Kurdish actor Erdal Ayna has been working in a construction job for the past couple of months due to lockdowns in Turkey. He could not even get paid for projects he was involved in due to the pandemic, since the cinemas were shut down and plays were canceled.
Passionate about acting, Ayna was upset for not being able to perform. He defines his relationship with theatre and his Kurdish identity as follows: “The theatre has always had an existential role in my life, shaping my identity and ideas to change the social reality I grew up in. Modern society makes individual realities disappear, and this has a socio-economic background in Turkish society.
“I was not accepted to a conservatory because of my ‘Kurdish’ accent. We begin our careers at a disadvantage because we never had the comfort to grow up with art, to have the proper art education. Therefore, acting is some kind of an awakening in our society, given our general poverty and the oppression we face. I believe theatre may be a way to get through the problems we face in our society and it can change the fate of society”.
Born in Diyarbakır to a family of nine children, Ayna’s parents worked as seasonal agricultural workers. He studied philosophy, sociology and psychology in college but never thought of doing other things. He only thought of acting.
Thirty-one-year old Ayna is on his way to Hollywood now. Ayna was the first person chosen from Turkey in auditions for a movie that will be shot at the end of this year. The film will focus on the various experiences of American rappers in Turkey. It is a United States-Turkey collaborative project and will be directed by Darryl D. Johnson.
Ayna, in Yeni Yaşam, described how he prepared for the auditions: “I went to the auditions but they were in English. My English is not perfect, but I just told myself that if I memorize everything, if I work hard at it, I can be chosen, and I was”.
“I experienced hard times during the pandemic, but I forced myself to start doing something again. I believe theatre has the power to change societies, which are separated from each other, which are alienated from each other but can come back together again through art. I believe in this and I am trying to show this with my work”.