Serra Yilmaz



(by Simone Perotti)

The Turks are not a people of the Mediterranean…”¬†Great start, and one which I was not expecting. I like it when one has to climb back to the top, and with Serra Yilmaz it would seem to be that way. She is in Florence now (editor’s note: the interview has been recorded on last January) because for the last fifteen years she has enjoyed outstanding success with her play, a success which seems never ending over the years. And she frowns, and perhaps even looks at us with suspicion. And afterwards we realise why.

I try to better explain to her what Progetto Mediterranea is all about, I try to make her understand who we are. Perhaps this helps her to relax. “I find everything I want in the Mediterranean. I love the Mediterranean, which for me is the area of the Aegean “.

I ask her what she meant to say initially: “The Turks are from Asia, they are introverts, dark, a melting-pot, great drinkers, a bit sad, and the Turkish language is a crossroads of Genoese, Venetian and Greek. Some Turks, many indeed, have never seen the sea. Those who live in the hinterland regions of Anatolia, for example.”

What is your relationship with Italy? “I got to know Italy through a French-Italian family. Through them, who I loved, and with whom I have always had an affectionate relationship since then, since I was eleven years old, I got to know Italy. My father was a movie critic, and I think that the cinema is the best way to understand the Mediterranean. There is so much Mediterranean in cinema, sometimes more than there is in real life.”

I ask her what she thinks of a common Mediterranean citizenship, a new common Mediterranean model to follow instead of the models of others. It seems to me that on this we are really are on the same wavelength, because Serra raises her eyebrows, agrees with me in full, and so we end up talking about politics. It was inevitable.

“The growth of Turkey is drugged by the building trade, which is destroying everything. There has been massive damage to the area. As well as the potential damage due to the progressive Islamization of a traditionally laic state, besides the danger to the Republic represented by a number of dangerous political positions.”

Do your intellectuals agree with you, are they doing anything? “Yes, they are doing something, but they are not shouting as they should be. There is a sort of very strong self-censorship, people do not get to the point where they are beaten, they stop first. Their cries, and voices choke in their throats. So many people are afraid of the consequences. Above all because the left wing has almost disappeared. The poor are fertile soil for this, as so often happens, and because they are needy they make no resistance to the filtering of extremist ideas and positions. There is a strong social tension…”

Serra is involved, one can see that she is speaking because she remembers, and not only because she comes to her own conclusions. She is a witness of a world. I would like to ask her so many things about Anatolia, but it is impossible, and understandably, to talk about something else. We listen to her while she explains that the economic situation is often at the root of problems that appear to be religious and political, problems that she has heard of and those that she has experienced. Then she has to go, and we say goodbye to her. We hope to meet her again.