There are quite special private theater halls in addition to state theaters in Istanbul, which is the center of cultural activities in Turkey.
Private theaters perform the plays they fund by their means and I will provide information about some of the prominent and distinctive private theaters in Istanbul.
Best Private Theaters and Plays in Istanbul
You can find the best private theater halls of Istanbul in this article. I hope you will enjoy this piece, which also includes some of the popular plays performed recently.
The best private theaters in Istanbul are managed by experienced and prominent Turkish actors such as Haluk Bilginer, Genco Erkal, Sevket Coruh, and Emre Kinay.
1. Oyun Atolyesi
Oyun Atolyesi was founded by Zuhal Olcay and Haluk Bilginer on October 6, 1999, and the first play staged was Kvetch by Berkoff. We should also note that Oyun Atolyesi started meeting the audience as a touring theatre in the beginning.
After a 2 years long construction of a hall on Moda Street in 2020, Oyun Atolyesi performed its first play, Mindgame by Anthony Horowitz.
Oyun Atolyesi has performed a bunch of classical and contemporary plays by creating their productions and contributed immensely to the art of theater in Turkey.
As a nice gesture, Oyun Atolyesi also supports touring theatres by providing their halls and they also organize tours to Anatolia so that the audience outside Istanbul can enjoy these plays by Oyun Atolyesi.
Oyun Atolyesi is one of the most popular theater halls on the Asian side of Istanbul. Therefore, it is often very difficult to find tickets for their plays.
2. Moda Sahnesi
In 2013, Moda Sahnesi was converted from Moda Cinema Hall at Bahariye Street in Kadikoy and it welcomes the audience with one big and one small hall.
Moda Cinema Hall used to meet a big part of the need for cultural and art activities on the Asian side in the ’80s and ’90s. However, it needed heavy maintenance and was converted to a theatre hall named Moda Sahnesi by the voluntary efforts of actors/actresses and directors.
Moda Sahnesi is suitable for different types of plays thanks to its fine and high capacity sound system and a portable stage. Buyuk Salon has 800 audience capacity on foot and around 250 ones seated. This hall has a modular design and it houses such varied art activities as theater performances, concerts, and dance performances.
On the other hand, Studyo Sahne has 50 audience capacity. Here, workshops and conversation sessions are organized.
We should also note that it produces kids’ plays too. And, finally, Moda Sahnesi boasts also a movie hall that can accommodate 46 audiences.
3. Baba Sahne
Baba Sahne, formerly known as Ozel Kadikoy Tiyatrosu, was founded in 1967. It used to welcome many great actors and actresses. Then, it was redesigned as a movie theatre, arcade, and sports area.
The hall was purchased by Sevket Coruh on World Theater Day. Then, it was converted back to a theatre hall in 2 years and the original design was observed meanwhile.
Baba Sahne houses 2 foyer areas and a cafe. It’s also suitable for concerts thanks to its solid technical infrastructure.
In terms of plays performed, “Askölsün” and “Bir Baba Hamlet” are two award-winning plays worth mentioning. Baba Sahne also welcomes guest plays from time to time at its hall.
4. Duru Tiyatro
Duru Tiyatro was founded by Emre Kinay in 2005 and it was a repertory theater in the beginning. It performed Kara Sohbet in private theater halls during the 2005/2006 seasons and it restored A.F.L Cultural Center that was inactive for years in the 2006/2007 season and opened it finally.
Duru Tiyatro initiated ‘Maarif Kultur Merkezi’ project in 2007 and created a center of culture and art thanks to the effort of passionate art lovers.
Duru Tiyatro performed the first play named “Bana Bir Picasso Gerek” in its hall in 2008. It was awarded the “Best Play” in 8 categories and also awarded “the Best Play of the Year”. Right afterward, it performed such successful plays as “Kaset”, “Ask Her Yerde”, and “Sah Mat”.
5. Kadikoy Emek Tiyatrosu
Located at Hasanpasa in Kadikoy, Kadikoy Emek Tiyatrosu was founded by Pinar Yildirim in 2012. Kadikoy Emek Tiyatrosu boasts “Masal Circus” concept from head to toe, be it its foyer, backstage or its entrance.
Some of the plays that stand out here are “Babil”, “Kuskun Muzikal”, “Sevmekten Oldu Desinler”, and “Cadi Avi”, one of the recent plays that you can enjoy here.
6. Zorlu Center PSM
Zorlu Center PSM occupies a 55,000 sq. meters area and it can accommodate thousands of spectators in its halls. It hosts various activities such as concerts, theater or musical performances in its two halls. Additionally, PSM Amfi, Sky Lounge, Turkcell Platinum Sahnesi, and a foyer area welcomes its guests.
Zorlu Center PSM theater hall welcomes a lot of groups, such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, one of the groups that perform Shakespeare’s plays incredibly well.
7. Gonul Ulku & Gazanfer Ozcan Sahnesi
Gonul Ulku & Gazanfer Ozcan Sahnesi is located on a four-story Kozyatagi. It stages a variety of plays and it’s one of the most important theater halls on Asian side.
