East European Performing Arts Platform (EEPAP) supports the
development of contemporary performing arts (dance and theatre)
in 18 countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Tiyatro Medresesi, Turkey

Information about institution: 

The Madrasa theatre wants to be a centre where both amateur and professional artists can realize, push and go beyond their limits. This is devised through workshops, theatre camps, panels and conferences, all organized by Madrasa

The theatre believes that new relationships will appear between artists and researchers not only from theatre but also different disciplines all year round. Besides hosting festivals, theatre camps, courses and the activities of their research team, Madrasa intends to serve and house individual artists, researchers and groups who wish to conduct their own work in Madrasa. With its library, rehearsal rooms and inner courtyard with a view of olive trees, Madrasa is at the disposal of everyone who might wish to get away from their routines and concentrate on their studies.

Theatre Madrasa was initiated by Seyyar Sahne (Stage on the Go). Seyyar Sahne was founded in March 2001 through the cooperation of two actors and two actresses who had been involved in amateur theatre during their university years at Bogaziçi University and who searched for ways to prolong their theatrical studies on a rather semi-professional platform. Having broadened with the participation of new members, Seyyar Sahne began working on acting in the spring and summer of 2001.

At the end of this period of training, the group decided to stage Les Précieuses Ridicules (The Affected Young Ladies), a classical comedy by Molière. The project, and cast of which widened with the participation of certain actors from another semi-professional group (The Theatre of Graduates of ITU), was played in a variety of stages in and around Istanbul for a total of almost twenty times.

In the summer of 2002, the group launched a new project that focused on tragedies, meant to provide new ways of research and theatrical expression. This period of textual study (particularly on Aeschylus’ play Agamemnon) has evolved into the group’s writing their own original script. Having been produced after a long period of practice and rehearsal, the original script, Tales of Sirat, was staged and performed in different theatre halls in Istanbul and Ankara. During the theatre season 2003-2004, the members of Seyyar Sahne turned their efforts into creating another original theatre text. In the end of a period during which the process of writing the script went hand in hand with practical experiments on stage, a new production was born: a one-act play with the name The Most Beautiful Story of The World.

The general course of theatrical progress for Seyyar Sahne for the season 2004-2005 was shaped by the common training program and cooperation that the group had with The Theatre of Graduates of ITU during the summer of 2004. The summer training program aimed at reinforcing the creativity, technical expertise and acting skills of each and every actor in the group. The cooperation eventually led both groups to stage a co-production: Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The play was performed for around twelve times in Istanbul and Ankara.

2006 was a year when Seyyar Sahne, having now established stronger artistic ties with the group The Theatre of Graduates of ITU, decided to focus on certain workshops which would be carried out cooperatively. A product of this period has been the stage adaptation of the central part of the book "I, Pierre Rivière, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister and My Brother", which was edited by Michel Foucault and his friends from the juridical reports concerning a real life familial murder witnessed in the 19th century. The result has been a play with the title "I, Pierre Rivière…", a one act piece with a single actor, which is still being performed.

In the summer of 2006, Seyyar Sahne and The Theatre of Graduates of ITU held a summer camp in Kemeraltı district near Iznik with the purpose of working in an environment which activates theatrical creativity and of finding ways to lead a communal life at least for a certain period. In this summer camp that lasted for two weeks with the participation of the majority of members from both groups, the participants worked on vocal and bodily expression in acting, on dramatic action and on various approaches towards audience, all the three questions being based on and triggered by Grotowski’s principles. After years of cooperation and common training, the two groups decided to unite under the name Seyyar Sahne in the beginning of the theatre season 2006-2007.

Research Team will be composed of 6 to 8 people who will stay in Madrasa all the year round and do an intensive rehearsal during 5 or 6 days a week. Determined by the art director and the advisory board of the Madrasa, the Team will work on themes set by these experts.

