Statement on Theater Madrasa

Last week, we have received alarming news on a sexual harassment case in one of our alumni organisations, Theater Madrasa in Izmir, Turkey where one of our Tandem Europe alumni Nesrin Uçarlar is a co-founder.

Her colleague and another co-founder of the madrasa Celal Mordeniz has been publicly accused of sexual harassment by a young female actor who has released a statement on social media, under the pseudonym Ayşe. In her statement, Ayşe explains that the harassment happened during an artistic workshop on the theatre premises, which Mordeniz now justifies as part of his methodology. As a result of this woman’s statement, Mordeniz has taken no responsibility and is currently remaining in his position as artistic director of the Madrasa and the Seyyar Sahne theatre company.

This public announcement has been heard and carefully listened to throughout the theatre and cultural sector in Turkey, with people and theatre companies stating publicly that they from now on distance themselves from Theater Madrasa. Because Mordeniz has decided to stay at Madrasa, Nesrin and another co-founder of the theatre, Erdem Şenocak declared that they terminated all their relations with the madrasa, as well as with the theatre company Seyyar Sahne which they also have been acting for few decades.

As Tandem, we are appalled by this news and we are standing in solidarity with Ayşe, as well as with our Tandem Europe alumni Nesrin and Erdem on their decision to leave the theatre. Not only do we support their action, but we also make the decision to no longer work with Theater Madrasa and Seyyar Sahne, and we will no longer include them as an alumni organisation in the Tandem Europe programme. Nesrin remains in our Tandem alumni network and we will continue to work with her individually, and in any new potential position, she will find herself in the future, with or without a new organisation.

We sadly see that similar stories exist throughout the cultural sector in different regions, and with this statement, we want to show our support to the survivors.
Tandem as a programme does not stand with people and spaces which exploit their power, authority and status to harass and abuse others.

The Tandem team