Sinop “Commune-ication”

Sinop “Commune-ication”, 2006

Emre Koyuncuoğlu

workshop/ action-performance / documentary film and installation

Sinopale 1, “Thing”
curator: T. Melih Görgün


Project Leader: Emre Koyuncuoğlu-Tobias Hering

Place: Historical Sinop Prison/Sinop

Participants: Sevi Algan, Çiğdem Borucu, Handan Coşkun, Dilek Dervişoğlu, Hasan Elhakan, Murat Ertel,  Zafer Gecegörür, Tobias Hering, Mustafa Karabıyık, Emre Koyuncuoğlu, Su Güneş Mıhladız, Aris Nalcı, Senem Oluz,  Fulya Tekin, Can Tuğcuoğlu, Ata Ünal

Sinop “Commune-ication” / Dance-Film-Performance-Discussion, which is to be realised within the content of the first SINOPALE organised by Melih Görgün this year, is a collective “meeting on the way” work developed by theatre director Emre Koyuncuoğlu and free-lance author, producer and journalist Tobias Hering who has taken part in Berlin International Film Festival and “Globale Film Festival” also organized in Berlin. Its first stop is the historical prison in Sinop. Sinop known as the city of exile in the political history of the country, one of the cities where tides between reality and utopia are frequently experienced. The historical prison is like an “Inn” where many authors such as Sabahattin Ali, Kerim Korcan, Eşber Yağmurdereli have stayed for a period, sort of an obligatory rest place where they have continued with their creation.

The major source of inspiration in the preparation of the content and editing of Sinop “Commune-ication” / Dance-Film-Performance-Discussion, was the fiction-documentary film of Peter Watkins “La Commune– Paris 1871”, 375 minutes of original length. Watkins mainly concentrates on two notions in his film. The first one being, “Is revolution an utopia or a truth?”. Watkins is asking this question tackling on different aspects, by reediting an historical event on a set and by portraying through the characters he assigns on his actors, the utopias and encounters of the Parisians with the truths (who at that period had established a communal system lasting for two months). He is presenting the actors in front of the camera both as the characters of the act and as real persons.

He is showing the inner conflict the actor is experiencing with the character he is personating. Thereby, fiction and reality get mingled in each other in the film, just like utopia and truth. Watkins at the same time overlaps different periods of times. “The Commune of Paris” which was experienced in the Paris of 1871 with great enthusiasm and disappointment, is documented in the film by means of present day media tools. Cameramen and reporters are broadcasting the happenings “live” and instantly over the television. The broadcasts of different television channels continously remind us of the question; with whose reality we are “live” watching. The director thus, includes the media (which is dominating the current world politics) among the topics of top priority discussed in his film.

Sinop “Commune-ication” was prepared taking into account these two parallel discussion points. Considering this as a starting point, the location where the performance has found its reality and laid its foundation on firstly in our country, will be the “Historical Sinop Prison” depending on its historical background and symbolized features as a spot. (The performance is planned to be staged in various cities and localities considering other characteristics.) The performance; while lining up little pieces of performances where –different art disciplines are used together in different spaces – with the help of “actor-guide”s inside the place following a path, by using an interactive method is taking the audience on a journey in order to “unite in equality, freedom and peace” “to rediscover ways of communication” within this process. The performance will be recorded by an “actor-cameraman” together with the audience in order to be used for the following performances. Dancers, actors, musicians, moviemakers, designers, NGO employees, journalists will participate in the performance. In the forming of the text of the performance “Commune-ication” in Sinop, the sources referred to were: The research of Tolga Ersoy titled “the Inn of Sinop”, Eşber Yağmurdereli’s play named “the Scorpion”, the compilation “My dearest brother-Letters from the prison” by Aytekin Yılmaz and Sezai Sarıoğlu, Zena el-Khalil’s article with the title “Bairut Letter of an Artist” and mythical information on the Amazons in Sinop.

