Natural Disaster deals with the social storm that every woman is exposed to, sarcastic and powerful, and sometimes connects it to stand-up. With Nilperi Şahinkaya’s magnificent acting, we are witnessing once again how this unstoppable psychological and physical violence, which we all know closely, causes destruction, and what kind of struggle life is. You can find one more reason to struggle with life.
Natural Disaster, play by American writer Lauren Gunderson, in which she deals with domestic violence, promises a wonderful 75 minutes without interruption to the theater season with the amazing acting of Nilperi Şahinkaya under the direction of Ahmet İlker Ergin!
Let’s start with your acquaintance with the theater scene. The first game you watched; Do you remember how you felt at that moment?
My parents had taken me to an operetta at the Garnier Opera House. The ambiance on the stage, the decorations, the lights, the costumes, the songs and dances had a great impact, I felt that the stage was another world and everyone in that world was very happy and I wanted to live on the stage… (Laughs) I was 9 years old. That day I decided to become an actor.
What aspect of the scene impressed you?
The decor was sparkling and colorful all over, the costumes too, and I still like to wear costume-like outfits. There was enthusiasm in the actors, I used to think that in real life we should dance, sing and dress colorfully.
Let’s go back to today; How does it feel to be on stage?
A different excitement. I feel like I’m going to faint before I go on stage, my heart feels like going out for the first few minutes on stage. Theater is a creative process that takes place with the audience. You really feel the huge energy in front of you, even if the audience listens silently, you feel how you feel, it is a very interesting experience, like telepathy! An exchange like breathing begins and you keep a rhythm together. I feel like a translator when I play; I translate what I feel while playing to the audience. With the applause comes a great sense of relief.
Natural Disaster is the first single player game; In what way did this story attract you, with what emotional state did you find yourself in this project?
The transfer of such a heavy subject in such a sarcastic way was a slap in the face. I liked this one the most. I was very impressed by the sincere narrative that is far from agitation, by wiping out jokes, and that all the movements and lines came together like a storm at the end. When director İlker Ergin told me what kind of director he was thinking at the end of the play, I was completely convinced. His choice of the Monet painting in the back is also a nice part of the game: most of Monet’s paintings are unsettling, but nothing in sight. It’s a case of brushstrokes. So is the game; The audience understands from the beginning that something is wrong, but until the end, nothing is in sight! “This window tells you everything is fine outside, but it’s a lie, because bad weather is coming at full speed here.”
Can you tell us about your working process with İlker Ergin? In this kind of work, actor-director communication is undoubtedly the most critical element. What kind of preparation process did you go through?
Our minds with İlker matched from the very beginning. We always shared our ideas and generally agreed. He always gave me space in acting and did not interfere much. In fact, my high energy in acting was the basis of my desire to work with me. We worked by dividing the text. He worked meticulously, he designed my every move in his mind. We worked with Gizem Erdem for the motion design. Gizem’s contributions are huge. For the motion design, İlker roughly explained what he wanted in some scenes, and Gizem detailed it. I came to the 2nd rehearsal having memorized the entire text. At the 20th rehearsal, the game was over. In the remaining rehearsals, we processed the game down to the last detail. We broke many things and redesigned them. We have always adapted to each other, this is very important.
What part of the character you can empathize with?
Revolt against life. Life is really a game of chance and it’s not always fair. Although it is a bit of a pessimistic approach, disasters happen to us in life and we only have to get up again.
“Every woman creates her own ‘natural disaster’, life begins when we find the strength to prevent it.” can we say?
I think it is not possible to prevent the storm, “you cannot stop the storm”, but instead of getting up and continuing on somehow, sitting in the basement and waiting for the storm to come, the best thing we can do is “escape”. This question reminded me of my grandfather’s saying: “Happiness is finding the strength to fight life.”
Do you think the “dice metaphor” exists in every woman’s life?
Exactly! While rolling the dice, you try to calculate all the possibilities, sometimes you roll the dice for good luck, but no matter what, the outcome is not under your control. “At times like these, you can’t get help until it’s over, and if you ask for help, you’ll cause more people to get hurt.
” The reality of this sentence today was the part that hurt me the most in the game; When you look at it from this perspective, which sentences hurt you the most?
“This is how my life goes: I plan, I learn, and I get the job done. But I’m still here: in the middle of a natural disaster!” And “I told you all this because I just don’t want to be known as a victim.” These sentences remind us that all the women we look at and pass by actually have huge stories and dreams.
Why do “natural disasters” happen to us even though we do everything right and be decent people?
Because our life is spent repeating our childhood traumas. Everyone has their own natural disaster, all the storms that they ignored in their childhood are getting bigger and bigger.
What kind of phase is your acting going through; What would you like to say about where you are and your dreams?
Now I have a space where I can express myself more. I was always waiting for this, but that field was not given for a long time. Here, too, you are not in full control, unfortunately! You can tell as much as the role and scene given to you. Now I have this chance, I have a space and an audience that sees and listens to me, and I am very happy.
Photography: Cem Gültepe