“THANK GOD THAT I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN A PLAY THAT I HAVEN’T HAD FAITH IN IT. I HAVE ENJOYED THEM ALL; THEY HAVE ADDED COLOR TO MY ARTISTIC LIFE.”
The well-known actor of the Turkish theater who is recognized by his works that highlight our national and traditional values Ahmet Yenilmez is a real fighter as well. Despite he has lost his health, he has never given up the fight. For the last two years, he has been across the country to tell thousands of people about ‘Mehmet Akif Ersoy’ and his spirit that he has been portraying.
We have talked to Ahmet Yenilmez, who portrays successful characters on TV and draws attention to the show that he makes for TRT Turk, about the Turkish theater and art.
Your journey with Mehmet Akif Ersoy has been pleasant and compelling at the same time. Can you tell us about this journey?
I had a dream of playing Mehmet Akif. Uğur Uzunlar had written a beautiful play. We have played it from Edirne to Hakkâri. It was staged about 200 times. We have lost our health, but never given up.
I think that you encounter situations that give you hard time when you are performing your art. What was the reason that pushed you to choose the hard way when there were easier ways?
We live in the Anatolian geography where the first bloods of brothers were spilt. There should be a price to pay to perform arts in this land. Sometimes you cannot pay the price, sometimes you stumble and look for a hand to hold; somehow, you go on with it. Despite all the fight that I have given, I still consider myself as a person who couldn’t achieve to experience all of his desires. During a recent illness, I have realized that how much my body has been frayed. I had a 58 cm long open wound that couldn’t be stitched for a year and a half. I had to live with it. However, when you make a decision like that, you have to pay a big price, but you don’t have to explain it to anyone.
Do you think the traditional Turkish arts get the attention that they deserve?
Branches of arts have experienced a denial of heritage in this geography where the first works of art that inspired the world were found. The mother of visual arts is theater; it is music. The Germans assisted us to reorganize in these two fields. A Turkish Folk Music department didn’t exist in music academies until 1978. A traditional Turkish Theater department doesn’t exist in conservatoires that their number reaches to 27 countrywide.
Which one of the characters that you have played were you impressed by the most?
Thank God that I have never been in a play that I haven’t had faith in it. I have enjoyed them all, they have added color to my artistic life. However, playing as ‘Celal’ in Ekmek Teknesi was great. Not any player could pull off that role properly.
Do you find any similarities between Mehmet Akif and yourself?
I have noticed that we were both born on the same date (December 20.) When I look at our photographs, I find resemblances. I feel as if this is karma. Following Deli Yürek, I had an offer to play in Kurtlar Vadisi, but I refused it, because I thought that the character would be associated with me. Thank God that Ekmek Teknesi came to my rescue. You should arrange things accordingly. If you boil our profession down to the TV screen, you might lose yourself in that current. I didn’t feel that way. My actual profession is theatre.
Why didn’t we see you for a long time in the TV drama series sector?
I think, there is a caste system that dominates the sector. I am aware of that I am not going to be able to take part in the existing projects since I am not integrated with the system. My hands are already full with my own works.
Which ecole do you think you represent?
I see myself as the continuation of the traditional style. I try to combine the traditional style with the modern style. Tuncel Kurtiz was like our father who had also aimed this.