Within the frame of the fiction of the performance “Sinop Commune-ication”, you will observe certain parts of “La Commune- Paris 1871”. The translation of the parts used in the performance as subtitles were translated into Turkish by Fatoş Üstek, Rana Öztürk ve Murat Musulluoğlu.


PETER WATKİNS: Born in England in 1935, Peter Watkins emigrated in protest in 1967 after political quarrels over his early films with British television BBC and has never lived in Britain again. Today he lives in Lithuania. As a filmmaker he has developed a unique style, combining drama and documentary techniques to often stunningly “real” fictions. His films always tackle political issues like the threat of nuclear arms (The War Game, 1966, and The Journey, 1987), historic struggles of the oppressed (La Commune, 1999), totalitarian state power (Punishment Park, 1970) and the manipulative power of mass media (Privilege, 1967). The War Game earned him an Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 1966; nevertheless Peter Watkins is often referred to as “the most neglected major filmmaker at work today”.



1)Location: ENTRANCE

The Guide character who is leading the Museum tour makes a round inside the prison with the audience and narrates stories on the history of the prison museum.


“Hello, welcome, nice to see you.

In a while I will take you on,

“A fictional journey concerning the relationship between Revolution-Utopia-Reality. A journey both in time and place and mind as well. While the truths are rocking the cradles of our dreams, we will be travelling for miles and miles, crossing seas, overcoming castles, passing through seven skies, every nook and corner. We will move from truths to dreams, from dreams to thoughts, to life and then we will turn to see that we have only managed to move a little!…”

Calling out to the actors getting prepared in the cabin located at the entrance;

“Actor friends please come over here and join us.”

Just before starting with the walk;

“This is the spot where the time starts to cease, where it slows down. ”

The conversation continues while walking.

“This place was established by the Kashka (Gasgans) people living here in 2000 BC. It was enlargened and restored during the Greek, Pontus, Roman, Seljukian and Ottoman periods. In 1877 it was settled on this location surrounded by high castle walls. That is to say, all these empires, states and communities have contributed with at least one stone to this place where our utopias are resided…”

If a question should rise from the audience, it will be answered by the Guide character. The Guide leads the visitors to the dungeon section;

2)Location: Dungeon

Sound Design used in the space by: Çiğdem Borucu

“I am now inviting you to the first place where I want you to strip yourselves off from the lives you are leading, the place which will be the center of our joint dreams.”

The dungeon is entered. There is no light. A flashlight is held on the faces and movements of the people. The actors direct the people in the audience to touch the walls of the dungeon with their hands. There in the dark, they want them to feel without seeing and to understand by touching, the texture, coldness and moisture of the walls. (The place where the wetness and the smell of the wall is perceived. The spot of first encounter.) After staying for about two minutes there, the actors lead the audience out.

3) Location: Visitors Sections (Approximately 15 minutes)

Text: “Questioning of the relationship and sharing”

While passing from the dungeon to the Visitors section;

In this location, we have an outer and an inner castle wall made up of stones laid by each civilization. People also have their inner and outer castle walls. The ones who make up castles to protect themselves from the exterior, eventually result in putting up a wall inside themselves, they withdraw themselves. They hinder the fluidity of life, they prevent trespassing. We are exposed to a closure, a withdrawal. So how are we able to build relationships with one another under these circumstances? Are we really able to relate to each other? Are we at least able to share something with each other? How close are we to each other?

From the exit of the Visitors section to the Entrance door of the prison;

Isn’t closure, breaking the relationship, the fundamental requirement of exploitation?

Isn’t anyhow each kind of closure and confinement serving to exploitation at the end?


5) Location: Class (1st Section) Entrance

Text: The Inn of Exile-The city of Exile, Sinop

Video: 2nd part of the film “La Commune” (The rebellion of women to bourgeois state soldiers who arrived to take the cannonball and the soldiers -who have been the leaders of the revolution- surrendering their weapons – the joy of revolution)

While entering the class:

“Exile is no stranger to us in any period. In 1713 even the Crimean Khan was exiled to this place after all his posessions were taken away.”

