“The Modern Daily Life” in Turkey in the 1950s in Popular Play Scripts of the State Theater

“The Modern Daily Life” in Turkey in the 1950s in Popular Play Scripts of the State Theater

Başak Akar (Ankara University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8491-9.ch009

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to examine how modern daily life is imagined and transmitted to the audience by the products of the popular culture in the 1950s through the repertory of the state theater and how this reflects the tendencies of the time. This study is based on the argument that the imagination of the modern daily life in the 1950s is not a simple continuation of the early republican period's way of defining the modern daily life on the basis of public life solely. Modern daily life in the 1950s is set both on the public life and the private life. Also, it relies on the adversity of the lifestyle, religion, emancipation, and universalism and civilization in the context of public life, complemented by the corruption of the family, the changing role of the man and the changing role of the woman.
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Introduction

This chapter will problematize the concept of modern daily life in the 1950s with the help of popular cultural products that reach the audience via the State Theater. While focusing upon the popular culture selection in the 1950s, it covers the perception of the modern daily life at the same time with an inevitable connection to the daily life and operates upon the repertory of the State Theater. Within this scope, this study argues that the imagination of the modern daily life differs from what Early Republican period. This difference relies on the understanding of the modern daily life through a critical lens of modernization of daily life. Early Republican period focuses on the building of the public sphere and a perception of one modern, which is basically Europe in the context of modern daily life. On the contrary, modern daily life in the 1950s deals with both sides with the dissatisfaction of the modern life, with the return of the longing for traditions.

The objective of this chapter is also to bring an interdisciplinary insight by presenting an intersection either to the daily life studies or the relationship between arts and politics. The main question of this study is: “How is the modern daily life in the 1950s in Turkey constructed by the help of the State Theater's popular plays?” The subsidiary questions are: “How is the modern daily life in Turkey constructed in public life in the State Theater's popular plays?” and “How is the modern daily life in Turkey constructed in private life in the State Theater's popular plays?”

One of the main reference books about the Turkish political life and popular culture in the 1950s is edited by Mete Kaan Kaynar (2016). The book elaborates upon the popular culture and daily life in the 1950s with the help of cinema (Özen, 2016), literature (Uçar, 2016), media and censor (Cantek, 2016; Dede, 2016; Esen, 2016) and popular music (Bengi, 2016). Only Aslı Uçar evaluates the involvement of the modern daily life through the literature of the given period. The studies that focus on the political and historical transformation of Turkey estimates the period for the reflections of popular culture on gender politics, secularism, globalization and nationalism (Çınar 2005, 2008, 2010). Akar (2017) focuses on the cultural transformation that reflected on national identity building. However, none handles the popular cultural aspect of the period, even though the 1950s were very efficient in popular culture (Kahraman, 2010).

The 1950s are known as a break off from the one-party regime, its ideology and finally the way modern daily life is perceived in the early Republican Era. Many studies cover various tools such as movies, comics with their relation to the popular culture. Less of the literature evaluates the relationship between popular culture and the modern daily life. None, on the other hand, searches for how the modern daily life is imagined in the 1950s in popular theater plays. Yet the popular theater plays are where the daily routine of the ordinary people are performed, with its relation to the work, entertainment, family relations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Popular Culture: Any unit, thing, material, or consumable that is liked, embraced by the public in a certain period of time.

Modern Daily Life: By the change in the perception of time and space with modernism, the way ones live their one-day changes. Daily life of a person adapts itself to the modern perception of time and space, while creating time for work, errants, as well as leisure and entertainment.

Private Life: Modernism draws borders of public life and private life automatically. Thereby modern daily life is complemented by its practices in private life, mainly by the family practices.

State Theater: The theatrical institution, supported by the state treasure, given an autonomous status unlike other governmental institutions in Turkey.

Popular Theater: Theater that does not aim at directing or educating the audience but entertains them, makes them think that they have so much in common with many people regarding their city life, helps them feel that they are up to date and a part of the latest trends.

Modern: An apprehension of a disengagement with the previous traditions, perceptions of time and space.

Public Life: Modern daily life takes place primarily in a space that is socially shared. Space is a used place in the public life; designed or emerged by the needs of the power relations.

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