Muhsin Ertuğrul, founder of contemporary Turkish theater

Ertuğrul, who was the only film director in Turkey from 1922 to 1940, helped found the center, which started as Darülbedayi and later renamed the City Theaters.

Ertuğrul, film and theater director, actor, translator, was born on February 28, 1892 in Istanbul, the son of Hüseyin Hüsnü Bey, an officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Fatma Dilruh Hanım, of German origin.

Ertuğrul, who was educated at Istanbul’s Tefeyyüz School, Darüledep, Soğukçeşme and Toptaşı High School and Mercan High School, became interested in traditional stage performances such as meddah, Hacivat Karagöz and intermediate play.

While he was a high school student, the artist made various amateur plays with his classmates and in 1909 met professionally the character of “Bob”, which he interpreted in the play “Sherlock Holmes” of the Burhanettin Company in Erenköy in 1909.

He directed the Turkish theater
After working at the Odeon Theater, Ertuğrul took part in the plays “Othello” written by William Shakespeare and “Hamlet”, which were staged for the first time in Turkey.

The successful actor returned to Turkey in 1912 from France, where he went in 1911 to perfect himself, with the advice of his friend Vahram Papazyan, and created his own set with his friends.

Ertuğrul, who led the Turkish theater, returned to Paris in 1913 and had the opportunity to meet world famous theater companies while completing his studies.

Ertuğrul, who took private lessons from Paul Gravolet in Comédie Française in the same years, staged short plays before film screenings at the Ertuğrul Cinema, which he opened in Şehzadebaşı.

He filmed “Ways of Victory”, which is considered the first documentary on the Revolutionary War.
Muhsin Ertuğrul participated in the creation of the center, which was established in Istanbul in 1914 under the name Darülbedayi and later renamed City Theatres. The artist worked with Reşat Rıdvan Bey and Andre Antonie in Darülbedayi.

Ertuğrul, who founded the Istanbul Film company in Berlin, where he lived in 1918-1921, to pursue film and theater studies, also undertook the partnership and management of Ustat Film in the same period.

After playing a significant role in the film “Light in the Dark”, the main actor shot in the films “Samson”, “Black Tulip Festival” and “Devil Worshipers”. Founding a group called “Literary Theater Delegation” in 1917 during his days in Germany, the artist also staged Halit Fahri Ozansoy’s “Owl” during those years.

Muhsin Ertuğrul, who played the role of a revolutionary officer in the film “Duchess of Beranien” in Berlin, wrote various film reviews in “Temaşa Magazine” a few months after returning to Turkey.

Ertuğrul, who prepared the opera “Kenan Shepherds” composed by Vedi Sabar and wrote Halide Edip’s libretto at Robert College, directed the film “Victory Roads”, which is considered the first documentary about the War of Independence.

He shot the first Turkish sound film “In the streets of Istanbul”
Muhsin Ertuğrul had the opportunity to meet and work with many people from the world of cinema thanks to Nazim Hikmet in the Soviet Union, where he was in 1925-1927.

The artist, who shot the films “Tamilla”, “Spartacus” and “Five Minutes” here, also obtained permission to enter all Moscow theaters, met and participated in the works of such names as Stanislavsky , Nemirovich-Danchenko, Aleksandır Yakovlevich Tayrov , Vsevolod Meyerhold.

Ertuğrul traveled to the United States to conduct various film and theater research, and continued as artistic director of Darülbedayi, which he undertook in 1927, upon his return to Istanbul.

Ertuğrul, who shot the first Turkish film with the sound “Istanbul Streets” and “A Nation Wakes Up”, took the pseudonym of Mümtaz Osman as a screenwriter in the films “If my wife cheats on me”, “Söz Bir Allah One” , “Leblebici Horhor Ağa”, “Aysel Bataklı Damın Kızı”. He worked with Nazim Hikmet, who used

Ertuğrul, who was the only film director in Turkey from 1922 to 1940, pioneered the establishment of İpek Film, Turkey’s second largest production company, in 1928, and became a director at İpek Film after the film “Ankara Postası” had a great commercial success. He has made 20 films.

Ertuğrul was among the founders of the professional theater school in 1931. Joseph Marx, the director of the Academy of Music and Theater in Vienna, called to Istanbul in 1933, reorganized this school, which can be considered the pioneer of the Municipal Conservatory, and Muhsin Ertuğrul also gave lectures in this institution.

Holder of an honorary doctorate from Ege University
After studying children’s theater in Moscow, the artist began the first regular children’s plays in Turkey at the Istanbul City Theater in the 1935-1936 season. Ertuğrul was awarded the Goethe Medal in 1932 for his services to the theatre.

Ertuğrul, who also worked as a theater teacher at Ankara State Conservatory for some time, published a magazine titled “Perde” and “Sahne” with his wife Handan Ertuğrul in 1941.

Ertuğrul founded the Ankara Small Theater in 1947 and the Grand Theater in 1948 and was appointed General Director of State Theaters in 1949.

The artist, who was last seen on stage as an actor with his role as an inspector in the play “Bir Commissioner Came”, resigned as general manager of state theaters in 1950.

Ertuğrul shot “Halıcı Kız” in 1953, the first color film in Turkish cinema, and this film was Ertuğrul’s last cinematic work. Ertuğrul, who became general director of the state theater for the second time in 1954, opened the small theater and the chamber theater in 1955.

Ertuğrul, who was appointed chief director of the Istanbul City Theater in 1958, continued this function until 1966. Upon the opening of Üsküdar Theatre, Kadıköy Theater and Zeytinburnu Theaters during this period, Ertuğrul received the State Culture Gift for the first time in Turkey on October 23, 1971.

The master theater actor was appointed general artistic director of the city’s theaters in 1974 at the age of 82. In addition to theatre, Ertuğrul made 30 films, which are early examples of various genres in Turkish cinema.

Muhsin Ertuğrul, who won the first international prize for Turkish cinema at the “2nd Venice Film Festival” with his film “Leblebici Horhor Ağa”, put into practice the innovations of Western theater in interpretation, stage technique and management in Turkish theater and contributed to the spread of theater in cities outside Istanbul.

Muhsin Ertuğrul, who laid the foundations and developed contemporary Turkish theatre, received an honorary doctorate from Ege University on April 23, 1979. The artist died of a heart attack on April 29 in Izmir, where he had traveled to receive his title and attend the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of his artistic life. Ertuğrul’s body was buried in Zincirlikuyu Cemetery in Istanbul.


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