The Girl Conducting the Choir – like no one is watching!

I was so glad that this video of a little girl from Kyrgyzstan went viral couple months ago. Not only because she is the cutest thing in the world with her blue dress and her pink cheeks, but she is showing us something that we all missed in our grown up world. The little girl, Lara, is conducting a choir with so much passion and freedom; a perfect example for creative expression.
So, what is creative expression, or creative experience? And how do we get there? Well, that is the question… Viola Spolin explains it through stepping into our intuition “My vision is a world of accessible intuition” she says and adds;

“The intuitive can only respond in immediacy – right now. It comes bearing its gifts in the moment of spontaneity, the moment when we are freed to relate and act, involving ourselves in the moving, changing world around us.”

And she adds…

“Through spontaneity we’re reformed into ourselves. It creates an explosion that for the moment frees us from handed-down frames of reference, memory choked with old facts and information and undigested theories and techniques of other people’s findings. Spontaneity is the moment of personal freedom when we are faced with a reality and see it, explore it and act accordingly. In this reality the bits and pieces of ourselves function as an organic whole. It is the time of discovery, of experiencing, of creative expression.”

Spolin improvisation is after creating those spontaneous moments over and over again in the acting training. But to me her work is so much more than just an acting technique, it almost teaches us how to be a human being again. It makes us go back to beginning, where we all used to feel like Lara; conduct the chorus, conduct our life like no one was watching!
If your train of thought keeps traveling like mine does and you say; “So what’s wrong with us, what happens when other people are watching?” You need to read “Approval/Disapproval Syndrome” in Spolin’s book “Improvisation For The Theater” 🙂
My thoughts are traveling even further back to the existentialist philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre who, in his play “No Exit” said; “L’Enfer, c’est les autres”;“Hell is other people”   Maybe it’s time to produce it in our theatrical matinees in Caffe Vivaldi!
Oh, but before getting more philosophical, here’s Lara conducting a chorus. She’s a delight… Enjoy!

A series of Spolin Improvisation classes will open in May. Let’s look for those moments of creative expression together!
More info:


Let's play!

My friends and students are already used to this; I’m always talking about my niece! Defne is almost two years old now,


and the pace of her learning amazes me! Every other day there’s a new song she’s singing in half gibberish half Turkish, or a new game, a new how-to… We skype couple times a week, and her mother feeds me with videos and photos, “feed” is the only correct term to describe it really, because I devour those images. And God bless Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger !
Anyway, my new year’s resolution is not to have a baby of my own, not yet. But the resolution is coming from Defne; her hunger to learn, discover and PLAY and have FUN! She starts the day at 7.30am, and the first thing she says is “Down”, she means let’s get out of the bed and start the day! From that moment on game playing starts, with her dolls, toys, with anything she finds, we paint and draw (her recent discovery is “Murals are cool”:), till she takes a nap, with her aunt’s words “She’s charging herself” . After the nap, the game is on!
This makes me think, I’m a thinker but you already know that, a human being in relatively “normal” conditions, spends her/his whole time “playing”, till the age of 10, even older.
"Where am I?" Defne
“Where am I?” Defne

At least 10 years spent with the hunger to discover and play. Then, usually the things we are “supposed to do” ruin all the fun and most of us become uninterested in learning something new.
Most of us lose the sense of game playing, or we need some alcohol to loosen up first before starting a fun evening… How can we lose something that is so deeply in our core since the day we’re born? Because that’s something built in our system; we are curious and playful creatures! Where does it hide?
I met with Spolin improvisation as an actor in 2007. I was lucky enough to go the acting school founded by Mike Nichols, George Morrison and Viola Spolin’s son Paul Sills.
2013:10 OYUN GUNU - 4
Spolin Workshop – Istanbul

I was amazed by this technique. It was simple and deep at the same time, and most definitely it was lots of fun! All of the classes were like parties in which we got to be silly, and free as if we were kids. I found this so important because most of my acting training till then was very “serious”. In 2009, I decided to bring this work to my home country and founded SPOLIN-IST. Now we have an expanding group of Spolin players, who constantly ask me when will be our next workshop:)
Spolin Books
Spolin Books

Viola Spolin, the grandmother of improvisation, touches us deep inside. She takes us to a place that’s so familiar to us that it is incredibly scary. Because it is scary to be your true self. But once you get there, you get addicted to it!
Here’s my new year’s resolution – finally!- I decided to increase the number of Theater Games addicts in New York City! A very affordable weekly workshop is gathering a diverse group of players. Join us, let’s go back to beginning!

Our story on NY Press!

As Emir and I are getting ready for our next performances (Dec. 7-8th 3pm). It was nice to see our story (as a celebrity couple:) and the story of DRAMA in BEETHOVEN on NY PRESS. We hope to bring more music and laughter around the town. Shoot us an email to to receive notices of the upcoming shows and classes.

Striking a Chord with the Younger Generation

Classical music can really bring out the creativity in a couple. Ege Maltepe, an actress from Istanbul, and her husband Emir Gamsizoglu, a Turkish pianist, decided to move to New York City to pursue their artistic aspirations. They credit Gamsizoglu’s constant playing of classical music in their Upper West Side apartment as one of the reasons they created Drama in Beethoven, which they are performing this winter at Caffé Vivaldi in the West Village.

