The Cherry Orchard

Theatre as a way of expression

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A city wall which tells its own story, a piece of land that is still full of life and a theatre which wants to be more than just a play. On August 13 – 30 the New Brooklyn Theater, in association with Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, staged a site-specific production of a new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard in Turkish in Istanbul. On the surface this classic play shows a famliy that fails to save their land from change and greed. As a class system breaks, so do relationships. As development creates a future for one, it destroys a history for others. In the end the family in this play loses their land. The play is an apt choice for the Yedikule gardens as they face new questions of development and community impact.

For more than 1600 years the former green areas of the Yedikule gardens became now dust and dirt. In July 2013, the government began bulldozing the these gardens that line the fifth-century Byzantine walls of old Constantinople. In the eyes of the protestors, the government’s plans put development at odds with historical memory, sustainable living, and preservation.

As we rehearsed this play, we were surrounded by stories of preseverance and human resilience.

Jonathan Solari, artistic director

The production wanted to coincide with the announcement of an alternative, agriculturally inclusive plan for the space by community organizers. Each performance will included a talkback discussion between the audience, the cast, invited elected officials, archaeologists, botanists, and community leaders.

We hope to inspire a conversation about change and to share just a small amount of the inspiration and knowledge that we’ve gained from our new friends in the Yedikule Bostani.

Jonathan Solari, artistic director

For more details about Yedikule Bostani have a look at our post Urban Agriculture and the Transformation of Yedikule.

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