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Stage & Acting

Santa Monica – A Source of Inspiration

Visiting Akın E. Şipal

Diagnosis: Leukaemia. The theatre play “Santa Monica” tells the story of a family that, together with their ailing son, fights against the deadly disease.  The spectator is taken along on their journey from Essen to Turkey, through Brazil, all the way to Santa Monica, California. Throughout this journey, the spectator also accompanies the parents and both of their sons through every stage of the illness. Heavy stuff, which Akın still manages to bring across both with appropriate humour and light-heartedness. He does this without unnecessary seriousness, but rather with optimism both in the words and the presentation.

The first performance of “Santa Monica“ was in the beginning of 2015 at the Nationaltheater Mannheim. Akın received the Förderpreis Literatur (Engl. Literary Advancement Prize- ed.) from the Kulturbehörde Hamburg. It was a great success, as his first piece of theatre “Vor Wien” won the country-wide competition “In Zukunft.” In addition to his work in the theatre, Akin has his own production company and writes his own film scripts. We thought to ourselves; an interesting man, who must have a lot of stories to tell! And he told us about himself, about writing and about his fascination with Mesut Özil.

Would you please briefly introduce yourself?

I am Akın and I live in in Hamburg. At the moment I am working on my Master’s in Film at the Hochschule für bildende Künste. In the slipstream of my film studies, I write pieces of theatre and film scripts. Recently, together with two director-friends of mine, Arne Körner and Martin Prinoth, I started a production company called Against Reality Pictures. Arne directed our first full-length film “The Bicycle.“ They showed the film at the Hofer Filmtagen and the Festival des Films du Monde in Montréal. We won the Prize of the Jury in the student category in Montréal.

Right now I am mostly writing for theatre. But this can always change, and I like to do both.

Where is the centre of life for you?

There are many places where I feel good and that could be called the centre of my life. I spend a lot of time in the Ruhr area. Likewise, I am often in Istanbul and Adana. Adana is an especially good place to take refuge. My parents have a house there, which is perched on a headland, which stretches out into the Çukurova-Stausee. In Turkish, one would describe it as cennet gibi (Engl. like paradise – ed.). That is exactly it.

What does writing mean to you?

Writing is so much for me. It is a gesture, emancipation, and a way of thinking. When I write, I come across ideas that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Why are you writing pieces of theatre at the moment?

Writing pieces of theatre wasn’t a concrete goal which I strove to accomplish. Much more, I would say that I fell into it. But of course there are many reasons to write for theatre. When one sits in the theatre and finds the piece very good, it is almost like an epiphany. Also, in German theatre, one is much more active in the development and exploration of the medium and its boundaries than in film.  This, of course, shouldn’t be an argument not to make films.

How did the idea for the piece “Santa Monica” come about?

There are already many films about people who have cancer. Most of them concentrate on the dreaded aspect of it. No one who has cancer wants to be pitied. Cancer is the most widespread disease and yet, we have not concentrated enough on the part that isn’t consternation. Because sickness offers new perspectives on life. The closeness to death is not only sorrowful and painful; it is also varied and intense. It also brings up a lot of truth. This is the real reason for my work on this subject. In “Santa Monica,” the sickness is part of a quest of realisation.

What are you planning next? 

The premiere of my new documentary “Baba Evi” is at the beginning of April, at the “Dokumentarfilmwoche Hamburg.” At the same time, we are working on Martin Prinoth’s next documentary. I’m working as a script editor on this project. In September my new piece “Kalami Beach” will premier at the Nationaltheater Mannheim.

What do you love?

The Film “Die Verachtung“ (Engl. – “Contempt” -ed.), by Godard. The stilted dialogue between Bardot und Piccoli could also be the dialogue out of a piece by Ionescu. I like so much about this film. That Fritz Lang plays himself. The totally ridiculous naked scenes. The strangely painted statues of Greek gods. The film is actually a mess. But the colours, especially towards the end, the main actress and her pastel yellow robe. The rocked down Cinecitta, later Malaparte’s house on Capri. It is all so ridiculous and great at the same time. In my eyes, it’s an exhibition of style and themes. Great cinema!

What are you missing?

I’m missing more translations of Turkish literature. There are pioneers of course, like the Binooki-Verlag, but, unfortunately, these remain exceptions. In Turkey, there is a wide spectrum of German literature and a real appreciation for it. I am missing the two-sided exchange, because only a small part of the good Turkish literature has been translated into German thus far.

What do you still get excited about, besides writing?

Mesut Özil! He is an amazing soccer player. The man can’t speak any language correctly. He only speaks the language of soccer. I think this is very romantic.

 

What do you dream of?

I very rarely remember my dreams.

But we are certainly going to remember Akin and are already looking forward to his coming projects. “Santa Monica“ celebrated its premiere on March 31, 2016 in the Kölner Werkstatt Theatre and will continue playing in April and May. The exact dates can be found on the home page.
We wish all of the theatregoers a great time and Akim continued success.
Foto: Akın E. Şipal

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