Click HERE to read the rest of the story.


In-Yer-Face with Beethoven!

photo 1I consider myself as a very lucky person, because I’m married to a classical musician whose work involves some of the greatest artists in the history of human kind. Often I get to hang out with people like Chopin, Bach, and Rachmaninoff. Everyday I’m witnessing how music, as one of the most abstract art form, can become the spokesperson of your emotions. Unfortunately I don’t play any instrument ( “Yet!” yells my former acting teacher George Morrison who often speaks to me in my head) but I’m a devoted listener of classical music since the day I met Emir.
Nowadays we are getting ready to perform our show DRAMA IN BEETHOVEN in New York City. This is a project that we’ve developing since 2009.

So ladies and gentlemen, Ludwig is in da house!

Ludwig Van Beethoven
Ludwig Van Beethoven

Reading about Beethoven’s life, his truthfulness, stubbornness and the way he directly speaks his mind, makes me think, “This guy had balls!”, and sometimes I wish I could be like him, even though he had a lonely life full of dysfunctional relationships. But then I think maybe some people has to suffer in order to create masterpieces like Hammerklavier.
The truthfulness, passion and consistency in Beethoven’s music, to me is incomparable even when I consider the other greatest composers (Here,  Emir would argue with me and tell me about the intelligence behind Bach’s Preludes-Fugues, ok I get it!). But to me Beethoven is unique, because when I listen to his pieces I feel like he just speaks to my face, holding me from my shoulders so I don’t run away. He speaks his thoughts, his anger, his love, his victories and losses… and he doesn’t let me go, he wants me to hear and understand every word! And he’s damn honest!
In DRAMA IN BEETHOVEN we conduct an experiment to give an option to the listener while listening to classical music, we link Beethoven’s music to stories. For example an important part of the performance is about the relationship between Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata, in that part I get to blush with excitement since two greatest artists are in the room together.
Come, join us and see me blush in West Village’s best music cafe, so Beethoven can talk to your face!
January 25th 6pm January 26th 4pm, at 32 Jones Street, 10014
Read our interview on Manhattan’s West Side Spirit (NY PRESS)

Beethoven is back! This time with stories…

2013_11_08-DRAMAinBEETHOVEN-Poster.001 Once upon a time there was a short German guy with a bad temper and a huge spirit and passion for music. His name was Ludwig.
Drama in Beethoven is a fun experiment to connect stories with Beethoven Sonatas. Developed as a CLASSICAL 4 ALL project, the show aims to create a direct and unique connection between listener and the classical music. “Music is just music! We are the ones who are labeling it with fancy halls and dress codes says Ege Maltepe, an actress, playwright and a former student of Mike Nichols, right before diving into a bloody scenario along with the 2nd movement Sonata No.7.
Emir Gamsızoğlu is a unique type of virtuoso, who started to play the piano at the age of 20, after quitting his career as a basketball player. He suggests using the help of stories about music and also making up your own stories on the pieces you listen or play. “I have my own relationship with music by visualizing stories or creating dialogues while I play. I ended up having scenarios that go along with pieces” This technique gives depth and color to Gamsızoğlu’s interpretation, but it’s also a great way to connect with classical music as a listener.
“I think it opens a door in your imagination, you become a child again! It sets your imagination free of labels, and through that freedom you can have a direct relationship with music. This is a paradox; we give classical music such an importance, which is great, but eventually it becomes so “important” that people think they won’t understand classical music, because it’s complex. There is nothing to not to understand and they just miss an amazing legacy!” adds Maltepe, happy to be developing this project since 2010.
Learn about how Beethoven is related to Shakespeare and how his love to Countess Guicciardi influenced him to compose the Moonlight Sonata and how can a musician creates his own stories through music.
Music plants stories, stories grow with music. Get ready to create your own story with Herr Ludwig !
November 23rd – 24th, 3pm (Saturday-Sunday)
December 7th – 8th, 3pm (Saturday-Sunday)
Caffe Vivaldi, 32 Jones Street 10014
Call 212-691-7538 for reservations
Suggested donation $20

Fall started with Spolin-ist / Spolin-ist'le sonbahar!

I spent my september and early October in Turkey teaching and playing Spolin games. Happy to be spreading the work of this genius woman, I had the chance to travel outside of Istanbul and play in İzmir. Here are some snapshots from SPOLIN-IST.
Eylül ve Ekim ayında Türkiye’deydim. Kurucusu olduğum SPOLIN-IST ile Spolin oyunları öğretip oynadım. Bu dahi kadının yarattığı tekniği yaymaktan memnun olarak, İzmir’e de gitme şansım oldu. İşte SPOLIN-IST’in sonbaharından kareler:

Spolin Tekniği Eğitim Filmi

New York’ta çektiğimiz eğitim filmi, Spolin doğaçlamasının yaratılış süreci ve oyuncu, yönetmen ve eğitmenlerin bu tekniği nasıl kullandıkları, Spolin’in felsefesinin nerelere uzandığı ve SPOLIN-IST’in Türkiye’deki işlerinden bahsediyor. Bu playlistten 5 bölümlük filmi izleyebilirsiniz. İngilizce bölümler için altyazınız açılmazsa alt köşedeki CC’ye tıklayıp aktive edebilirsiniz. İyi seyirler!