An Interview with Actor Umut Çınar about “Büyük Zarifi Apartmanı”

26 March 2024
An Interview with Actor Umut Çınar about “Büyük Zarifi Apartmanı”

We came together for a pleasant conversation after the interview with Umut Çınar, who plays the young character Aslan in “Büyük Zarifi Apartmanı”, which brings together the stories of Greeks lived in Istanbul from past to present.

An Interview With Actor Umut Çınar About “Büyük Zarifi Apartmanı”

Büyük Zarifi Apartment is a building located on the corner of lively streets of Beyoğlu for 150 years. Today, those sitting in the tea shop next to it witness history peacefully among the flood of people involved in nightlife. It is not known how many of those who have settled on Istiklal Street are aware of it, but this apartment building is a historical building that has hosted countless guests since the reign of Abdulaziz. The apartment building built by the Zarifi family, one of the wealthy families of that times, continues to live today with the theater play it gave its name to.

Directed by İlyas Özçakır, who previously won an award for his role in the play “Collector”, “Büyük Zarifi Apartmanı” brings together the stories of Istanbul Greeks from past to present. While doing this, he takes advantage of every bit of the second floor of the apartment. It is sure to be a very touching work, with rembetiko songs from Çağdaş Ekin Şişman’s beautiful voice, Gafur Uzuner’s acting that we miss, comedian Pınar Fidan’s unique style, and Greek artist Rasmi Tsopela’s contribution that strengthens the bridge between cultures. “Büyük Zarifi Apartamanı” should be seen in this season without thinking about where you were born or your roots…

It is such a play that is completely identified with the place is “Büyük Zarifi Apartmanı”. It probably wouldn’t have the same impact if it were performed on a theater stage. What do you think about the contribution of the building to the play?

Yes, I think Zarifi Apartmanı is not only our game venue, but it is one of the players in our game. That’s why we have a very strong playmate on stage, and this puts us at ease. As for the audience, I can say that the audience is probably more likely to connect with the play thanks to Zarifi Apartmanı. It is very enjoyable to play with Zarifi Apartmanı in Zarifi Apartmanı.

This play differs from many others with its spatial experience, for example, there is no tour opportunity, and the number of spectators is limited because the space is narrow… Does such a “limitation” restrict you as an actor or does it create other opportunities?

This limitation is educational and entertaining for me. It was something I had never experienced before, but of course, every place has its own textures and nourishes you.

It’s a play where you stand very close to the audience. You notice the interaction very clearly. So far, what kind of reaction do you get?

I feel like we are creating a collective consciousness in the same room with the audience. As this sharing deepens, the audience may feel like they are involved in the event or like a silent witness to the event. Sometimes, while we are playing, we hear crying sounds or laughter as if it were coming from our friends chatting at the same table, it is a pleasant experience.

The play is based on Greeks lived in Istanbul. In this respect, how does it make you feel as an Ankara resident?

Even if I were not from Ankara, I would feel the same feelings. But of course, there were not many Greeks around us in Ankara. We were only feeling pain based on what we knew, but when I came to Istanbul and became more familiar with the Greeks of Istanbul thanks to this play, my sadness and pain became harsher and more intense.

An Interview With Actor Umut Çınar About “Büyük Zarifi Apartmanı”
Büyük Zarifi Apartmanı

Is there a goal to stage the game on the neighboring country?

I think there are such plans and wishes, but I’m not exactly sure, I don’t know when and how it might happen. Of course, if it happens, it will take time because serious preliminary preparation is required.

How did you develop identity for Aslan character. Do you have common characteristics with your role?

The first thing I had to do for the role of Aslan was to distance from myself. Our director İlyas Özçakır helped create Aslan’s identity through our conversations. I don’t know if we have anything in common… Maybe we’re both a little sensitive.

Your co-star in the play is a very experienced actor. How easy and difficult was it for you to play with Gafur Uzuner?

Gafur is an incredible person. He is a very talented, experienced and intelligent, but beyond that, he is a very well-intentioned and caring person. It is very comfortable to work with him and it is very instructive to benefit from his experiences.

While running away from an act, Aslan comes to Leander’s door. If Leandros had not opened the door, how would change Aslan’s fate?

Actually, I have no idea how his fate would change. He is also in a period of mourning, and I don’t know how he would get through it. But if Leandros had not opened the door, Aslan would have come with a different plan the next day.

Will we see you in other projects soon? Are you preparing for a new game?

Nowadays we are talking, let’s hope for the best.

Is there anyone in Umut Çınar’s profession that he idolizes?

There are actors that I like very much, but I can’t say that there is anyone specifically that I idolize. I’m trying to find my own style.