With a premier performance of Giden Tez Geri Dönmez (Those who leave do not easily return) on June 15, 1980, the Turkish Ensemble became the first Turkish theatre to appear in a major West German theatre. A collaboration among the Berlin Schaubühne theatre, major Turkish actors and directors (such as Şener Şen, Ayla Algan, and Tuncel Kurtiz), and local semi-professional Turkish theatre artists, the ensemble went on to stage fourteen plays over the next four seasons. This essay analyzes the early projects of the ensemble, including the Turkenprojekt (Turkish project), Giden Tez Geri Dönmez, and Keşanlı Ali Destanı (The ballad of Ali from Keshan), to show how the ensemble shifted from an attempt to develop a complex theatre dealing with the reality of migrants in West Germany to the performance of Turkish culture for German and Turkish audiences. The essay argues that the early days of the discourse of multiculturalism in West Germany held the potential for different aesthetic practices. It shows how "folkloric display" became a dominant mode of performance, following the wider discursive trend in public dialogue toward a strong multiculturalism, focused on cultural difference rather than the changes in culture in the encounter of migration. It argues for attentiveness to the multiple aesthetics that stem from multiculturalism.


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pp. 135-152
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