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Marx’ın Dönüşü (Marx in Soho) is a play written by Howard Zinn, directed and performed by Genco Erkal for Turkish audience. One of the remarkable notes of mine is about
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the use of visual material: I was surprised at first. It is innovative. When I arrived at the hall and saw the screen-like object on the stage, I realized that Genco Erkal would spell some kind of magic during his performance. The cooperation of drama and the visuals is handled well. Photographs, most of which belong to 19th century accompany the performance beautifully. Genco Erkal revives Marx from his ashes, and meanwhile the images support his performance. With his performance, Genco Erkal makes it clear that he is restaging the past and interpreting it for the present accordingly. In the meantime, the images enable the audience to stay within the limits of the performance’s historicity and reality. On the one hand, one is aware that there is a fiction going on. On the other hand, one is convinced that the fiction has its roots in reality. Eventually, one might conclude that a fiction, which not only refers to but is constructed on reality, is no fiction at all. However, pointing at this so called paradox would be a misinterpretation. And I am sure that both Marx and Erkal would certainly get upset with this misunderstanding. There is no paradox indeed; firstly, the stage performance is still fictional. Secondly, the stage performance is accompanied by the visuals, which once captured the actual traces of life and thus established an ontological bond between reality and the cinematic medium. All in all, I suggest, togetherness of acting and displaying visuals enable the audience to approach and comprehend the narration in two different ways; both by drama which converges to fiction, and by cinema which converges to reality. Eventually, the way in which audience perceives the story is structured upon two basic means that provide a narrative, first of which is fiction. Secondly, it is the reality most of which consists of memoirs and photos of events and people. In this regard, the togetherness of cinema and drama enhances the narrative which Genco Erkal performs on the stage. Moreover,
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The play includes two critical moments of censorship, one through the middle of the play and the other through the very end. Erkal was on the stage talking intensively about politics for approximately half an hour, until the visuals on the screen and the stage lights were interrupted by a power cut: “It seems to me that the capitalists don’t want me to talk anymore.” This interruption was nothing but a comic relief. It was clear that the audience, including me, was tired of a half hour talk on the socialist critique of capitalism, and we really needed that break for laugh. Need of laughter implies that there was a need to relieve the tension which is conveyed by the stage performance. However, the second intervention of censorship was not as much effective as the first one, because it was nothing but repetition. This time, however, the implementation of censorship didn’t intend to relieve the pressure but to signal that the play was coming to an end; Marx was anxious of this second capitalist censorship no matter how revolutionary he was. After all, he was just one of us,
he even once had a boil in his ass. In the beginning of the play,
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Marx talked about his objection against the ones who call him the leader of the Marxist movement. He rejects any kind of mystification of his personality. His main concern was about the conversion of his ideas into something mythical. He was upset because only Gandhi paid attention to him, in accordance to the way he wished to be. Stalin was not even a communist for Marx, because communism was nothing but to be free. He had a few fights with Bakunin, who was magnificently caricatured by Genco Erkal. And his wife, daughter, and family… Similar to the recent documentary screened in Turkey, Mustafa, in which Atatürk’s private life was portrayed, Marx’ın Dönüşü conveys an idea of Marx similar to Can Dündar documentary. Yes, he did, to the extent that, I repeat, Marx even once had a boil in his ass. On the other hand to be honest,
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in terms of political satire, the born again Marx didn’t pose any criticism of which I wasn’t aware. Nonetheless, the significance of his revival doesn’t stem from the possibility that Marx would visit the 21th century, revise “Das Kapital” and turn it into “Das Kapital: updated in 2009”; however, the particular message at the core of the narrative is that he was every time and everywhere present, although most of the people except for Gandhi didn’t care for him. He still believes in revolution and the international union of workers. After he witnesses every event happened in 20th century from his divine chamber above the skies, he is convinced that not only Das Kapital but also Communist Manifesto can yet function. Therefore, one would be mistaken to call Marx as a revived being. The play notifies that he was always present; which, on the other hand underlines that, in spite of the everlasting need of Marxist theory that Marx makes certain that it is still functional, he was omnipresent, but impotent.
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Well, thanks to Genco Erkal for this beautiful evening.
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http://www.marxinsoho.com/
http://www.dostlartiyatrosu.com/tiyatro_oyunlar_marx.html
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