Selen Uçer gives life to countless women who come out of the heart of everyday life both in cinema, on-screen and in the theatre stage in such a realistic but nonetheless talismanic way that it is without a doubt magic! J. K. Rowling has a saying: “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better. “Thanks to this power, she embodies 11 different characters in just 80 minutes in the play “Güle Güle Diva!”, staged in DasDas. What else could that be other than magic? We leave ourselves to the charm of Selen, who has just returned from the Golden Orange Film Festival. with the ‘Best Actress’ award at hand.
With your play, “Güle Güle Diva!” at DasDas, you are embodying countless women in just 80 minutes. What does each of these women leave you as soon as you hear the applause?
“Güle Güle Diva!” is originally Günceli’s story. Günseli, who lives in Sefaeli, is married and has children, works as a secretary for a dentist, loves to read and tell, is extrajudicial, peaceful, farceur and the fan of the diva’s songs like every Sefaeli woman. Then there are 6 women she runs into in the hospital and a few figurative women. A total of 11, I think. Every time I finish the play, it’s like finishing a journey, feels like arriving at a harbour. Like a content sailor who travels to new places every time. I am having a transaction, a sharing with the people that come to the theatre. This feeling is valid for every play but “Güle Güle Diva”s realism affects all of us in a different way. Like the audience, even I forget that I am performing solo. I guess this is also a special, lucky situation. ‘Güle Güle Diva’, is a very candid play that came out of a very not so bright period of our lives, because of both my family health problems and her own health problem, where we practised at random places for a year and a half. In the play, there is a quote from Arabian Nights: “Mastery of the narrative was born out of the fear of death.”. It is perhaps the main theme of ‘Güle Güle Diva!’ It came into life as a solo show before the “one-women band” trend, because there was no one around us. Firuze has a very real and wonderful writing, this year we have shortened and renewed the play. We are moving on with excitement.
You’re both a writer, a director and an actor. What motivates and inspires you for these three disciplines?
I’m an actor. I am writing as an actor. I ‘m only directing actor-based plays. Each discipline has separate rules, processes. I think the essence of all of them lies in story-telling and those things feed each other. But I know my place, acting is my main profession at which I am focusing and getting deeper. Life is what feeds all these stories! Relationships, the realities of the geography you live in, pop culture of the period, your own history and, on top of that, daily routines; basically everything…
“Being a woman in this industry” is perhaps the most common half of the sentence which we hear so often. How do you finish that sentence? Aside from the element of violence against women, why are we so stuck in the definitions of being a woman in terms of the profession?
Being a woman in this industry is a little more difficult than being a woman in other industries. Because you are your material. Acting is a profession that was delayed in finding its value and place. It took time to be understood. It was even late to be considered as a profession. I think there is violence against both men and women, both spiritually and physically. But because of this violence, girls, women are losing their lives, their social and economic existence is constrained, that’s why talking about violence on women is a priority. But the problem is much more long-term, how do these ‘sick’ violent individuals form a society, education, family structure? This is a problem that is all over the world, but I think that the situation is urgent in our country now with the years of false accumulation and teachings.
Recently, you have won the ‘Best Actress’ award in Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival with Ümit Ünal’s latest film ‘Love, Magic, Etc.’. Lately, there has been a continuous debate about film festivals in Turkey, we even criticize foreign achievements. Where does “winning awards” stand for you?
Unfortunately… Sometimes, people in Turkey don’t even know how to congratulate awards. A person who will freak out when they won any award is starting to point out negativity when someone wins anything. Particularly, our country’s festivals are not undisputed, yes, there can be quite justified reasons for it, yes, but to see the positive aspects, to make constructive criticism should be aimed to take it further. Who benefited from devaluating anything ever? Even an award from an international organization which has been held for almost 40 years is being denigrated instead of being proud of. I guess this is people’s self-sabotage psychology, I don’t know. Yet, we should support progress, what’s new and focus on future potentials. When it comes to my stand on awards, it is, of course, a pleasure. You’re being honoured. Especially the Golden Orange, the most established festival in this country. It is a great excitement and motivation for every actor. But the experience I have gained from the times I have received or did not receive awards is what really matters is what you do with that situation. To get an award is to thank life and continue working with all you got… This is what I believe at least.
Acting is a profession that was delayed in finding its value and place. It took time to be understood.
About “Love, Magic, Etc”, how do you define the bond between love and magic? What would you say if I asked you to fill in that “etc.” part?
Love is a way of believing in magic. “Etc” is a person’s dreams, facts, outside life, people and situations, what people do to themselves and others. I think you should watch the movie and decide for yourself.
We moved from complaining about the ticket prices to everyone doing theatre. What is about this constant murmur about theatre?
I think it is good that the theatre has increased in one way or another, even though there are complains. In different genres, in different expressions, no matter how. But if the quality decreases, the audience will be lost, so I ask for it, knowing its responsibility.
Do you feel lucky when we put all the labels, prejudices, chaotic rushes aside?
Yeah, I think I’m lucky. I’ve paid a lot to get this chance, I know the value of my loved ones, my choices, my family and the life I created.
As an actor, what is the most pleasant aspect of “creating” for you?
Crews, processes; they are the ones that teach you, take your perception of life to another level. You are filling your intellectual baggage and moving on, some are lost, some stays. What has to happen, happens. The stories remain, they reach out to others, and that is what’s amazing about it.
If we look at Istanbul from your perspective, how do you define “being Selen Uçer in Istanbul”?
I grew up in Gayrettepe-Karaköy-Galata-Beyoğlu, then I went to school in Rumeli Hisarüstü, the most beautiful places in the city. I’ve become myself in this city. I have always loved Istanbul. I loved it with its filth, its chaos, I’ve witnessed the pollution of its history, yet like our generation, I loved it still. My friends get mad at me because of that. It is what it is, that’s what we got. But if you say magic, we got it in this city.
I can’t say anything in the long term, but ‘Güle Güle Diva!’ is at DasDas on.
Interview by Cansu Uras
Photography by Burcu Karademir