Michela Sisti, 25 January 2015

I called this session because this September my visa will expire and I will have to

leave the UK. I want to continue to live in a city that has a theatre community I can

learn from and participate in. Berlin has seemed to me to be a good city to relocate to

and I wanted to find out more about the arts scene there, the challenges of

collaborating with other artists while not being fluent in German, and the different

options available for supporting yourself economically.

Thank you so much to the kind people who very generously took the time to offer me

advice and share contacts. You have eased a lot of my anxieties and braced me for

some of the challenges I am going to have to face.

Here are the main points from our conversations:

- Berlin is an extremely cosmopolitan city and it is more than possible to live there and

make art and have a social life without being a fluent speaker of German

- At the same time not being fluent in German would prevent you from being fully a

part of Berlin society. You would be living in an ex-pat bubble.

- Learn as much German as you can before going over if you are interested in life

beyond the bubble

- There is a thriving English-speaking arts scene including an underground theatre

scene. It is mainly low-budget, self-produced theatre and generally not as complex or

daring as some of the really exciting work being created by German theatre


- the English-language spoken word scene is huge and really cool

- Check out the English Theatre in Berlin - their work is more straightforward than the

work being produced by their German counterparts but worth looking into

- Not speaking German may or may not get in the way of artistic collaborations. It

really comes down to the situations.

- It is a good idea to save as much money as you can before moving to Berlin. This will

allow you to spend more time making art than trying to make money.

- It is possible to work in pubs and cafes as an English-language speaker…but you've

got to find the right ones.

- Many people support themselves by teaching English. TEFL certification helps.

There is a company called BerlitzCamp that teaches English to kids using creative

teaching practices. Some people feel like they end up spending more time teaching

than they do making art.

Other places to consider living in:

-Cologne - generally a really nice place

- Budapest - emerging film scene; they like actors who can do American accents

- France - lots of theatre - Speak French!!!!

- Brussels - theatre scene is small but good for making your own work

If anyone who happens to visit this report has any additional advice to share it would

be very much appreciated! Also, if you live in or are moving to another country with a

good theatre scene it would be great to hear about your experiences.

Thanks so much everyone!

- Michela


Berlin, Visa expiring, Theatre abroad