“The riots and exile of the opposing in the İttihat and Terakki (Union and Progress) period of the Ottoman have reinforced our relation to exile culture and banishment.”

“To be against the dominant power, to be an opponent, to carry the utopia of another world, these are all reasons of exile. But are just people exiled? Thoughts, dreams, utopias also are exiled. Utopia, the utopia of revolution is fertile, that’s why it is exiled, repressed. And that’s why those who come to exile with the dreams of unfulfilled revolutions sometimes germinate fresh sprouts there themselves.”

“The actors we have seen shortly before, will now animate a revolution. Let’s see and remember, how did a revolution take place?”

The beginning of the projection of the film on blackboard. ı

Duration: 10 minutes

While exiting the class:

(A light in the watchman hut. – hesitate for amoment and look- calmly proceed.)

“Don’t underestimate it as just a struggle about a cannonball. Have you seen how the struggle about the cannonball has resulted?

Speaking about the cannonball struggle, I just recalled. In 1568 a merchantship stranded hereabout was plundered with a rebellion. In this rebellion, the peasents have acted together with Muslim theological students, the kngihts sent over to fight with the rebellions have refused to battle and didn’t war against Muslim theological students. In fact Muslim theological students have released the convicts. Therefore the knights have left a cannonball which they had brought with themselves here. Maybe all of you or at least most of you must have seen it. The cannonball located in the center of the city is that one actually. So it is a remembrance for us remaining from a rebellion.”

“Perhaps history is really a repetition of itself even though it takes place in different places and forms?”


7) Location: Exit from the door of the 1st Section and the lane leading to the 2nd Section.

Only the hands of Sevi are seen from the peek window on the right wall.

“In those years, the prison was a free source for labour force and those who resisted against this would be punished severely.”

The audience is allowed to see the hands. A moment of silence, then;

“That’s enough, we spent enough time fooling around here. Let’s go now and proceed with our tour.”

“Let’s not waste our time. Please exit from the 1st Section!”

The Guide slowly starts to overtake the role of the Prison guard and starts to get influenced by the stories he is telling and thinking that he is a part of that period, starts to act like it.


7) Location: Entrance to the wards in the 2nd section


“Here there were officers, soldiers, civil exiles of all classes, more than four hundred people convicted for various penalties belonging to all kinds of religion and sects. These convicts with an iron shackle on their ankles hardly visible, used to live in the town freely and exercise their art…”

“At the door of this ward, a Laz hodja was telling fortunes by drawing on the sand. Beside him, an Albanian Bektashi was sitting. He was busy grilling on a barbecue in front of him. Opposite to them a couple of Aynaroz Priests were standing. A little further there was a turbaned man. The poor guy was ritually cleansing himself with the water from a cruse. The hodja was surrounded by numerous Greek and Bulgarian bandits to his right and to his left. This ward full with all kinds of men from ambassadors to fishermen, bandits to mystics and savants was not very different from Noah’s Ark.”

“Evliya Çelebi says “When observed from Boztepe, this place looks like a ship”

Stands in front of the ship model placed in the middle of the courtyard.

“In those times the ration given to the convicts were insufficient in Sinop dungeons. There were no cats around anymore because we had eaten them all. A cat meant gold for us, sir… It was very precious, the main nourishment of a convict… Even a murder was committed because of cats. The ones who could not find a cat, would grass in the courtyard, sir.They would grass like cattles, just like the ones you know… Such a place it was, the Sinop dungeon.”

The dancers slipping through the audience with rapid movements, head towards the door in the middle which is the entrance to the prison wards. The Guide prevents the audience from following, keeps talking, etc.

“Here we are splitting into two. Please hurry up, men from here, women from here, please head inside… Hurry up.. hurry up…”