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Prostitute’s role in Turkish play removed

The play ‘Cibali Karakolou’ was based on Henri Keroul and Albert Barre’s comedy ‘Une nuit de noce’

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A Turkish play to be staged in Istanbul has had the role of a prostitute removed, reigniting the debate on state intervention in art, according to local media reports.

The play “Cibali Karakolu” was based on Henri Keroul and Albert Barre’s comedy “Une nuit de noce” (French for “A Wedding Night”).

Director Nedim Saban, an outspoken critic of state interference in theater, told Turkish daily Radikal that the prostitutes’ script lines were cut from the play after the season premiere, leading the actress to leave over the incident.

The “censorship” of one of the play’s characters was a first, he added.

“It is true, I removed not one but two scenes and two songs,” City Theater General Art Director Erhan Yazıcıoğlu told Hurriyet Daily News, rejecting censorship claims.

“I don’t take orders from anyone. I am someone with a free soul and I make my own decisions. I only ask for a decision from my four advisers. I don’t take any other advice,” Yazıcıoğlu said.

“I did it after the audience complained during the premiere that the play was too long. People shared with me that they returned home late, the play was too long and that some of the scenes were boring. So I made a radical decision and told the director which scenes should be cut,” he added.

The same play was also the center of attention in the past for the removal of a line in the script that read “The Government is the one that robs!” The line was deemed “sensitive” in the aftermath of massive graft investigations into senior government officials and businessmen.

“We removed it as a precaution to not offend the audience. Otherwise it’s a script that has nothing to do with the Gezi protests or the Dec. 17 and Dec. 25 [graft investigations],” veteran actor Zihni Göktay said.

This is not the first time such allegations involving state-imposed censorship have been put forward. Earlier in October, a play based on the life of the German poet Johann Wolfgang con Goethe was delayed because of racy language such as “I want to sleep with you” and “I will moan like a rabbit.”