I met Ege at one of her improv workshops in Central Park last summer and she gave me a whole new perspective on theater! She made me realize that being a foreigner was not an obstacle to performing and improvising, that improv was not about trying to be funny and that there were techniques to make it work. She’s now directing her sixth play, Women of New York, and is performing in it next month in Manhattan. It is a great fundraising project supporting women, and you can be a part of it now, so go get your tickets right away (ticket info at the end)! But who better than Ege herself to tell us about it…
First of all, who are you, Ege Maltepe?!
I recently turned 33, I love growing older. I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey. I went to acting school in Ankara, (BA), then got a Fulbright scholarship and got accepted to the New Actors Workshop in NYC. A new page in my life opened. I attended Mike Nichols’ master classes for 3 years, got introduced to Spolin improvisation and method acting. I got the chance to meet people like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Stanley Tucci and hear their insight. I graduated in 2009 with a thesis project named Variations After Joe, and the process made me realize that I was more than an actor, I could write and direct as well.
I started a company called SPOLIN-IST; spreading Viola Spolin’s work. I worked in a school (New Actors Workshop) as an assistant teacher and stage manager. Became a Lab Artist at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in 2011 with my play TEA for 3. Wrote and performed a one woman show named TITS in 2013-14. Became a member of 4th U VDay, co-directed the Vagina Monologues with a cast of 40 women! Each time, I realized what the real meaning of theater was, touching people’s lives and hearts and minds. To me this is a social art form, not just entertainment. Theater can change one’s life.
I love love love New York. Now after almost 10 years, I grew a little weary of the city. But if I leave one day, I will definitely miss the ever moving stage picture of NYC.
Could you tell us about your play and what inspired you to write it?
Women of New York is a comedic play chronicling stories of women of NYC in the course of a week, right before a hurricane hits the city. While communicating the struggles and dilemmas of contemporary women, it takes quirky snapshots of NY moments.
I’ve been a part of 4th U Artivists, formerly 4th U VDay, for the last 6 years. Every year the work touched me in a different level; working with a large group of women was a little scary at first, now I love it! Creating theater can be a therapeutic experience, of course if a company functions well. And we have been. Making a real solid contribution to a greatly important cause through the thing I am in love with; it simply is a great match for someone like me who constantly seeks meaning in life.
We were a V-Day group, producing shows by Eve Ensler. Starting from this season we decided to become a new brand, working for the same cause, and came up with the idea of creating our own show. I wrote the play specifically for 4th U Artivists during this summer. The idea of sharing everyday stories of New York women is exciting to me. Every day I think of a new story, or I meet someone or witness something that inspires me, but obviously a play can only have so many pages. I feel like I could write about this forever!
Which organizations are you partnering with this year?
This season’s beneficiaries are Restore NYC, HerJustice and V-Day. Restore and HerJustice are local organizations, Eve Ensler’s organization V-Day’s efforts are global. You can read about them here: http://4thuartivists.com/beneficiaries/.
Could you explain your work as an “Artivist” and how it makes a difference?
I think the salvation of our generation is in the culture and arts. More precisely it lies in changing the culture that is run by the idea of “my ignorance is as good as your knowledge”. When you think about it, violence and intolerance are the major consequences of ignorance. In order to change that we need to communicate. Not educate but communicate. An artwork touches us on a personal level. An artist can have a direct communication with people from all social and economic classes. It just brings everyone together. Especially theater, it literally brings people together in one room. It’s the best form of art for communication; music, movement and words can all come together. And it’s right in front of your eyes, not on a screen. I believe that art can change you. And I love the idea of raising your voice through creative work. I feel like the reason for me taking space on this earth lies in projects like this.
One thing you couldn’t live without?
One quote on NYC…
If you see something, say something 🙂
One quote on women!
Stop fixing your bodies and start fixing the world! – Eve Ensler
Last but not least, one word that represents you?
More info on the play: www.womenofnewyorkplay.com
More info on 4th U Artivists: www.4thuartivists.com
More info on Ege: www.egemaltepe.com