8. Ortaoyuncular Tiyatrosu
Ortaoyuncular Tiyatrosu, a.k.a Ses Tiyatrosu, served as a theatre hall for 87 years and a movie theater for another 17 years and bought by Ferhat Sensoy in 1989 to serve as a theater hall again.
It’s located in Halep Pasaji at Istiklal Street and big concerts are organized here, where famous singers perform.
Ortaoyuncular Tiyatrosu is one of the rare historical buildings with its velvet armchairs, embroidered ceilings, and elegant theatre boxes and it has a capacity of 521 people.
Ortaoyuncular Theater Hall is among the best theaters in Istanbul, thanks to the venerable theater actor Ferhan Sensoy.
9. Salon IKSV
In addition to organizing music and theatre performances by various artists, Salon IKSV also hosts various branches of art such as literature, panels, and workshops.
It’s located on the line that connects Galata and Sishane neighborhoods, where you can watch a play every Monday. Moreover, its portable stage system enables different types of performances.
10. Tiyatro Ikincikat
Tiyatro Ikincikat is especially popular among independent theater lovers and it was converted from an old studio into a theater hall in 2010. Plays at Tiyatro Ikincikat are performed at Black Box stage in Karakoy. Also, there are two separate units on the top floor where you can find a cafe and workshops.
Authentic plays and the existentialist adventures of the characters in them are portrayed as they are at Tiyatro Ikincikat, thus aiming to create a repertoire of local plays and changing the theatre perception of the audience in Turkey.
Ikincikat impressed theatre lovers with its play named “Ust Kattaki Terorist” adapted from Emrah Serbes’ short story. Some of the more recent plays worth mentioning by Tiyatro Ikincikat are “Tutsana Ellerimi”, “Akin Aslan”, and “Closer”.
Theater Ikincikat is on its way to become one of the best theaters in Istanbul, thanks to the interest of young art lovers.
11. Ali Pasa Han
Ali Pasa Han was built in 1712 and converted into a theatre hall by Genco Erkal. I especially recommend watching a play in the open air here.
The grand opening of the theatre hall was made with “Yasama Dair – Bursa Cezaevi’nden Mektuplar” in the memory of a famous Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet on his 50th death anniversary.
After the successful performance of “Yasama Dair – Bursa Cezaevi’nden Mektuplar” by Genco Erkal and Tulay Gunay, a play named “Insanlarim”, a solo performance by Genco Erkal, began to be performed.
12. Bo Sahne
Bo Sahne began its life with a play named ‘ADOLF’ at Cihangir. It was founded by Nilufer Biyikli and Levent Ozdilek and besides Tiyatro ve Konser Salonu (Theater and Concert Hall) that has a capacity of 150 people, it also houses a 100 sq. meters dance hall.
Here, some contemporary plays such as “Internette Tanisan Son Cift” and “Bekarliga Veda” are performed. Furthermore, several other plays for kids are also performed here.
13. Kenter Tiyatrosu
Kenter Tiyatrosu was founded by Yildiz Kenter, Muslim Kenter, and Sukran Gungor and it performed the plays of Kent Oyunculari for years. It’s housed important plays as well as functioning as a theater school and it faced a danger of closure at some point in its history.
However, it began to welcome theatre lovers after Dostlar Tiyatrosu at Beyoglu, founded by Genco Erkal, shut down and joined Kenter Tiyatrosu. Nowadays, you can watch a play named “Gunesin Sofrasinda – Nazim ile Brecht”, adapted and directed by Genco Erkal, at Kenter Tiyatrosu.
14. Tatbikat Sahnesi
Tatbikat Sahnesi, a.k.a Devlet Devlet Konservatuvari (State Conservatory), used to be a theater group that played an important role in bringing the contemporary theater concept to Turkey. It was founded as a sub-unit of Devlet Devlet Konservatuvari, but it was shut down after Devlet Tiyatrolari (Turkish State Theaters) was founded.
Forming the basis of Devlet Tiyatrolari, Tatbikat Sahnesi performed its first plays under Carl Ebert’s supervision, later to be managed by Muhsin Ertugrul. Tatbikat Sahnesi was a pioneer in introducing contemporary theatre to theatre lovers in Ankara. However, its aim when it was reopened was to develop the appreciation of quality art.
Erdal Besikcioglu, a retiree from Devlet Tiyatrolari, and his wife Elvin Besikcioglu, who is also an artist, reopened Tatbikat Sahnesi in 2013 and they performed 14 successful plays.
Later, Tatbikat Sahnesi became an education center in Ankara and its plays are still performed here. The plays by Tatbikat Sahnesi used to be performed at Istanbul in Etiler for a while and it meets theatre lovers both in Istanbul and various cities all around Turkey.
If you want to participate in art events in Istanbul, our article on the best movie theaters in Istanbul may also interest you.
Best Private Theaters and Plays in Istanbul by Serhat Engul