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ASENA, Orhan

Playwright (b. 7 January 1922, Diyarbakır – d. 13 February 2001, Ankara). He attended the Diyarbakır High School (1939) and graduated from İstanbul University, Faculty of Medicine (1945). After working as a governmental doctor in different cities and provinces (1946-52), he became an expert of child diseases (1955). He worked as a doctor in Germany for eight years and later in Ankara.

His poems were published in the reviews Yaratış, İstanbul (1943-44), Varlık and Hisar (1952-56). Later on, he gave up poetry and focused on writing plays. His plays were staged many times at State and Municipal Theatres in Ankara and İstanbul. He ranked first at a competition held by the General Directorate of Press and Broadcasting in 1956 with his radio play Kocaoğlan (Kocaoğlan) and collected the Turkish Language Association Theatre Award in 1960 with Tanrılar ve İnsanlar (Gods and Men), first prize at the Arts Awards Competition held by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation in 1970 with Atçalı Kel Mehmet (Atçalı Kel Mehmet) and the third prize at the Karagöz Texts Competition held by the Ministry of Culture in 1964 with Hacivat Politikacı ve Karagöz Emekli (Hacivat the Politician and Karagöz the Pensioner). In 1973, he collected the İsmet Küntay Award. His play Şili’de Av (Hunt in Chile) was selected the play of the year in 1975 by the review Tiyatro 74. He collected the İsmet Küntay Award in 1980 with his play Ölü Kentin Nabzı (Pulse of the Dead City), the Avni Dilligil Theatre Award and İş Bank Grand Award for Theatre in 1983 with Ölümü Yaşamak / Ya Devlet Başa, Ya Kuzgun Leşe (Living the Death / Ya Devlet Başa, Ya Kuzgun Leşe (an adverb means that either the state or the chaos).

Famous for his plays on historical events, Orhan Asena was regarded as the Shakespeare of the Turkish theatre with his productiveness, themes and discourse of his plays. On the day he died his play Yıldız Yargılaması (Judging Stars) was being staged at the Bursa State Theatre.


POETRY: Masal (Fairy-Tale, 1941), Kıt Kanaat (Hand to Mouth, 1957), Kurtuluş Savaşı Destanı (Epic of the Independence War, 1995).

PLAY: Tanrılar ve İnsanlar / Gılgamış (Gods and Men/Gilgamesh, staged as an opera with music composition by Nüvit Kodallı, 1952; Gılgameş Operası (The Opera of Gilgamesh, published in 1968), Korku (Fear, 1956), Hürrem Sultan (Hürrem Sultan, 1960), Kocaoğlan (Kocaoğlan, 1962), Yalan (Lie, 1962), Gecenin Sonu (The End of the Night, one act, staged in 1962, published in 1964), Kapılar (Doors, was not staged, published in 1963), Mustafa (Mustafa, children’s play, 1963), Gecenin Sonu (The End of the Night, one act, 1964), Toroslardan Öteye (Beyond the Taurus, 1964; staged in 1968), Tohum ve Toprak / Alemdar Paşa (Seed and Soil/Alemdar Paşa, 1966), Hacivat Politikacı (Hacivat the Politician, 1964), Fadik Kız (Fadik Girl, 1966), Öç (Revenge, 1968), Korkunç Oyun (Horrible Play, 1968), Murtaza (Murtaza, staged in 1968), Simavnalı Şeyh Bedrettin (Şeyh Bedrettin from Simavna, 1969), Geçkin Kız (Old Girl, 1971), El Kapısı (Other People’s Home, 1972), 16 Mart 1920 (16 March 1920, 1974), Karagöz Emekli (Karagöz the Pensioner, 1974), Şili’de Av (Hunt in Chile, 1975), Ölü Kentin Nabzı (Pulse of the Dead City, 1978), Ya Devlet Başa Ya Kuzgun Leşe (Either the State Takes the Power or the Raven Takes the Carrion, 1978), Atçalı Kel Mehmed (Bald Mehmet from Atça, 1979), Yıldız Yargılaması (Judging Stars), Devlet ve İnsan (State and Man, in collaboration with Güngör Dilmen, 1990), Şili’de Av (Hunt in Chile), Bir Başkana Ağıt (Requiem for a President), Ölü Kentin Nabzı (Pulse of a Dead City, 1992), Ölümü Yaşamak (Living the Death, 1994), Ayla Öğretmen (Ayla the Teacher, 1994), Kurtuluş Savaşı Destanı (Epic of the Independence War, 1995), Hünkâr Bektaş Veli (Hünkâr Bektaş Veli*, musical, 1995), Yunus Emre (Yunus Emre, musical, 1995), Nazım Üçlemesi (Nazım Trilogy, 1995), Ana (Mother), Elkapısı (Other People’s Homes), İkili Yaşam (Dual Life, one act play), Tek Perdelikler: Kapılar, Öç, Korkunç Oyun (One Acts: Doors, Revenge, Horrible Play), Bir Kadın Üstüne Çeşitlemeler (Variations on a Woman).

CHILDREN’S PLAY: Mustafa (Mustafa, 1963), Ali (Ali, 1979), Dede-Torun (Grandfather-Grandson, 1993).

UNPUBLISHED PLAYS (with dates of staging): Bir Ölü Dolaşıyor (A Dead Man is Walking, 1945), Garipdede Çıkmazı (Dead-end of Garipdede, 1950), Büyük Curcuna (Grand Flamboyance, Karagöz Play), Karagöz Emekli, Hacivat Politikacı (Karagöz the Pensioner, Hacivat the Politician, 1964), Murtaza (Murtaza, 1966, from the novel with the same title by Orhan Kemal), Sığıntı (Refugee), Candan Can Koparmak (Taking Life out of Life), Ana Baba Günleri (Parent Days), Sağırlar Söğüşmesi (Swearing of the Dumb, 1967, published as Citizen A, Citizen B and Citizen C in the review Türk Dili), Dayım Evleniyor (My Uncle is Getting Married, written between the years 1964 and 1970, adapted from the novel with the title “Stepancikovo Village” by Dostoyevsky), Satrançtaki Şah (Shah in Chess; Kral Düşü- The King’s Dream, 1967), Kaçış (Runaway, 1969), Adamın Biri (A Man, 1971), Sıfırın Ötesi (Beyond Zero; Küçük Adamın Büyük Düşleri -Great Dreams of a Little Man, written in 1972), Ankara 1920 (Ankara 1920, 1973), Ak Kartalın Oğlu (Son of the White Eagle, 1974), İlk Yıllar (First Years; Roksolan, 1981), Seyisbaşı Konağı (Mansion of Seyisbaşı, 1981), Bir Ömrün Akşamında (In the Evening of a Life, 1993), Yalnız Tanrının Eli Titremez (It’s Only God’s Hands that do not Shake).

SCENARIO and LIBRETTO: Candan Can Koparmak (Taking Life out of Life, 1993), Nüvit Kodallı / Gılgameş (Nüvit Kodallı/Gilgamesh, dramatic opera, 4 acts; libretto by Orhan Asena, 1965), Nüvit Kodallı / Van Gogh (Nüvit Kodallı/Van Gogh, libretto by Orhan Asena), Bölümü Libretto Yayınları (Publications of Libretto Sections, ?).