ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL NAMES AMONG THE WORLD OF TELEVISION, OKAN BAYÜLGEN APPEARS AS A ‘THEATRE DIRECTOR’ TO THE AUDIENCE THIS YEAR.
Okan Bayülgen who values the youth and is loved by them continues to appear on screens every saturday. Okan Bayülgen who influences people with his high energy takes great pleasure from spending time with his daughter Istanbul as his high-paced life continues. This season we got to know Okan Bayülgen’s director identity. By presenting the play ‘Entertaining Murders Company’ written by Selin Atasoy with a successful team, he invited viewers to an extraordinary and fun night. The play is a bit odd, when you sit around your table, you find yourself in a game. You become a witness to a murder committed during the 50th Anniversary dinner party of an important company and have to find the killer. If you wish, you may be a part of the play with the lines given to you alongside Burcu Kara, Kerem Atabeyoğlu, Almıla Uluer, Ayçin İnci, Emrah Kolukısa, Yücel Özeke, Sanem Özkürkçü, Tolgahan Ağgül, Nihal Usanmaz, Oğuzhan Günaydın and Metin Arslan. As the game progresses, you may find yourself talking with fervor to figure out who the murderer is and how to solve the case. We couldn’t find the murderer, but the tables that did received surprise gifts from Okan Bayülgen. You also have the chance to talk with Okan Bayülgen and the actors who accompanied you throughout the night with their pleasant presentation. The play that has been enjoyed by many will continue next season as well. So, we asked the things we were wondering to Okan Bayülgen while we were with him.
Where did the idea of creating the Entertaining Murders Company come from?
Selin Atasoy is an old friend of mine. When we used to come together about 10 years ago, we used to talk about theatre and crime theatre. Around the time, she had watched Murder Myster format at some places in London. I had heard of these productions many times before. These plays have almost become the tourist attractions of the British and some European capitals. The audience watches a murder mystery play in a restaurant and joins the play. Later, when we decided to do this, we called a professional from London to give our act the similar atmosphere. But it turned out that we gave so much money that his boss came instead. They were the people who perform these plays for establishments and tourists but especially for corporate companies. We didn’t like the sample scenarios that they brought and the way they worked.
Why didn’t you like them?
We told them that it would be below the intelligence level of our audience and that our audiences prefer drama and that they are crazy about television shows that our television sector tries interesting things on our audience and that our audiences look for higher quality productions. So we said, ‘we can’t do anything with these samples’ to them. Selin was already experienced in this area because of the show she wrote for television: ‘Kanıt’ (evidence.) The play entertains our audience, fills them with laughter as they search for the murderer. It creates a game like atmosphere between husbands and wives or friends going out for dinner. The play that brings the audience together is warm and has become the most civilized work of nightlife.
Do people come again?
Many of them do… So we change the murderer from time to time, because when you come consecutively the murderer is the same person. Because changing the murderer means changing this 4-act play, which means 15 days of rehearsal, so we don’t change the murderer often. But those who do come back don’t tell anyone who the murderer is.
Will there be a sequel?
Yes, there will be more plays. This format works in two fields. On Wednesdays, we offer the audiences a chance to watch suspense without getting bored while eating, drinking, listening to music, singing, and laughing in a comfortable environment like home.
How did you establish the staff?
We have formed the staff together with amateurs and professionals. We brought forth a synergy. Making a staff of 11 professionals is hard enough on its own. Also, artists are people with egos and they have all the right to be like this. This team that consists of amateurs and professionals have famous performers such as Burcu Kara and Ayçin Inci. We capture something strange with the other conservatory graduates, amateurs who have never had anything to do with theatre before, and by distributing some of the roles among the performers during the act. This ‘play within the play’ ambience makes the audience happy and is adapted by them quickly in such atmosphere, where no one shows off.
If we look back, when did you decide to be an actor and perform in theatre?
The only thing I cared about when I was studying Economic Sciences in France was to do things where I could express myself and could be excited about. My first target to materialize this was photography. But in between love stories, changing conditions, and ups and downs of being young, I found myself in Istanbul, entering the conservatory exams. I left the school I was attending in France. I entered two conservatory exams; passed both of them and then studied at Mimar Sinan. I did a master’s degree. Then I entered the State Theatre. This is how I became an actor. However, my appetite for different things was not satisfied. After that, careers in different sectors such as publishing, television, photography, cinema again, literature, and directing followed. This must be something about appetite I guess…
If you looked to your younger self in your twenties from this point, what would you tell to yourself?
A limited number of theatre audiences had known me then, the television audiences have to know me when I was 31. Now, I am 52 years old, it has been 21 years, a very long time… If I look to my younger self from today, I would say, ‘don’t waste any time’ because the things I want to do are not basic things and they require education first. Making music is possible by learning instruments, notes, and culture of this art. Same logic is valid for taking pictures, acting in theatre or in cinema and on television or in the show business. If you are split into as many pieces as I am and let yourself rest after doing many things one after another, you might come to your senses by the time you are 50 and look back and tell that young man: ‘Whatever you do, don’t waste time.’ People tire each other; people tire themselves the most with people, with hate, with love, with fights and commotion. There is no need for any of this. Just as Chekhov once said in one of his plays: ‘only working can save us.’