Fisun Ardıç experienced the Marmara earthquake when she was 9. Some of her relatives were buried under the rubble. Ardıç is now 19 and has reflected on the effects the earthquake had on her through her work 'Deprem Oratoryosu' (The Earthquake Oratorio)
Fisun Ardıç was only 9 years old when she kissed her parents and went to sleep with her beloved doll.
A few hours past midnight, she awoke to a frightful shaking, screams and roars. She was terrified when her father opened the door of her room, grabbed her and escaped to the street. As the aftershocks continued, the Ardıç family faced the terrible truth: some of their close relatives were buried under the rubble.
The horrifying shakes that caused the death of thousands went down in history as the Marmara earthquake of Aug. 17, 1999.
Desperate wait among dust clouds
Ardıç, today a young woman of 19, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review about her experiences during the ensuing days in Adapazarı. “Great chaos and panic prevailed outside. I had managed to get my notebook and pen on the way out and I was trying to calm myself by writing,” she said. “Houses were still collapsing on one side, screams and shouts were merging together on the other. The noise of the houses being demolished was rasping in my ears; dust clouds were hurting my throat and I could not breath.”
That was the day, Ardıç said, she learned about desperation. “Despite all of the losses, I did not cry during those days. Every surviving acquaintance I saw gave me a childish joy,” she said. “I have felt the effects of the earthquake on me throughout the years.”
‘How can you account for pain?’
Ardıç’s life was never the same after the earthquake. “The emotional fluctuations I experienced had negative effects on my personal development,” she said. “The authorities have done damage-evaluation work on the buildings, formed crisis-management services and looked for the guilty parties after the earthquake. But I want to ask, how can they count all that loss and pain?”
The earthquake survivor believes that the necessary precautions are still not being taken despite all that happened, and that a greater loss of life may be experienced if an earthquake strikes Istanbul. “Our people are insensitive,” she said. “When it comes to experts and politicians, their approach to such a serious issue is extremely superficial.”
A script based on life
Ardıç, though, is determined to not stay silent and to do something in her own right. A professional dancer, she decided to share her experiences through the universal language of art. First, she wrote a script about the effects the earthquake had on her. She disliked what she wrote and tore it apart, only to write her thoughts down again. The result turned out to be “Deprem Oratoryosu” (The Earthquake Oratorio). Korhan Doğan from the Pi Alternative Art Workshop wrote the music for the piece.
“The expression of emotions were put on paper first, then words have been combined with notes,” said Ardıç. “I hear the notes of the oratorio crying; they are in terror. But there is one fact that I know: They will never lose their hope.”
Multi-dimensionality in abstract characters
The oratorio blending body movements, words and music consists of seven parts. There are nine musical compositions, four of them choral and the remaining five instrumental. Ardıç said there are 13 characters in the oratorio, adding: “I preferred the characters who experienced the earthquake firsthand to be abstract ones. Things that happened in the city are sometimes told by a dust speck or sometimes a hair on an old man’s beard, sometimes the city speaks for itself.”
Doğan said the differences of the characters and the abstraction brings a multidimensional view to the piece, supported by theatrical animation, music, dance and pictures.
The oratorio, with the slogan “Reach out your hand,” was staged at the city center of Adapazarı on the anniversary of the earthquake. The next staging will be in Istanbul at the Kadıköy Halk Eğitim Merkezi on Sept. 15. The oratorio will then embark on a national tour of cites at risk of earthquakes.