My last blog, a week ago, was about What happened when award-winning performer Becky Fury went to Berlin for a week to create art but she only stayed for a day.
It was not exactly clear why her stay was so short. And several readers of this blog have asked me (yes indeed they really have) why.
The only explanation in the previous blog was: “the guy that invited me to Berlin, who has taken way too much acid… didn’t really think about the logistics of inviting people to make art there. So I decided to get a plane back to London after I went into Berlin itself on a psycho-geographic ramble.”
So, obviously, a couple of days ago, I sat down and had a cup of tea with Becky (we are, after all, British) and asked her to be more specific.
And this is the way the conversation went…
BECKY: The guy read your blog, contacted me and said he had been wondering what happened to me.
JOHN: He didn’t realise you had left Berlin?
BECKY: No. I hadn’t told him.
JOHN: You left over a week ago.
BECKY: Well, there were a few things he didn’t notice and the fact that I had left Berlin was one of those things.
JOHN: He had done too much…
BECKY: He had done too much… of something. He had had… erm… He had had way too much ‘fun’. That’s a nice way of explaining it.
JOHN: But he never noticed you had gone? Did you leave a stuffed dummy of a human body under your bedclothes?
BECKY: This was the thing. I didn’t have a bed to sleep in. That was mainly the reason I left. Because I was given a couch in a freezing cold warehouse in East Berlin in January.
JOHN: We couldn’t afford couches in my day…
BECKY: Maybe I should have considered myself lucky… And I had a dirty sleeping bag to sleep under.
JOHN: Sounds ideal. This is the stuff of award-winning Edinburgh Fringe comedy shows.
BECKY: I know… I… err… I don’t want to get distracted by what you’re saying.
JOHN: Few people do.
BECKY: Basically, I went to Berlin to do some art. We had had this really, really interesting conversation, this guy and me. I had met him when I first started to do squatting and alternative politics in 2002. It was a really interesting thing to catch up with him and have a conversation about all the things that had happened since 2002. And he told me we could do a film in his ‘green screen room’ in Berlin. I knew that, over the previous 17 years, he had been taking a lot of… having a lot of ‘fun’.
When I got to Berlin, he took me up to see the green screen room and it was the size of… well, basically, you couldn’t stand up in it. Which is a bit of a problem for a green screen room. And he had a tent in the green screen room and he was sleeping in there.
I looked at him and he looked at me and he said: “Oh, no, no, well, we could do it like a rocket. We could film it like we were in a rocket ship in here.”
And I was thinking: No, we couldn’t. We could only film it in here like we were two tramps living in a tent in a green screen room. There’s nothing else you can do in this space. You ARE actually like a tramp living in this tent in a room that you have green screened and this is fucking insane. I can’t work in this space and I clearly can’t work with you.
And he kinda knew there was something wrong, but this is the thing about people having too much… who have had too much ‘fun’. It is like you’re tripping all the time.
I wasn’t angry with him at all. He was in his dream and he wasn’t really seeing why there was a problem. In his dream, it was fine. We would absolutely make an amazing film with us in a tent flying through space.
He told me this guy from (a well-known cabaret music group) was coming down. And he did. But the date he had given the guy was totally wrong: it was like four days afterwards. I mean, you really can’t get people to fucking come from other countries to meet up and the two people who are meant to be doing the project together arrive four days apart!
He had not done the logistics and I was meant to stay on this freezing cold couch under a dirty sleeping bag for four days. He told me that is what everyone in Berlin does.
So I wandered off.
There was also inter-personal politics with people in the house.
Basically, they had set up an art space in an enormous warehouse space.
There was the original Tacheles squat after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the squatters got evicted and it was turned into luxury flats. And these were the same (squatter) people who had moved and set up a new Tacheles.
That’s what he told me and it is, but there were two sets of agendas going on.
He has sort-of ‘arted’ all over the warehouse – like he has pissed all over the place, but with art. Art everywhere. So the people upstairs have to deal with him: this guy who is ‘arting’ all over their place.
JOHN: Is this not good? Whatever happened to the joy of anarchy?
BECKY: Well, the thing about anarchy is it needs some level of organisation for it to function, otherwise it’s just chaos and a big mess. Which is fun. And it was interesting to go and visit it. But I think that might be why, in the picture you put in the last blog, I look like I’d seen a ghost: that I had seen The Ghost of Anarchy Past and had to leave and run away very fast.
JOHN: So, basically, you just left because you were a bit cold…
BECKY: (LAUGHING) Basically, that’s it! I could have waited to find out if the guy turned up from the (well-known cabaret music group) – which he did.
JOHN: So, at what point did this bloke who enticed you over to do art discover you had left Berlin? Only when he read my blog?
BECKY: No. When the other guy turned up four days later and I wasn’t there.
JOHN: How had you left?
BECKY: I said: “I’m going to go for a walk.”
JOHN: To the guy who had had too much fun?
BECKY: No. To the other guys upstairs. They said to me: “We don’t really know what you’re doing here.”
And I was thinking: I don’t really know what I’m doing here either.
I could have won them over with my natural wit and charm and – obviously – the opportunity to be mentioned in your blog. But I thought: I don’t really want to be here and I’ve got other shit to be getting on with. So I said I was going for a walk and was thinking I’d get an AirBnB or something but, by the time I had left and got a bit of food and was near the station – I hadn’t eaten since I got there because the guy didn’t have any food…
JOHN: You had only been there for like half a day! That’s hardly hardship…
JOHN: So you said you were going off for a walk like Captain Oates?
BECKY: Yeah. “I might be some time” and they never saw me again. I did my Captain Oates bit and bowed out disgracefully.
JOHN: Though, unlike Captain Oates, you went to a warmer place.
BECKY: Though we don’t know what happened to Captain Oates, do we?
JOHN: No we don’t. But you left because…
BECKY: I had thought it was going to be a really functional space with loads of people. Not just three cold and very irritable hippies and a man who had taken too much fun.
Although, to be honest, that is a better audience than I’ve sometimes had at the Edinburgh Fringe…
So I came back to London and learnt the script for Political, my show at the Leicester Comedy Festival on 22nd February.
JOHN: Well promoted.
BECKY: I try.
JOHN: And you’ve succeeded.