How does it feel to be in Shakespeare’s company?
I would say that being lumped together with such an author for me is an honor, a sort of Nobel. It is very pleasant also to be put alongside the greatest men of the last century of theater. But the situation is worrying.
Has your work been banned in other countries?
I remember that in Spain, during Franco times, an entire theater company was imprisoned solely for having staged one of my comedies. We see now that Turkey has attacked the theater and culture, as has already happened in other countries, including ours of course. And to think that in the Turkish theaters have always represented many my plays, in even greater numbers than in other countries.
Even in Italy, on the subject of censorship, we never missed anything.
Both before and after the war, in our country censorship was always troubling to our authors. The Italian television, for example, after the one known story or “altercation” that forced me and Franca Rame to leave film for a long time, for several years not even a fragment of the material we had produced was aired. Those who are my age also remember that period when Italy — as Turkey has done now — had decided to ban authors and foreign intellectuals. It was fascism. I remember that the regime canceled a show based on Machiavelli, The Mandrake. Unbelievable: banning a work of the 16th century, Machiavelli, in Italy.
Is Turkey going in that direction?
Obviously, Turkey today is doing the same with the pretext of only encouraging the dissemination of works that represent the spirit of the country. I think it’s a sign of weakness; censorship is not good for the health of the government that applies it. Moreover, it is known that in Turkey, as in the past, unwelcome authors and intellectuals have been persecuted. I remember the dreadful “accident” that happened in 1993 in a hotel in Sivas, in Turkey, where some 30 intellectuals died by arson, including many writers and playwrights. It was a dramatic event that affected the whole world. Among them there were those who had already staged plays taken from some of my work.