Fanis Katechos, one of the founding members of the multiactive Art Group Fabrica Athens, talks to theatermag about the group’s actions in the midst of mandatory confinement. The second part of the SabarBar action continues, the online meetings – lessons in penitentiaries and much more.
Would you like to tell us about the Fabrica Athens Art Group?
Fabrica Athens is an independent self-managed Theatrical Organization that has tried, is trying and will try to take art into its own hands. To treat art with care, to respect art, to create conditions for the group itself, but also for other independent artists to make their dreams come true. We are interested in researching and reaching the root of the sources of art and creating suitable grounds for inspiration and creation. The group has a social status and through its art wants to give social solutions. Fabrica Athens is a living cell that is constantly changing shape depending on the season, situations and people with the energies they carry per season.
Despite the lockdown condition, how can artists and the world be creative?
Creativity is an internal process that often has an external impact. A sculpture, a poem, a song, to how I cook or make my house. Many times when man is pressured by various conditions, his need for expression and creation swells. It may be an inner cry that tries to externalize so as not to explode. So if this is not the time to create, when will be the time?
What are you doing at the moment?
The actions we prepare are varied and we hope to be able to carry them out. Initially, the second phase of the Sabarbar action continues, which we implement together with the team No Play – Urban Project and other independent partners. A free songwriting seminar will be held at this stage. At the same time, we continue with Stathis Grapsas the online meetings – lessons in penitentiary establishments. That we have the opportunity to maintain this relationship with the prisoners, we believe is important for both sides.
It is important to keep the thread, because imagine that at the moment penitentiaries are not allowed to visit. So, continuing the courses creates a bridge of communication with the society.
The courses hosted by the roof of our Organization, Fabrica Artspace, continue online. Contemporary acrobatic dance, power stretching, shendao qigong, movement medicine and pilates – as the closed team of the “Research Theater” workshop of Fabrica Athens continues.
The Theater of Research continues to explore theater-pedagogical ways that respond to current reality and events. In addition, the documentary created on the way of work that followed the “Research Theater” in the previous quarantine is completed. The documentary was created by Adriana Maltezeanou as part of her internship at our artistic organization. Also, through the practices of the Theater of Research, the performer and trainer of the organization, Giovanna Michaliadi Sarti, continues the research for the creation of the play – study “Xanthi”, which we hope will be presented when conditions allow. We are also working on an educational show with soap bubbles (Bubble Performance), where in addition to the documentary there will be a place that will take us on a journey into the scientific phenomenon of the soap bubble.
Would you like to tell us how the idea for the “SabarBar” action came about?
Sabar is a type of cactus, while in Arabic it is associated with the concept of patience. We wanted to express ourselves together and create something that is connected to the public space of the neighborhood of Exarcheia, but that lasts over time. Thus, SabarBar was born in March 2020, when within the framework of the Co-Athens / Curing the Limbo program of the Municipality of Athens, 20 Athenian groups from various fields met with the refugee participants of the program, with the aim of trying an original idea in practice. The locals of the city are active in the field of culture, but also in other practices, to actively cooperate with our newly arrived roommates, jointly proposing ideas that can make our city better. We for SabarBar work closely with the UrbanDig Project.
What is the response of the people so far?
Despite the difficult times we are going through due to the quarantine, more than 40 people showed interest in the Online Oral History Seminar we held. The purpose of this series of workshops was to get acquainted with the methodology of oral history: the collection and processing of oral testimonies. The seminar included four 1½ hour online meetings and at least one live or online interview that each participant would take.
It was held under the guidance of Tasoula Vervenioti -historic with great experience in oral history- while, as a process, it was coordinated by George Sachini. The participants showed great motivation and the oral story material collected as deliverable was extremely interesting. According to Tassoula, she did not lag behind in any of the corresponding “live” Oral History seminars.
What other projects are you preparing?
We are in the phase where the narratives of the inhabitants of Exarcheia will be turned into songs. Experienced lyricists and composers will be inspired by the material of Oral History that has been gathered by the participants of the workshops with Tasoula Vervenioti and will write lyrics and music, slowly building the “music map” of the city. The songs will be uploaded on the open platform troubadours.gr, an application created by the UrbanDig Project with the Alternative Tours of Athens, while they will be the trigger for a musical-theatrical event that will be presented in the streets of Exarcheia, when conditions allow. The project is part of the co-Athens implemented by the European pilot program of the Municipality of Athens Curing the Limbo. The program is co-financed by the NSRF under the UIA program.
What is your wish for the period we are going through?
Good start to the new season to come. Let us all manage to be reborn from our ashes, to shake off our shoulders coats that do not belong to us and to move on to a new page, which we will fill with beautiful colors this time.
Many thanks to theatermag. You can find the interview with photos here.