Embros Theatre: when art meets politics in turbulent times

Written for The Occupied Times

It was November 2011 when the lights were turned on again at the Embros Theatre, a historical building in the Psirri district of Athens that remained abandoned for 5 years as the Ministry of Culture let it fall into disrepair. In an attempt to bring it back to life, a group of theatre artists and theorists known as the “Mavili Collective” coordinated a 12-day series of talks, discussions and performances that were open to the public. Scholars and artists from various disciplines were invited together to challenge the dominant market-led consensus and embrace an alternative model of collective management, introducing new forms of creative work.

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Anti-austerity protests

Approximately 3000 people gathered in front of the parliament this morning to protest against austerity, chanting slogans and singing the national anthem. The demo was called by the two major trade union bodies of Greece, GSEE and ADEDY, that reportedly have plans for a third general strike in a row, on top of a series of events coordinated with unions and artists, that will culminate on February 29th, the European day of action.
A new demo was this afternoon in Syntagma sq. from left wing groups, SYRIZA trade unionists’ network, primary unions, motorcyclists and Mikis Theodorakis movement. Here are the main highlights:

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#We_Are_All_GreeksNow demos

A wave of demonstrations under the slogan “We are all Greeks now” is taking place this afternoon in various cities across Europe and on the other side of the pond, where the Occupy Wall Street movement began. The list with the cities where people plan to march in solidarity with Greek people’s struggle against the austerity is long: Milan, Helsinki,Cologne, London, Dublin, Berlin, Copenhagen, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Stockholm, Edinburgh, Reykjavík, Barcelona, Lisboa, New York, Coimbra and Porto…to name a few. If you wish to check each city’s meeting point, please click here.

Greece en rage

22% cut in the minimum wage, 15% cut in complementary pensions and 15.000  civil service redundancies, are the austerity measures -among others- that the coalition government agreed in return for bailout loans, dragging Greek people into the downward spiral of poverty. The country’s two major trade union bodies GSEE (General Confederation of Workers) and ADEDY (Civil Servant’s union Federation) have called for a 48h general strike, starting today. Anti-austerity mobilizations will take place in various cities across the country which are expected to escalate on Sunday, when parliament will be voting on the terms of the loan agreement. To this end, School of Law has been occupied by students and citizens, aspiring to become a hub of activities and support amid demos of the next days.

6000 police officers are expected to be on duty for the anti-austerity demos during the weekend, reinforced by 12 prosecutors on guard. Theιr focus will be on government buildings, banks, uni campus and especially the area in close proximity to the parliament. Tube stations of Panepistimio, Evaggelismos and Syntagma will remain shut. It is estimated that the occupied building of Law School may become shelter for demonstrators in case of trouble. To this end, riot police officers will be guarding in a discrete manner the building since the abolishment of the academic asylum law has sparked resentment and the police is not eager to take full responsibility of handling clashes that may occur inside the campus. Stop-and-search tactics will be employed as well.

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Dec 6, 2011: demos to mark 3 years since Alexis’ assassination

It was Dec 6, 2008 when the fatal injury of a 15 years old boy by a policeman in central Athens, went viral and sparked civil unrest on an unprecedented scale. Youths flooded the streets of the capital and footage of blazing cars, smashed window displays and clashes with riot police was on the news. The unrest spread quickly in various cities across the country, followed by occupations of GSEE Trade Confederation’s premises, schools, university campuses, Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers building, city halls and National Opera. 

What happened back then was not a mindless disorder, it was undoubtedly a political statement. The pull was triggered and public anger went over the top, over police mistrust, a series of financial scandals, leader’s inability to tackle immigration issues, rising unemployment and dreams for a better future falling apart. Dec 6, 2008 is a key date for social movements in Greece, it’s the starting point of a slow but profound radicalization springing up in various sections of society.

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