When Ummuye Kocak attends a school play, she gets the crazy idea that the women in her small mountain village in southern Turkey should put one on themselves. After all, they have each played roles of their own: mother, wife, nanny, farmer, firewood carrier. What does it matter if they only have a primary-school education and if some are functionally illiterate? The eight women enlisted by Kocak meet with school principal Hüseyin Arslanköylu, who listens to their stories of forced marriages, abusive and alcoholic husbands, and callous in-laws-stories they have never even told one another-and weaves them into one continuous multigenerational drama titled The Outcry of Women, in which the women are to play all the roles. As they run through their lines in the fields, rehearse in front of cardboard sets, and argue with the director-and with one another when one of them misses a rehearsal-they find that their husbands are treating them with a new respect. One woman's husband helps her memorize her lines, while another husband puts an end to his beatings. Local hairdresser Nesime Kahraman, who will play the role of the teacher, gives short haircuts to the women playing the male roles, while introverted narrator Behiye Yanik builds up her confidence by practicing her lines in front of a mirror. Kocak winds up playing Aytul, the daughter who thinks she can save the world by putting on a play, and in some ways, that is exactly what she does. Pelin Esmer's The Play is a joyous celebration of the strength that comes with finding your voice.
Born in 1972 in Istanbul, Pelin Esmer majored in sociology at Bogazici University, and after graduating attended director Yavuz Ozkan's film workshop. She was assistant director on many Turkish and foreign documentaries, features, and commercials, and also lectured on filmmaking at Kadir Has University. Her first film The Collector (2002) won Best Documentary at the Rome Independent Film Festival, while The Play won Best Documentary at the 2006 Trieste International Film Festival.