The results of this research will be shared with other actors and theatre enthusiasts in Turkey and the world via performances, workshops and publications. They do not doubt that the Team that will work intensively would create a significant impact on the world of theatre in a short time of period. Following the audition to be held in January 2013, Research Team is supposed to start studying on the following research topics that have also been approved by the academics of the Advisory Board. The Team is especially expected to improve the pedagogical aspect of works and develop exercises for future workshops. Another important object is recording and publishing those exercises. Those performances that possibly spring from the works of the Team will meet the audience in various cities of Turkey and the world.

Movement and Vocal Maqam

This method is developed by Seyyar Sahne, inspiring from the movement theories of Laban and Delsarte. In this training method, movement is analyzed into its slightest independent variable and after that the actor works on these small details. Once the actor masters on these variables, he/she will be able to play with these variables, distort them, deform them and improvise.

Movement Maqam technique does not just enlarge the player’s range of movement, it changes the actor’s perception of the world, as well. While working on a role, an actor who is familiar with this technique, will be able to analyze his/her character’s movement behaviors easily, with the help of Maqam method. The analysis that is applied on movement in the Movement Maqam method can be applied on voice also. In this method which is developed by Seyyar Sahne, the main goal is to make the actors have control on the slightest detail/varibale of their voice. Vocal Maqam method is also designed to let the actor to discover his/her resonators which he/she does not use or know in the daily life and develope his/her vocal range.

Authentic Songs

Neither in the ancient Greek tragedies, nor in Iran Ta’ziyah form and nor in the traditional Far Eastern Theater; one can imagine a performer who can not sing. The gap between singing and the art of the actor is a modern phenomenon which is the result of the divergence of theater from its sources. For this reason, singing had been one of the main research topics of theatre masters such as Jerzy Grotowski and Eugenio Barba who tried to gather theater with its origins.

Research Team will work on the songs with specific vibrational qualities from different traditions such as Afro-Caribbean, Indian, Mongolian, Japanese, Persian and Arabic, while primarily focusing on traditional songs belonging to the cultures of Anatolia.

Solo Performance and Story Telling

The view that theatre has evolved from rituels is often highlighted by the theorists of theatre and anthropologists. This view is so widespread and true that to think of a different origin for the theatre is mostly difficult. On the other hand, it is also possible to find the roots of modern theatre in an individual performance of reading aloud literary texts before the audience or in the act of story telling. In order for developing a comprehensive theatrical theory, this non-ritualistic origin of theatre should also be taken into account. The second actor and the conversation between the two are the only features of theatre that story telling or reading of a literary text lacks of. Except those, all the characteristics of theatre apply to story telling.

Therefore, solo performance proves us that the only irreducible element of theatre is the act of story telling performed by a single actor before/between the audience. It is important to leave the actor alone on the stage in order to discover the essence of theatre.

Moreover, a single actor on the stage has more capability than two or more actors to represent the human condition. It is possible to find the story teller in almost all cultures with different names: Dengbej in the Kurdish culture, Kıssahan or Perdedari in the Persian, Kassas in the Arabic culture, Rapsodos in the Ancient Greek, Aşık or Meddah in the Turkish culture. All have different styles; they tell their stories in a song form or without a song, by dancing or sitting. Reserach Team will work on these traditions of story telling.

Bodily Awareness of the Actor

Modern life has given rise to serious chronic contractions in the human body. These contractions limit the capabilities of movement, action and the creative energy of the person. These can be eliminated only by developing an awareness of one’s body. Working on bodily awareness, leads to amazing transformations on the actor’s perception of space and his/her movement capacity. Research Team will focus on the way of transferring the techniques and philosophies developed by Alexander, Feldenkrais and Hatha Yoga into the work of acting in order to increase the bodily awareness of the actor.


