Critical actor’s play cancelled in Artvin

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Levent Üzümcü

A theater play of Levent Üzümcü, a thespian who is critical of the Turkish government, was cancelled by the Artvin Governor’s Office with no reason given, the T24 news website reported on Saturday.

The play, titled “This Is Your Story,” was scheduled to be staged in Artvin on Dec. 3 at the Nihat Gökyiğit Center of Çoruh University.

Recalling that his play was cancelled in Antalya as well, Üzümcü said on Twitter: “They are doing what they know best. They threaten people’s jobs.”

Underlining that his play was cancelled without any reason given, Üzümcü said: “A few years ago, governors, mayors and rectors used to come and watch my plays. But now they don’t allow theater stages to be used for plays.”

Apologizing to the people who planned to see the play, Üzümcü invited them to come and watch it in Trabzon or Rize — “If they allow us to play there.”

Üzümcü was dismissed from his post with the Istanbul Municipal Theaters after a case was filed against him with the company’s disciplinary committee in May 2015, supposedly over his prominent activism in the nationwide anti-government Gezi protests of 2013.

Üzümcü has also been critical of a widespread purge conducted by the government following a failed coup attempt on July 15. Üzümcü said in August that subsequent the state of emergency was being used as a tool against those in opposition to the government.

In other recent incidents of artists being suppressed in Turkey, pop singer Sıla Gençoğlu’s concerts were cancelled after the singer refused to attend a democracy rally held in Istanbul on Aug. 7 against the failed coup attempt, saying, “I am absolutely against the coup, but I prefer not to be at such a show.”

Talk show host Okan Bayülgen, who during an awards ceremony mocked a soap opera that was one of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s favorites, was fired last week from the TV station for which he was working.

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