Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Alex Critoph: Vines

By | Published on Thursday 9 March 2017

I have to be honest, I had to google ‘Ayahuasca Ceremony’ to find out what it was, but now that I know, it seems like a rather interesting inspiration for a piece of theatre, and yes, I was intrigued enough to want to find out more.
Metal Mouth Theatre’s Alex Critoph is the creative force behind ‘Vines’, a short piece about self-perception and finding one’s motivation. I put some questions to her, ahead of her London run.

CM: Tell us about Vines. What’s the story and where does it take us?
AC: Vines is a solo show about motivation and self-perception. We follow Rose as she takes a leap into an Ayahuasca Ceremony in a brave bid to find her mojo.

CM: What are the themes explored in the Play?
AC: Feminism. Self perception. Human connection.

CM: What inspired you to write about this particular subject? Is the character based on you or someone you know?
AC: I’ve been interested in Ayahuasca for a long while, there seems to be an exploding fascination with it in western culture what with documentaries like DMT: The Spirit Molecule. I’d also been thinking a lot in general about this dichotomy which not just actors but artists in general face of still having to pay the bills when they’re not performing and what it does to you. How do you remain a creative person? How do you deal with the fact you’re not doing what you love?

And so I took part in an Ayahuasca Ceremony myself and found it a completely eye opening experience. It’s that experience which inspired me to write the play. It’s not just about Ayahuasca though, more importantly it’s about how you find your motivation, through any means.

CM: When you came up with the show did you always see yourself performing it?
AC: I did. I like the idea of developing the show myself. I aim to keep working on it.

CM: Why did you create a one person show? Why did you feel like the topic lent to solo rather than ensemble performance?
AC: It wasn’t consciously one or the other, it just ended up as a one person play.

CM: Do you enjoy performing by yourself?
AC: I’m used to performing as part of a company, LAMDA is very ensemble based. Performing by yourself has a lot of different challenges.

CM: How does the fact that this is your creation affect the way you work with your director?
AC: I’m working with a fantastic director called Leah Fogo who is currently developing a new musical called ‘Unraveling’ and was assistant director at The Hampstead Theatre on Lisa Spirlings ‘Pine’.

From the word go we decided to completely forget that I had written the play, it was a great decision as it allowed us to discover the show together. I think it was really important to look at the play objectively and also to be able to criticise it, cut bits and talk about the bits that didn’t work without being precious.

CM: Have you created your own work before? Why does this artistic approach appeal to you?
AC: I created a one person show for The Brighton Fringe Festival called ‘Washed’ and a few other pieces with Metal Mouth Theatre. I went to the BRIT School before LAMDA which had a big focus on devising and writing. They do a great new writing festival called Strawberry Picking. A lot of actors in my year at LAMDA are creating their own work and find it really satisfying. It appeals to me because I love writing.

CM: Tell us about Metal Mouth – who is behind the company and how did you get together? What are your aims?
AC: So, Metal Mouth is a company founded by myself, Taio Rene Lawson and Joel MacCormack whilst we were at The BRIT School together. We produced our own work like ‘Washed’ for The Brighton Fringe Festival, ’90s Kid’ at The Etcetera Theatre and ‘Sinisterrr’ at The Cockpit Theatre. We then went our separate ways as we left BRIT and went onto our respective Drama Schools.

This is my first time creating my own work under Metal Mouth Theatre since graduating. My aim is to tell good stories.

CM: What hopes or ambitions do you have for the future?
AC: I aim to keep developing the show, and take it to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year.

CM: What’s coming up next after ‘Vines’?
AC: Well, I intend to keep developing the show. There’s also soon to be a blog starting on the ‘Vines’ website which will act as a platform for creative or non-fiction writing based around the themes in Vines. I’m also working on a documentary at the moment called ‘Women That I Spoke To’ which explores feminism and equality in 2017. If you’re interested in getting involved you can email [email protected].

‘Vines’ is on at Theatre N16 from 14-19 Mar, click here for details.