Volksbühne Berlin am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz

Fucking Liberty!

Written and directed by Ulli Lommel

Already at age 4 the actor, director, screenwriter and producer Ulli Lommel (*1944) joined his parents – the famous entertainment stars of Circus Lommel – on stage. In 1969 the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder signed him for his first feature film and 20 more film projects with Fassbinder were to follow. Not to mention Lommel’s many roles in other German and international films until he finally settled in the United States in 1977. When he met Andy Warhol they teamed up for various film projects. The success of his own film The Boogeyman (1980) made him stay in America. Lommel has lived on the coast at the foot the Hollywood Hills ever since, producing more than forty films for the entertainment studio Lionsgate. Apart from co-operations with Warhol and Fassbinder, Lommel worked with Orson Welles, William S. Burroughs, Anna Karina, Heinz Rühmann, Maria Schell, Hildegard Knef, Elvis Presley, David Carradine, Curd Jürgens, Eddie Constantine, Richard Hell, Carole Bouquet, Jack Palance, Klaus Kinski and countless other icons of popular Western culture. Most of them - and a couple of others - form part of his first theatre production written for and staged at Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg Platz. "I’ll take you on a trip to America, to the Planet of the Apes and back - way back deep into the dark brown Nazi past of Germany, before we’ll ultimately reach New Mexico where the Mescalero apaches live.” Why? Ulli Lommel: „It’s my FUCKING LIBERTY; I was three years old when ‚Amerika’ and the concept of liberty powerfully crashed on me for the first time. It was in 1948 in the Bavarian town of Garmisch where my mother and I had spent the summer. We were sitting in our kitchen when all of a sudden the house started shaking and then the ominous barrel of an American Sherman tank appeared outside our window. A cool looking, smiling G.I. asked us for salt and sugar in broken German. Mother and I were glad to grant his request and in return we received a plastic bag full of cold French fries and a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum. I instantly felt that Americans were our friends and liberators, not enemies. During my Teenage years we lived in Bad Nauheim, just around the corner from Elvis Presley, who was stationed there for a short period as U.S. soldier. Somehow we met and we started to make music together. It was Elvis who in 1959 liberated my mind from the stale narrow-mindedness and hypocrisy of post-war Germany. I ran away from home, played my own music and went on tour with a band. Dad sent the police after me and I called him a Nazi for that. Three years later he died and I still hadn’t apologized. He repeatedly told my mother that he was worried about this “Presley guy”’s bad influence on me, and that surely it was the beginning of the end. He had no idea how right he was. I would spend days at the port of Bremerhaven where the huge ocean liners put out to sea. America was my land of hope and glory, where the weather forecast was chanted by a wonderful female voice; it was the land where a good guy like Elvis came from, and a woman like Marilyn would become a legend; where JFK was president with a stunning First Lady like Jackie. It was clear to me: I had to be part of it. I had to go there. Yet when the Vietnam war started and the Kennedys got shot, when there was brutal police action against anti-war protesters, first in San Francisco and then all over the country, when Martin Luther King was murdered, it dawned on me that I had to give up my dream. However, things turned out differently. In 1977 I flew over to New York to attend a film festival and that’s where I met Andy Warhol. He invited me to work in his Factory. We did films, interviews and polaroids, and Andy showed me a different America. Twice we travelled from New York to Los Angeles by car and ever since then I’ve known better what freedom really means. It’s all about space, endless space; and about fresh ideas that can develop. The vastness of the land changes you forever. And then one day near Lake Jacomo you meet Joe Blow from Kansas City, Missouri, and his dog Rocky hunting ducks, armed with 40 different whistles to reproduce the ducks’ mating calls and a duck float in which Rocky has to hide so as not to be seen by the birds, and you know that Joe Blow and his dog, too, feel the freedom. And when my 89-year-old mother, the Baroness Carla von Cleef, flies over to see me in Los Angeles and hires a white 1976 Cadillac convertible and whizzes through California in a rocker girl outfit with people shouting “You go, Girl!” from the side of the road, then also my mother can feel the freedom. Freedom cannot simply be exported or enforced. I wish those Tea-Party people would realize that. Freedom does not mean the ability to choose your coke from 97 different brands at four a.m. in a supermarket. Freedom is the open space that is created in your mind, in your heart and in your soul. The rest is Fucking Liberty."