‘It’s a Tragicomic Project’: Andrea Kleine Talks ‘The End Is Not What I Thought It Would Be’

Andrea Kleine was supposed to perform at The Chocolate Factory Theater in New York when the pandemic put a halt to her plans. Together with her partner, musician Bobby Previte, she decided to move into the venue and continue as planned. This time, without an audience.

“When we first moved into the theater, we were so giddy. We were so happy to be doing something, anything. Many of my friends were actually jealous,” she recalls.

Now, the filmed account of that adventure, “The End Is Not What I Thought It Would Be,” is heading to Czech documentary fest Ji.hlava. Made with the help of lighting designer Madeline Best and YouTube tutorials, it sees Kleine serving as its director, producer, writer and editor.

“This project created an opportunity to break down what this dynamic is: What is performing if there is no audience,” she says.

“In theater, we talk a lot about ‘the moment’. This charged, electrified moment of being on stage, in the same room with someone who is watching you. But how do you recreate that when no one is there?”

Gradually, she got better at performing this way, she says. Finding herself open up in a series of lengthy, completely improvised monologues, covering everything from Chantal Akerman’s oeuvre to musings on whether a joke can even exist without anyone hearing it.

“They were not written, they were not rehearsed,” admits Kleine.

“I showed an earlier cut to a group of friends and one of them said: ‘How does it feel to have the insides of your brain turned over for everyone to see?’ It was a unique opportunity to explore one’s own interiority.”

The process allowed her to face her own fears. It also led to some interesting discoveries.

“I am actually not like that in person. I am not a chatterbox; I am much more reserved,” she says.

“One of the reasons I adopted this strategy of non-stop talking was because I felt that if I stopped, I would shut down or start judging it. I am laughing now, because it’s something I tell my students when I teach. If you are lost, just keep going.”

Combining Kleine’s “wacky” monologues, Previte’s performances and scenes from their daily life (“We were actually living there. It used to be a factory, so not the most comfortable of accommodations,” she laughs), her first feature-length film is still a reminder of a difficult time, full of uncertainty and fear.

“In 2020, even when we had only endured the pandemic for eight or so months, we really felt that chasm. Now, we all sort of adjusted to his hybrid reality.”

Also the author of novels “Calf” and “Eden,” Kleine has been collaborating with The Chocolate Factory – where the film will be shown in November – for a while now. But she sees herself as an “outsider” in the documentary world.

“Many people took on new projects during the pandemic as a way to focus their energy and get through the day. Our work is not always financially remunerative, so it’s so important for artists to find new ways of working.”

She doesn’t intend to perform these monologues ever again, however. Her last “performance,” captured in the film, turned out to be an emotional experience. One that caught her by surprise, she admits.

“I was actually crying quite a lot off camera too but we had to dial it down. I felt it was too emotionally prescriptive,” she says.

“All comedy has a tragic element to it. This is a tragicomic project.”

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