THEATRE ON THE RAILS


A proposal for an intervention on Istiklal Cadesi in Istanbul.

As Walter Benjamin once noted, cityscapes have become an archive of cultural memory and a space for action. Theatre buildings are no longer central to the issue of theatre and community, as now the performance has “spread to other spaces such as factories, warehouses, churches, and soccer stadiums”. “These performance sites raise a new critical issue: how can an architect transform a building into a scenography – a dynamic space that generates a narrative of performances – and how can a building stage a sense of community?” How can the city and the street be transformed into an a vernacular stage?

As for the creation of the community, I propose a locomotional transformation of the neighborhood of Beyoglu, specifically Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul, Could the dead space of the Emek Cinema be embodied through characters that roam the city and create new situations, new accidents, and at times disruptive performances. These characters are for the most part not actors, in the traditional sense of the word, but structural and mechanical agents that once were immobile infrastructural components of a site, which no longer exists.

Each one of these masks wanders through the city, and embeds itself into other dilapidated or contemporary structures, on the constant adventure to survive and challenge the daily rituals of Istanbul, and the city’s inhabitants and visitors. The history of the site is embedded within them, inherently, yet they are forced to now interact with everything outside of the black box, which is rapidly becoming redundant.

We are left with a theatre of participation, which forces the voyeur out of his privileged position of safety, to become an active agent, through the re-animation of the street, the subversion of institutional scripts, and a renewed awareness of gentrification.

Produced with Intermediate 12 at the AA School of Architecture.