Who Is It There? – Muhsin Bey’s Last Hamlet has a fictional story based on historical facts. The play’s text is written by the four members of the company some of who are also performers in it. In late 19th century during the last years of Ottoman Empire emerging modern Turkish speaking theater was performed mostly by non-Muslim population especially by Armenians. First Muslim woman performing on stage didn’t happen until 1919. When Modern Turkey was established in 1923 Muhsin Ertugrul became one of the leading figures to institutionalize western theater in Turkey. While Ertugrul mostly trained with old Armenian masters when he started his profession, they were mostly gone when he was running State Theater of Turkey.
In the play we see Ertuğrul in his late age getting prepared to direct Hamlet for a last time. Hamlet was also Ertugrul’s directorial debut in 1912. At that time he worked with Vahra Papazyan who Ertugrul calls his first theater teacher. Throughout the play ghosts of Papazyan and an imaginary actress Latife/Arusyak as the representative of the Muslim actress of the time, accompany Ertuğrul in his prep for the play by bringing memories from his unspoken personal history when he was building a national theater in Turkey with references to both Hamlet and Ertugrul’s career. By doing this, the audience starts to question the history of Turkish-Armenian theater people who we do not know well and whose tradition kept going in Turkish theater until today.