Phone Home Athens Workshop 15

Date: 14/2/2016

Location: Synergy-o

Participants: 6 plus 2 Instructors

Countries of origin: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Australia, Greece


Inspired by the fact that is was Valentine’s Day, the group first talked about whether they commemorated the day back in their countries. There were some interesting revelations, i.e. the fact than in Pakistan this one the only day that people (in some parts of the country) are allowed to express their feelings openly.

There was also talk about a related myth that came from Afghanistan, but no details could be remembered.


Keeping with the subject of ‘expressing love in various forms in various countries’, the team was asked to present improvised stories around the issue, discussing what would be viewed as ‘normal’ and what as ‘strange’ back where they came from.

  • Improv. 1: Two men have a coffee at a café and react to two different situations: watching two girls, being openly loving towards each other and two men passing by holding hands. The Greek man thought it completely normal watching two girls embracing and kissing in the street, while the man from Pakistan was alarmed. On the other hand, the Greek man starting booing the two men holding hands, categorizing them as a ‘gay couple’, while the man from Pakistan thought that as completely normal: it is common in his country for two friends (men) to hold hands without that having to mean anything more
  • Group discussion on how the same image may cause a complete different reaction in two different cultures
  • Improv. 2: Unexpected couples – the group divided into couples and they presented a short improvisation (without talking) – the instructors had to guess where the couples were from and what was going on between them / Couple A: two cousins in Pakistan going to buy school supplies on a scooter / Couple B: a married couple in a large city in Afghanistan (where they have been trying to follow more European practices) out shopping  / Couple C: A man clumsily trying to pick up a woman in a European city – the woman rejects him.
  • Group discussion with each participant personally expressing thoughts on what he/she finds strange in ‘expressions of love’ in their country or in Greece – a very interesting session that got to be very personal, with issues of culture and religion regularly coming up during the conversation
  • Improv. 3: Family ties – the group had a mission to express family bonds during a short walk from one side of the practice room to the other / they chose an interesting story: two families arranging marriage for their children: the parents walking ahead discussing (extra note: the girls played the dads and the boys were the mothers for this) and the young couple walking behind them, trying and failing to flirt

Regarding future workshops:

Some of the participants expressed their worry about not being sure how the workshops would be concluded and how their participation would be used in the project.

Others wanted to prepare for a presentation at the end to showcase the work done.

We discussed the objectives of the project and the research phase once more and asked everyone to gather their thoughts regarding a final presentation and reconvene two weeks after (we won’t be having a workshop next week because of Yannis’ and Alexia’s new performance premiere).