Text by Kiriakos Spirou
A large group of protesters have reopened EMBROS Theatre in Athens last night, after it was evacuated and sealed off by the police last Thursday.
The theatre was built in the 1930s and was designated a listed monument in 1989. It fell into disuse in 2007, until a group of artists and local residents occupied it in 2011 and reactivated it as a self-organised, open space for the arts.
EMBROS Theatre became an important hub for independent and radical art groups for nearly a decade and hosted hundreds of events, assemblies, rehearsals and workshops by artists, activists, designers and many others. Its history however has not been without its dark spots.
In 2019 a controversy erupted between the EMBROS organising committee and a feminist group that had been using EMBROS for its meetings, after the committee refused to address an incident where a 20-year-old Spanish man was raped at the theatre during a public event, and dismissed the protests of feminist groups as “over-reactions”. The rapist was never identified and the feminist group stopped using the Theatre for their meetings.
On 20 May 2021, a large police force cordoned off the area around the Theatre and evacuated the building. There was nobody inside during this operation and some objects were removed. The police then sealed off all doors and windows with cement bricks.
A protest was immediately organised outside EMBROS the next day and on Saturday evening. While the rest of Greece was watching the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, the protesters demolished some of the cement bricks and announced they are reclaiming the Theatre.
A full programme of solidarity events is taking place today Sunday, as follows:
11:00-16:00 The Support Art Workers orchestra will be rehearsing outside the Theatre
16:00 An open rehearsal for the play The 10 by M. Karagatsis
17:00 Storytelling for children “In front of the cement bricks”
19:00 The EMBROS General Assembly will take place to organise the next steps
Everyone is invited to join the events in solidarity with keeping the Theatre open.
For updates you can follow EMBROS on Facebook (their Twitter is inactive).