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Anne meets Jeffrey; surviving through fiction

Emma Berentsen & Tiffany Murphy

‘Anne meets Jeffrey’, 

a performance by Emma Berentsen and Tiffany Murphy. 

‘Fiction as Surviving Strategy’, 

a conversation between Simon(e) van Saarloos and Emma Berentsen

moderated by Mirthe Berentsen.

“Once we name something, you said, we can never see it in the same way again. All that is unnamable falls away, gets lost, is murdered. You called this the cookie-cutter function our minds.”

— Maggie Nelson

An evening on ‘Anne’ and ‘Jeffrey’ – two made-up names in a real violent encounter – on fictionalising yourself in order to (not) experience something. “This is a film,” Emma thought as she was pulled of her bike. Naming herself ‘Anne’ turned out to be a strategy, a way to survive this event. 

The event ‘Anne meets Jeffrey; surviving through fiction’ departs from the performance ‘Anne meets Jeffrey’. This work is presented and created by Emma Berentsen in collaboration with Tiffany Murphy. It investigates the rape case of ‘Anne’, the name Emma made up for herself the night of her rape by ‘Jeffrey’ (not his real name). The work explores the challenges posed by witnessing and remembering, especially in the face of trauma. An intimate recollection about the fear of dying, losing dignity and reclaiming power by facing your biggest fear. 

We invited philosopher Simon(e) van Saarloos to talk and think further with Emma after the performance, about ‘Anne’ and ‘Jeffrey’; and specifically about ‘their’ use of fiction as a strategy in an extreme situation. The way in which you involve yourself to witness on one hand or withdraw on the other, in order to survive… 

The conversation is moderated by writer and linguist Mirthe Berentsen, who is Emma’s sister. In 2017/2018 she did a residency at the mental health department of Kings County hospital in New York with the organisation ‘Beautiful Distress’ and she is currently working on a novel on language, psychiatry, mourning and privacy.  

21 November 2018



Emma and Tiffany met in 2013 during their MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths, University of London. As part of their graduation they created the performance MY NAME IS B with their founded company called Company B. Since 2016 Emma and Tiffany have been developing and working on a new project ‘Anne meets Jeffrey’. Both Emma and Tiffany are interested in the relationship between artist and audience, and their work is influenced by the role and representation of women in contemporary culture and society. 

Emma Berentsen

Emma Miriam Berentsen (NL, 1987) is a London-based performance artist. Most of her work is based on autobiographical material and the transformation of this material into diverse forms of theatre, performances and installations. She is interested in working on the edge of nonfiction and fiction and the boundaries of the medium of theatre. Berentsen previously presented work at several festivals and venues in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and the United States. 

Tiffany Murphy

Tiffany Jade Murphy (UK, 1991) is an award-winning performer and performance maker whose work aims to challenge both the performer and the spectator within a seemingly accessible setting. Murphy is interested in the quest for authenticity in performance, and the emphasis of presence over representation as a performer. Originally trained in musical theatre, Tiffany’s work tends to fuse and subvert elements of the form with live art and contemporary performance. Her work has previously been presented at several festivals and venues in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Czech Republik and France. 

Mirthe Berentsen

Mirthe Berentsen (1984) is a writer, journalist and cultural policy advisor. With her background in politics, art and literature, Berentsen writes about manifestations and tendencies inside and outside society, radical innovators and challengers of the status-quo. Her articles and stories have been published in publications such as: Art Asia Pacific, Das Magazin, De Groene Amsterdammer, Die Welt, E-Flux, LEAP, Metropolis M, NRC Handelsblad, Sleek, Volkskrant, Vrij Nederland, et al. Berentsen holds an MA in Comparative Literature and Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam and the Freie Universität in Berlin. She is currently working on a novel about language, grief and psychiatry.

Simon(e) van Saarloos

Simon(e) van Saarloos (1990, New Jersey USA) is a writer and philosopher, living

in Brooklyn, NY and Amsterdam. Simon(e) writes the “e” in her name between parentheses because she questions gender norms and doubts anything that appears ‘as given’ or self-evident. Also, what’s between parentheses might be more meaningful than what is said to be meaningful. She is the author of four books: Enz. Het Wildersproces [Etc. The Geert Wilders Trial, 2018], Het monogame drama [The monogamy Drama,] De vrouw die [The Woman Who], en Ik deug/deug niet [To Be Good or Not Be Good].

Created by:
Emma Berentsen & Tiffany Murphy

Concept by:
Emma Berentsen

Raz Weiner

Supported by:
Battersea Arts Centre, Camden People’s Theatre

Conversation by:
Simon(e) van Saarloos, Mirthe Berentsen, Emma Berentsen

Produced by:
Emma Berentsen & Annemiek van Elst