The Dupont family is prompted by an indefinable terror (the noise) to flee upward from apartment to apartment, into ever more constricting circumstances. They are constantly on the run and their world is forever narrowing. A mysterious woman (the Schmürz) appears everywhere they go and whom they continually maltreat, yet whose existence they refuse to recognise. But the Schmürz always awaits them and the Schmürz never dies. New production of Boris Vian’s superlative 1959 dark comedy, from award-winning director Aleksandar Popovski and designed by Selin İşcan. Performed in Turkish with English surtitles. Absurdist theatre to delight.

The Empire Builders’ met with its audience in the 19. Istanbul Theatre Festival. The company performed their first premiere with the participation of Aleksandar Popovski, the director of the play. With his outstanding work, Popovski won The Best Director Award for The Empire Builders in Afife Theatre Awards in 2015. After raising the ‘Best Production’ award in Beşiktaş Lions Theatre Awards, the artistic director and actress Selin Iscan deemed worthy of The Best Actress Award in New Theatre Journal Awards with her role “Schmürz” in 2015. The company also attended to the Skopje Festival in 2014 and Northern Cyprus Theatre Reunion. 

Theatre Hayal Perdesi performed The Empire Builders in Edinburgh Fringe, known as the world’s most extensive and prestigious theatre festival in its 68th and 69th edition. The play has won the title of the first Turkish play performed in Fringe with English surtitels and put its stamp on the history of the festival as the one and only spectacle in Turkish language amongst 48 other countries. After the quest of fourteen challenging nights with the international audience of C Venues, the company received a raft of sublime reviews from reputable journals and been praised both per formatively and theatrically. Eventually, the Empire Builders has been considered worthy of four stars with their performances by more than one critics with encouraging quotes such as ‘Indefinable Excellence’ and ‘Unshakeable Performances’. 

The Empire Builders was nominated for the IL Teatro Nudo Teresa Pomodoro International Award. (Italy – Milan – 2016)

Following the success in the Fringe, the dedicated ensemble is now more excited to reach out for new audiences all around the world while performing The Empire Builders regularly in Turkey. 

★★★★ “Indefinable Excellence! ” Three Weeks 

★★★★ “Unshakeable Performance!”  BroadwayBaby

“Thanks to Theatre Hayal Perdesi’s perky surtitled production of The Empire Builders, a 1959 political farce in which a family keeps being moved upstairs into smaller premises.” Mark Lawson – Guardian 

 “…a group of performers from Istanbul is making a different kind of history in Edinburgh. The Empire Builders is the first known Turkish language play to make it to the Fringe. It won best director, best actor and best production awards in the International Istanbul Theatre Festival last year…”  The Times

★★★★  “Strong performances and an increasingly desperate atmosphere ensure that the absurdist vision is evident even to the vicious end.” The Lis

★★★★ “French absurdist play from Turkey combines impeccable comic timing with stamina.” The Stage 

★★★★ “In an era when power must be held to account more than ever, it’s a nightmarish warning against political complacency.” The Scotsman 

“A wonderful play ! The staging is diabolically effective.” revue-spectacle

★★★★  “Turkish theatre company Hayal Perdesi, a vital alternative creative space in Turkey, have won awards all over Europe for their ingenious production of Boris Vian’s absurdist, arcane play The Empire Builders. A popular Milano theatre rag captured the production’s appeal which transcends Europe’s borders, describing it as a “beautiful” triumph, succeeding “where the European politicians have failed.” The Skinny 

“It is strictly recommended to every theatre lover and to the members of Theatre Awards Jury!”  Robert Shild / T24 

“Leaving traces both in our mind and soul, The Empire Builders is one of the most exceptional plays of this year.” Ragıp Ertuğrul / Turkish Association of Theatre Critics

“Turkish theater resists terrorism on stage.” – La Provence, France

“Compagnie Hayal Perdesi succeeded where European leaders failed.” Krapp’s Last Post, Milan 

“An anti-conformist and rebellious play: The Empire Builders gets 10 out of 10!” Evrensel, Üstün Akmen 


  • Written by: Boris Vian
  • Translated in to Turkish by:  Ayberk Erkay
  • Directed by: Aleksandar Popovski
  • Assistant Director: Hümay Güldağ
  • Stage Design: Sven Jonke
  • Costume Design: Taciser Sevinç
  • Lighting Design: Aleksandar Popovski
  • Music & Effect Design: Barış Manisa
  • Choreography: Handan Ergiydiren
  • Costume Assistant: Marta Montevecchi
  • Lighting Realisation: Mustafa Dinç
  • Assistants: Müslüm Köse, Melek Ata
  • Poster Design: Can Ertaş


  • Father: Reha Özcan
  • Mother: Ayse Lebriz Berkem
  • Schmürz: Selin İşcan
  • Zenobia: Tuba Karabey
  • Mug: Selin Tekman/Naz Özgülüş
  • Neighbor: Nihat Alpteki

Lasts 65′; no intermission. Turkish, with English surtitles.

“To close your eyes in front of something that is obvious… That never brought anyone any good…” I don’t know what the world was like when Boris Vian wrote this play. I don’t know how that world perceived the story about a family running away from something unfamiliar, a sound, something they don’t understand at that time. To me it seems as though the story was written in the present. The first time I read it I hought that no had has ever managed to define the feeling of our everyday lives filled with fear and paranoia and everything that surrounds us better. Schmürz has no sign that can define it nationally, geographically or religiously. He is a part of the oppressed.

Aleksandar Popovski