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What The Beggar’s Opera is Not

Dears, before getting any answer at all on my previous letter, I have to write to you again because of a matter that causes me some unrest.
I saw recently in an Art Fair a “fake” beggar. I spoke with him and he told me he was the work of an artist. I went and spoke with the artist about his intentions and reasons, what was behind the work. He told me he basically wanted to attract attention to social unjustice by reminding the superficial public of an art fair that misery existed. He had created a company where unemployed people begged for money at cultural events, and he paid those people. The name of the company was “Misery Unlimited”, and the company was what he considered his work to be. So as to say, he produced an "artifice" (the beggars were fake, perhaps they were unemployed, but they were not beggars) to remind people of a truth (misery).
Without wanting to go into criticism about that project, I feel is necessary to clarify from the very beginning some points about "The Beggar’s Opera".

1- It is not a social project. It is not our intention to draw attention towards the less fortunate sectors of society. It is not our intention to criticise cultural events nor cultural public. We do not consider ourselves to be better than them, worse if anything.

2- It is not your mission to “disguise” yourselves as beggars. You are not “infiltrated” in the community of beggars, and your aim is not to get money. This said and this being clear, you might act as beggars or decide to disclose your true identity, you may beg and accept money, or not, you may adopt any of the beggar attitudes and beggar character-identities described in the previous letter, or create new ones, but you will do all this with the only intention to create an interesting situation. That’s all that matters.

3- Your aim is to gather information about the city, the people and the enormous cultural event that is Munster Sculpture Projects. You use these informations to get at your second, more important aim: to construct a character (The Beggar) that is part of the public space landscape of Munster, and to construct a good Story made out of the every day stories you see and you create. These stories, these good stories, are to be told and to be read in the internet site of The Beggar, and in the theatre presentation we will regularly make.

4- If we have to choose a model, at the moment I am specially inclined to choose the model of Diogenes, the cynic, the dog.

Hope to get soon a reaction from you, all best,

Tue 29
May 2007

Dear Dora, The really

Posted by anonymous user

Dear Dora,

The really intersting thing for me will be what we can make of it. I mean practically, on the basis of the Dreigroschenoper. I already told you a little about my attitude and of course I am willing to discuss it with all of you three. At least partly, because some little things I have to keep private to make it really happen, as I think you understand.

I believe we should really ask for money and take it. Perhaps I am not the strictest method actor, but I think the licence to really asking for money and accepting it will help. Donating money is, of course, a wonderful thing, but would it also be OK for you if I kept the money to spend it for example in public? (I hope that this question will not make you doubt if I tell the truth if you ask me how much money the people gave to me.)


Tue 29
May 2007

hey dora i just finished

Posted by anonymous user

hey dora

i just finished brecht's book and i guess the other artist took an example to Peachum.
as your second letter, you made this very clear last time during our discussions, and i believe your approach opens a lot of possibilities which would stay closed in other case.

i've been thinking about beggars speaking the truth:

i believe their is an unmisstaken truth in how they inhabit the space, this does not mean they are "speaking the truth" in a way we are not, but by their presence they represent a truth. E.g. a beggar who is lying what he is begging for, is still telling a truth.
What that truth exactly means, well, i don't know (yet).
We, as humans, lie to each other, and to ourselves, i don't believe we can avoid that (perhaps only those creatures who decide to step out the language-realm), and we know it, although we tend to forget. We are able to feel this. It's like your knee that hurts, but you keep walking, and after months you tend to forget, but the pain is still there!!

perhaps that's why almost all people have this dream/utopia of escaping this society, because they do not want to lie anymore. And perhaps beggars chose to leave society this way (utopia doesn't necessary mean a faraway tropical island)

i know you choose the model of Diogenes. we (Jan, Samir and I) deliberately choose this "begging existence". Yes, we earn money by doing this, but i believe their is more reasons then that to it. That is a good question for us. Why do we decide to do this?
Not to educate the public i hope... To experience a realm (i haven't found another word) which normaly we nor the public would enter.

i believe you have a good approach on the classification.
i miss the beggar who lives on the streets and when he's hungry, or thirsty, does this with disdain for the one who he's begging to.
i miss the beggar who just sits there with a cup, not saying/showing anything (or is this also choreography)

kind regards