When generations come together, something magical is created. That is what actress and dramaturg Natalia Panagiotou has found in her theatre work with the elderly. During the lockdown, she created Yasemin – a local artistic collective aiming to set Art free from its traditional settings. With the other two members of Yasemin, Annie Sofocleous and Despina Chrysanthou, they organise an upcoming event about various generations meeting and sharing wisdom and tales.
“I have always been fascinated with the elderly,” said Natalia. “Perhaps because I was raised by a single mother and a grandmother. In Cyprus, family is one of the strongest notions we have.” Yet as life gets closer to completing a circle, many elderly spend a lot of time alone and entertainment is often stripped from them.
“When I came back to Cyprus,” said Natalia, “after my studies and work in France, I noticed that activities such as theatre and art are absent from the elderly’s life. So, I contacted some retirement and care homes and proposed theatre workshops for the elderly. What I wish is to bring art to people and make them feel less lonely.” And this is what she has been doing ever since – in between plays and children’s performances.
For the last three years, Natalia has visited care homes and held exercises and activities for residents. “At the beginning, most of the seniors are sceptical but then they get to know me and they are motivated, happy and can’t wait to play games and explore some theatre techniques,” she said. “I like to remind them of the children they used to be.”
This summer, during the Pame Kaimakli Festival organised by Urban Gorillas, Natalia directed a performance called the «Trattarisma», with actors from the Union of Cypriot pensioners. The play was inspired by their personal stories about flirt, treats, matchmaking, love, hospitality and spoon sweets – things that encompass their lives.
Seeing them perform and share stories was incredibly touching, Natalia said and she is passionate about bringing more people in contact with the tales of the elderly as they are both moving and educational. “I think it is important to know where we come from, our roots and origins, traditions and customs. We have to let the elderly share with the younger generations their stories from the past, their knowledge and values. By rediscovering our family history, the new generations will better understand themselves and the world around them.”
That’s the goal of her upcoming event ‘Meeting of Generations’ on October 10. In a forest area in the village of Mosfiloti, the anânke nature space, Natalia along with the other two founders of Yasemin – Annie Sofocleous and Despina Chrysanthou – have planned the first intergenerational family solidarity project: Meeting of Generations. The three women invite grandchildren and children to accompany their grandparents or parents on an alternative trip in nature. Through a structured afternoon with targeted activities, the facilitators aim to strengthen family relationships.
“At the Meeting of Generations, the elderly will have the chance to share with the next generations their valuable knowledge and experiences via theatre/movement games, exercises and storytelling.”
The event will begin at 3.30pm and will last for about three hours as grandparents share tales of a bygone era, their desires and nostalgia. Included in the price (€15-20) is what Cypriots call the mboukouma, treats and beverages offered by the host, something grandparents know very well.
Meeting of Generations
October 10. anânke nature space, Mosfiloti. 3.30-6.30pm. €15-20. Last day of registrations 08/10/2020. Information and Registrations: 96-269637, [email protected]