The creators are going to finish the construction of the Theatre Madrasa in June 2012. Then they will start the theatre camps on acting in July. These camps will continue till the end of August. Then, beginning with September, we will have available studios to work and rooms to stay. They have not specified any topic, concept and a duration period for the artists who want to come and work in the Madrasa. Mainly they are expecting the artists to continue their current works or create new productions during their residential period. The Madrasa wants to serve as a space for artists to create and meet other artists in a peaceful atmosphere. Though they plan to arrange some workshops on acting, painting and sculpture if you are interested.

International cooperation:

Theatre Madrasa is a member of ResArtis (Worldwide Network of Artist Residencies)

International Workshops: "Masters are in the Madrasa"

Firstly, two members of the world-famous theatre group, SITI Company, will be at Madrasa in order to conduct a workshop in summer 2012. The project is expected to be finalised in a month and coordinated by Fatih Gençkal. They wish to bring together masters of the world theatre with the artists in Turkey in the Madrasa. First, Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards Work Center, the worldy renowned group, is expected to organise a workshop in February 2013.

The Work Center will be presented in the Madrasa with performances, video presentations and panels as well as workshops they will conduct. Other groups and masters whom we are in contact with to organise workshops for the artists in Turkey are as the following: Odin Teatret, Denmark; Studio Kalari – Kalaripayyatu (Indian war arts) India; Teatr Zar, Poland; Yaser Khasseb, Crazy Body Group, Iran.

ProPerFEST: Rehearsal and Performance Festival

ProPerFEST will be a real festival bywhich artists and the audience really meet each other. During ProperFEST artists from all around the world will stay and study in Madrasa and find a chance to see and discuss each other’s rehearsal methods. The premiere of those performences emerged at the end of this process will be realised in Madrasa with a great participation of the audience. With this feature which differentiates itself from other festivals, ProPerFEST will become a tradition within a short period of time, we believe.

They are also sure that Theatre Madrasa will become a brand in the world theatre through the performances of the plays produced during ProPerFEST. Furthermore, they think that ProPerFEST gives an important chance to artists in Turkey to acquaint themselves with the techniques of foreign artists. The date we envisage for ProPerFEST is June 2014.


Theatre Camps 2012

Theatre Camps constitute the starting point of the Madrasa. As the founding team of the Madrasa, they have been organising theatre camps for the last six years. Those camps were held in Gümüşlük Academy and in a summer house on the shore of Lake İznik. Those works that they initially have done with own group in two-week periods have turned into a summer-long study that consists of different periods and includes members of university theatre groups and other individual participants. Over the years they observed that theatre camps lead to remarkable differences in both us and other attendants.

These camps proved us with concrete examples that experiement, research and concentration are so critical in theatrical activity. Both the enthusiasm that experience generates in us and the interest towards the camps directed us to establish a centre for keeping research activity permanent.

Theatre camp is designed as an intensive research study on actor’s technique. Camp is a period during which production-oriented actors could explore the technicalities of their art, confront their problems and cliches. In short, theatre camp can be defined as a maintenance period for the actors. During the camp, actors won’t focus on rehearsing a piece or a scene; they will concentrate on the acting techniques. During the 2 weeks of the theatre camp, the creativity of the participants is aimed to be stimulated by designing an unusual spatial and temporal order. Camp is designed to be a period, during which the participants could improve and transform themselves in every aspect and discover the conditions under which the creative activity is possible. Theatre camps will be one of the regular activities of Theatre Madrasa and occur in the summer of 2012, between 8 July and 1 September, within a total of eight-week program composed of four two-week periods.


Theatre Madrasa has not published any material yet since it has been constructed since October 2011. However, there will be a translation group to be established in Madrasa especially for filling the deficiency of resources in the field of theatre and performing arts. The first translations supposed to be published by the Theatre Madrasa Publications until the end of 2013 are as the following: Heart of Practice, Thomas Richards; Stanislavski in Rehearsal, Vasily Toporkov; A Theater of Envy, Rene Girard; Theater: Solitude and Craft, Eugenio Barba.

The products of the Research Team or workshops and the papers presented during festivals or seminars will also be published by the Madrasa Publications.