Upstart Theatre, London | Pathos Theatre, Munich | Highway Productions, Athens
Three cities, three theatres, one performance
TEXT BY Yannis Kalavrianos | Eri Kyrgia | Michael Sommer | Nora Schüssler | Tom Mansfield | Zodwa Nyoni
DIRECTED BY Yannis Kalavrianos | Michael Sommer | Tom Mansfield
Three theatre companies in three European cities (Athens, Munich, London) create an innovative theatre performance, produced simultaneously on three theatre stages, with the audience in each city watching a part of each story. The stories are then completed with the scenes interconnecting live and the actors on each stage communicating via the internet.
The performance is based on the true stories of people who – willingly or not – left their home to create a new one.
The project was initiated in mid 2015, the three companies worked on the issues of moving homes, moving to another country and communicating with those left behind. Phone Home’s research period coincided with the beginning of the Syrian war and the wide migration it triggered. As a result, many refugee and migrant stories found their way into the final text.
The creators worked with refugee and migrant organizations, connecting with people who found themselves resettling in one of the three participating cities, be it their final destination or just another stop along the way to their new home.
In London, we worked with Fairbeats! Music, Counterpoints Arts, Bards Without Borders, Love To Learn, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Journey MCC Birmingham (in association with Birmingham LGBT Centre), Refugee Action Kingston, Action for Refugees in Lewisham and Freedom from Torture’s Write to Life group.
In Athens, we co-operated with Synery-o and the emigrant theatre group Station Athens, the non-profit organization AMAKA, the Migrants Social Centre Tsamadou 13a and the organization Faros, which supports refugee children and teenagers in Greece.
In Munich, we teamed up with HPKJ (Heilpädagogish-Psychotherapeutische Kinder- und Jugendhilfe e.V.),
Diakonie München-Mossach e.V. and Heilig-Geist-Gemeinde Moosach.
Credit: Hannah Sibai
Credit: Hannah Sibai
The creative processing of the material and the development of the performance text evolved both via the internet (Skype) and with face-to-face meetings between the three directors and three dramaturgs (Eri Kyrgia, Nora Schüssler, Zodwa Nyoni) in Munich (April 2016) and London (July 2016). The process concluded with the meeting of all three theatre teams in Athens (September 2016), during which major technical issues were also discussed.
The final text is the result of a long process: at first, we selected real stories of people who had to leave their home for one reason or another. During our Joint Artist Workshop in Munich, the three creative teams, consisting of their director, actors and producers, got together to introduce themselves, improvise and finally select the stories that would be part of the final project. The selected stories were then distributed between the three teams, each undertaking to develop specific issues.
Throughout the writing phase, the six creative partners (directors and dramaturgs) remained in close communication exchanging ideas and notes on the stories now developing into scenes, respecting each director’s and each country’s aesthetics, mentality and theatre practices.
During the Final Meeting in Athens, actors from all teams read and rehearsed the scenes, while the writers made the final corrections and tweaks on the text. Following that, each team started rehearsing on their own and in common, via Skype interlinked rehearsals.
All 10 performances on all three stages are broadcast live online live online and giving the audience at home the opportunity to choose which theatre stage (Athens, Munich, London) and which part of each story they wish to watch at any given time.
THE MAKING OF PHONE HOME
A FILM BY REBECCA KENYON FOR MOTE OF DUST FILMS AND UPSTART THEATRE
The Creative Europe Programme
The performance of Phone Home is part of a wider creative project supported by the funding programme Creative Europe – Support for European Co-operation Projects initiated by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Committee.
Our project was selected for Creative Europe funding in May 2015, receiving high scores because of its close correlation to the EACEA’s main directives for re-enforcing European creativity by promoting cultural partnership between artists based in different countries, using new technology to achieve the widest possible interactivity between creators and approaching current subjects and a wide audience of all ages, nationalities and walks of life.