is there a reason?
The Pinnish president, played by Memet Ali Alabora, receives the CONOVER award.
Meltem: I was inspired not only by one country but by the patriarchy that rules the world. Freedom is a problematic issue all around the world: East, West, South, North. Because we are all united and we are all entering into the digital world. People in the West are living under the same specifications and institutions belonging to the analogue world as people in the East. The only difference is that the West says yes to the transition to the digital world under the technological perspective, but says no to its sociological, psychological and philosophical perspectives. When I shared the script of Mi Minor with people from various countries they responded almost the same way saying "I am living in this country" or "You've described the conditions of the country that I live in." Even though it is often suggested that there are huge differences between countries, in fact the whole world is ruled by the same fearfulness and censoring techniques of the patriarchal system.
I wrote the script of Mi Minor after spending two years on social media and after I witnessed the oppressions all around the world.
What is the status of theatre in Turkey? Memet Ali, you told me a few months ago that many theatres were closing...
Memet Ali: In April 2012 a debate started on publicly funded theatres. The government announced that they'll shut them down. After several protests by the artists and the audiences the government realised that it’s not possible to completely demolish them. However, new legislation was made and the publicly funded theatres are in a transition now. Turkey is transforming into a more conservative state day by day. And publicly funded theatres are intended to be made part of this transformation. A concept of conservative artists was brought into discussion. Theatres are likely to be placed under the conservative mindset.
It's quite surprising for a country that is getting richer to close cultural spaces. Do you think this is due to a neo-liberal policy that wants to close anything that doesn't make money in the short term? Is it a recent trend in Turkey?
Memet Ali: There are such cases which are due to neo-liberal policies, but this one is not. This is about the conservative transformation of the country. Publicly funded theatres are considered theirs by the goverment and they don't want controversial works to be staged.
What do you wish the audience of the play to learn from this experience?
Memet Ali: We want the audience to see that the decisions they make are effective more than they assume. We call them to realise that there are no rescuers and it is time for each one of us to take our own responsibility.
Do you have special comments and other things to add regarding the play or digital freedom?
Pinar: As Meltem says, people from all around the world are in a transition period from an analogue to a digital world. Since thousands of years, people have been frightened by the oppressive governing of the patriarchy. Today, through the main media, this projection is getting more and more effective on people because the patriarchal system doesn't want to lose its power and presence. Now it's time to demand freedom of speech and freedom of expression and be aware of the deceptive projections of main media and the fear that is projected upon us. Now it's time for each and every one of us to struggle to stop all the censorship of the digital medium where people can access information freely and express themselves freely. I guess the most important statement in Mi Minor is:
"I’m guilty! I know that running away from realities is running away from pain. I confess, all kinds of escape are generated by fear, nurtured by cowards. I do not accept to be frightened."
As an actress, I feel privileged to have the chance to be in this play, which hands a mirror to the audience and the actors to look at their own faces in the crowds.
Follow Liberté-info on Twitter
Did you like this interview? We are a small group of volunteers creating content and updating news on this site. We need more volunteers to help promote and defend digital democracy and whistleblowers. Help us move to the next level! Get involved in a critical issue for the future of democracy! Join us!
Also, please consider supporting us through a bitcoin donation: 1Pn8DSto8ey294p11swNiboRDwzwXh41cR
This work by Association Liberté-info is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License