“Slave İbrahim Speaks Strangely” was on Stage

The play, Köle İbrahim Tuhaf Konuşuyor (Slave İbrahim Speaks Strangely), prepared by UİD-DER’s Worker Theater Group, brought worker and labor audiences together in European side of İstanbul on May 27th, in Sarıgazi on June 3rd, in Aydınlı on June 10th and in  Gebze district of Kocaeli on July 1st. The play which took great interest of audiences appeared as a result of enormous work lasting for months.

The play is about ancient Egypt, but in fact it criticizes today’s world. Slaves who are building pyramids for Pharaohs spell same words repeatedly: “Take stone, give stone, put stone!” A stone fell on the head of Slave İbrahim. From that moment, nothing will ever be the same as it was before. From now on İbrahim begins to speak in a different way. After İbrahim had a time travel to future, he came back to Pharaoh’s Egypt. While he talks about trade unions, insurance, job security, work accidents, rights, wages, strike and being a worker, his slave friends think that he has become insane and hence spoke strangely. From beginning to the end of the play, the word “strange” is brought up repeatedly not only by slaves but also by the Pharaoh himself. Slaves could not understand these new words which they heard for the first time and found them strange.

But İbrahim speaks about so beautiful things that it is impossible not to be impressed. The dream of İbrahim sways everyone including ordinary slaves like Yusuf and Musa who find those as strange at first, and also others like Mecnun who is known as a crazy man and speaks like İbrahim all along, and Wise Slave who is stubborn, experienced and farsighted. The dream sways even master slaves. Mecnun turns to audience and shouts out: “All crazy men of Egypt, unite!” While these words were responded by audience applause, Wise Slave comes to scene; she is also impressed by İbrahim. İbrahim unites Wise Slave’s farsighted theory and Mecnun’s action practice. Now, all slaves begin to speak strangely.

Pharaoh can not believe that slaves are revolting. The idea that the slaves do not want to live as slaves and they may revolt is absolutely strange for him. The order is eternal and will never be changed! Slavery is a faith! Slaves should obey their faith and should not revolt to end slavery! These are the ideas of Pharaoh and his clerics. But all slaves have already begun to speak strangely! Rebellious slaves speak out for their demand: “Everything under the blue sky and over the fruitful lands will be ours!” Exploding applause following these words echoed in theatre hall means that this idea reflects all workers’ aspiration today.

Clerics of the Pharaoh try to bewitch rebellious slaves but it is useless. Pharaoh himself cannot convince slaves by saying that “hostility to property is a crime”. At last, clerics realized the situation and warned Pharaoh: “Strike! These illiterate slaves found the most powerful weapon of all times!” Those slaves who were used to say “we don’t know to be at rest, we only know to work all day long” are now halting the production and revolting.

Once again, a stone fell on the head of İbrahim while he hurried up to find Pharaoh. And once again İbrahim becomes the old obedient slave. He said “Come on! Why are we at rest, let’s go back to work, master slave will soon come back”, Yusuf and Musa disappointed for İbrahim because of being obedient again. Bewildered, Musa and Yusuf ask each other: “Have we had a dream?” Whether it was a dream or not is decided by the audience.

When players come to stage to salute audience at the end of the play, applause continued several minutes.  When we were seeing the audience off they thanked us for inviting them. They expressed their wishes to be struck by a falling stone on their head too, by doing so they express their wish for being conscious and organized. General feelings of audience were that: “we wish that a stone must fall on the head of every worker”, “if workers unite, they can get rid of today’s Pharaohs”, “we are sad because a second stone fell on the head of İbrahim again”, “we are happy to come here, from now on we will always come to the plays of workers’ theater, it was amazing”, “how did you achieve this performance? Good for you!”, “this play must be staged in all workers’ districts and towns. All workers must watch it”, “it is great success that a workers’ theater is established by UİD-DER.”

UİD-DER Workers’ Theatre follows and develops on the tradition of workers’ theatre. Theatre activities continue in almost all branches of UİD-DER. All performances staged by UİD-DER Workers’ Theatre express sadness, happiness and struggle of workers, but not of bosses. It is said that the theatre is an art of telling about human to human by human. But UİD-DER Workers’ Theatre speaks in workers’ language. So we say: theatre by workers for workers in workers’ language. UİD-DER Workers’ Theatre Group consists of workers. Plays written by workers; played by workers, managed by workers, costumed by workers, and also sets, dance choreography and effects produced by workers etc.

All the plays staged by UİD-DER Workers’ Theatre aroused great interest and were received very well. The May Day Carnations was about the origin of the May Day. From Awakening To Insurgency was about the workers’ revolt of 15-16 June 1970 in Turkey. Death Haunts Shipyards was about fatalities in shipyards and work accidents. Unemployed Man is about unemployment and its psychological effects on workers. Besides, Thanks God We are Organized!, Thief and Bag, Shopping Monster, War for Peace, What Kind of a Play Should be Played for Workers were the other plays staged by UİD-DER Workers’ Theatre.

3 August 2012