Under These Words (Solidarity Athens 2016)

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Three actors go on a journey through Athens. They seek to listen to fellow-citizens engaged in different organisations of the grassroots solidarity movement: a clinic, a pharmacy, a kitchen, a school. In the course of many conversations, the social imaginary of the citizens unfolds as a living continuity.

“I went to Athens with the idea of staging the story of Oresteia – the part in which Furies become the guardians of a newly established justice – with theater actors and citizens involved in the solidarity movement. I wanted to provide an imaginary of how the many local grassroots organisations – clinics, pharmacies, kitchens, food redistribution centres, schools – that emerged after the disassembly of the occupations of the squares in 2011 have created the material capabilities that enable self-governance, and, in doing so, have provided sustainable infrastructures for a transformative justice. In the encounter with the Athinians, the idea of superposing an allegorical fiction of the ancient Greek tragedy upon the social present of Athens 2016 crumbled. The actors fell silent and withdrew into the role of listeners to the practical consciousness of the citizens, or what is being lived through organizing a society parallel to the Greek state. While a representative portrait of a social movement seemed inadequate, something else entered into focus, a particular quality of social experience and relationships that couldn’t be described in formal concepts of worldview and ideology. Perhaps the closest term for this is Raymond Williams’ ‘structures of feeling’: a kind of feeling and thinking that is social and material, thoughts as felt and feelings as thought from the known complexities and uncertainties, forms of confusion and unease. What I originally hoped to learn from staging Oresteia - the idea of socially lived (in)justice - returned from the solidarity movement as a ‘structure of feeling’.” (Robin Vanbesien)