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Why was this piece - or ‘series’ as we called it, for the performances happened over four successive weeks – called ‘Berlin’? It was about the associations of the word, I think. The Berlin of the thirties, of Christopher Isherwood, of cabaret and Brecht, the nascent shadow of fascism hovering in the air; and then, post-war, a divided city, a place with a brutally monumental wall, the site of a giant collision, east and west. So perhaps it is appropriate all these years later to be returning with a film whose subject- matter is another giant collision of ideologies.
My other experiences of Berlin include performing ‘Oh Moscow’ (a song cycle for which I wrote the lyrics and Lindsay Cooper the music) whose subject was the deeper emotional links between a divided Europe and America through the long chain of emigration. As well as touring Western Europe our group performed the piece in East Berlin and West Berlin on successive nights, just months before the wall came down.
And, earlier, ‘Thriller’ was shown in the festival and then, some years later, ‘The Gold Diggers’, which won the audience prize; interesting, because ‘The Gold Diggers’ was often considered a ‘difficult’ film. Not for the Berlin audience, though, who got it all. ‘The London Story’ showed at Berlin as well.
I am writing this at breakfast in the ‘brasserie’ of the hotel; like a photocopy of a French restaurant with bare wooden floors and the dark wooden tables and chairs you might find in a Parisian café – until you look closer and realise they are brand-new reproductions - so, like everything else in the hotel, they are facsimiles, which somehow adds to the feeling of standing on the ghost of ‘no-man’s land’.
‘Oh Moscow’ treatment
‘The Gold Diggers’
(photo by Babette Mangolte)
SP writing in ‘French’ brasserie
‘The London Story’
(photo by Simon Corder)
Text © Sally Potter. All pictures © Adventure Pictures unless otherwise indicated