Phone Home Kicks Off!

The tri-national kick-off meeting for the theatre project Phone Home was a success!

The introductory meeting took place last Wednesday (October 21st) between the project’s main creative teams, in Athens, London and Munich, via online-conferencing in the presence of the Greek and German Press.

Phone Home thus entered its next phase (research, December 2015 to March 2016), to be followed by the writing phase (April – July 2016), the rehearsal phase (September – October 2016) and will be completed in a simultaneous theatre performance in October 2016, presented on theatre stages in all three countries, interlinked by online conferencing.

Phone Home has been jointly developed under the Call for European Co-operation Projects by the Creative Europe fund of the European Commission’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, and will be produced by Highway Productions (Athens, Greece), Pathos Munich (Munich, Germany) and Upstart Theatre (London, U.K.)

For the project’s kick-off event last Wednesday, all three production teams ‘met’ in person and online to present their role, their goals and their inspiration surrounding Phone Home.

Highway Productions & Lykofos founder, George Lykiardopoulos, welcomed the Partners and members of the Press, talked about the Creative Europe fund and made special note of the threefold significance of the project’s selection with Highway Productions as its leader: the fierceness of the Creative Europe selection competition, the importance of making the most of European Funds in a difficult time for the Greek economy – especially in the field of culture – and the great opportunity this project presents for the participants to open up their work across European boarders.

The Greek director, Yannis Kalavrianos, talked about the inception of the idea for Phone Home and how the creative partnership came to be. He referred to himself being approached by his German counterpart, Michael Sommer, after a run of his latest theatre work with the Sforaris group in Germany. He then explained the project’s evolvement from a bi- to a tri-national undertaking, with the attachment of the Greek production team at Highway Productions and the introduction of the British partner Upstart Theatre in order for the project to be eligible for funding under the Call for European Co-Production Projects by the Creative Europe fund.

Project co-ordinator, Marilia Stavridou, then took over to talk more about the Creative Europe application process, and the difficulties and challenges it presented. Having experience from similar application processes (Eurimages, Media Development Fund, European European Integration Fund), as well as the production of European co-funded projects, the Highway Productions team was indeed confident that, in spite the rigorous selection process, Phone Home had a good chance of being picked. Even more so, since it followed Creative Europe’s objectives very closely: cultural mobility, new business models, digital shift και audience development. Their persistence and faith came through, since Phone Home was indeed selected. And the production team feels confident for its success, despite unexpected difficulties that have come up in the meantime (i.e. capital control regime in Greece, which had prevented the bank tranfer of the project’s prefinancing amount from the European Commission for the past three months…)

In Germany, Michael Sommer made an extensive reference to the original idea for the project. He made special note of the importance of communicating, understanding and co-existing with migrant and refugee groups. He focused on the pivotal role of smartphones and social media in our everyday communication and how these means can be used as a source of inspiration and documentation. Furthermore, he refered to the selection of the main creative team and described the phases of the project, its technical characteristics and the resulting challenges to be faced, making a note of the fact that Microsoft (owner of Skype) has been approached to support the project, thus securing the best possible technical support.

Angelika Fink, introduced Pathos Munich, its goals and its activities, specifically mentioning the theatre’s neighbouring area and its closeness to the migrant community in Munich. Pathos’ artistic director also expressed her expectation for the creation of an open, artistic partnership between the three participating countries.

Director Tom Mansfield and producer Emma Sampson represented the U.K. team. Tom introduced Upstart Theatre, describing their goals, previous experience and how relevant Phone Home is to their work and thematics. He also referred to the organizations that have already been contacted and have agreed to be involved in the project from the U.K. side.

Emma Sampson analyzed the project’s promotion and documentation regime, for which the UK team is mainly responsible and presented the newly launched Phone Home wesite (www.phonehome.upstart-theatre.co.uk), where the project’s documentation has already began.

The event went on to include a short Q & A session between partners and reported, and then the Greek team presented the project’s timeline. The participants also referred to their expectations and apprehensions in regards to the project’s demanding – let alone never-tried-before – technical aspect.

During the second round of comments from the Greek side, George Lykiardopoulos referred to Highway Productions & Lykofos previous experience with managing national and European funds – and reporting for them, as well as to the company’s role as the project’s Lead Producer. Finally, Marilia Stavridou concluded with a presentation of the project’s supporters so far in Greece (institutes, NGOs etc) and informed the German and U.K. partners that the European pre-financing (expected since July) had just been released that same morning!

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