Monkey Motivation: Sherwood Alexander
To celebrate our alumni community as we gear up to our tenth anniversary, which falls in Autumn 2020, we have been speaking to some of our Monkey alumni and asking them to share their memories and experiences of their actor training journey, plus giving us an insight into some of the work they have been doing since graduating.
Sherwood Alexander, a graduate of both the Year of the Monkey and Two Year Rep training programmes and a member of the graduating Class of 2016, talks to us about what made him choose Fourth Monkey for his actor training, what he has been working on since he graduated and share his advice for prospective and current students…
What made you choose Fourth Monkey for your actor training? Had you completed any other training before joining the school and, if so, can you tell us a little bit about how the two compare?
The only training I’d completed prior to Fourth Monkey was a BTEC in college. A teacher recommended I check Monkey out, knowing my love for physical theatre and (a small obsession with) Gregor Samsa from Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I chose Monkey over the rest because it delved further into the physical aspect of training I was searching for.
Can you share a few personal highlights and memories that stand out from your time training at Fourth Monkey? Any practitioners who have influenced your creative choices or any classes that have stuck with you since you graduated, for example?
A personal highlight of mine was during our Russian Season in 2016. Me and a bunch of Monkeys worked with Steven Green on a show called Plasticine. It was so much fun playing with this dark and demented story. It really pushed us all physically and mentally – it was nuts! When I bump into my old mates we still can’t stop talking about the enjoyment we had working on that beautiful show (thanks Steve!).
(Image: Neon Panda theatre collective)
Before you started your training at Fourth Monkey, what were you most excited to try or to learn more about? Did this shift or change as your training progressed, and have these interests been reflected in the choices you’ve made in your work since you graduated?
I was excited for the different parts of training I’ve never done before – clowning, Decroux mime, Grotowski. All I knew is that I wanted be an actor, more specifically – a physical theatre performer. It wasn’t until the Grotowski two-week intensive when I realised what I loved. I’ve moved on, incorporating the teachings I gained from Growtoski, to include the practice into everything I create (thank you Magda!).
Tell us a bit about what you’ve been working on since you left Fourth Monkey – what have your professional highlights been? Are there any interesting collaborators, projects or shows that you can tell us about?
Since Monkey, I started my own physical theatre company NEON PANDA with another Monkey alumni. We put on our first show for the Camden Fringe 2017 season, and we have our own site where you’ll find a review and original music that I recorded for the show.
Speaking of music, I’ve also been in the recording studio, making tunes with my band
I also dabble with a pencil every now and then and I have a website full of original work if anyone wants to have a gander.
(Image: Vincent Picasso)
As your creative career progresses, what are you hoping to work on or create in the future? For example, are there any collaborators you’d particularly like to work with, any theatre or arts genres you want to experiment with or try?
I’m currently working on my companies next show with close friend and alumni William Townsend. He’s such a wonderful spirit to work with. Every time we get in a room together we can’t help running around and acting like excited kids!
What advice would you give to any prospective students preparing for their audition or gearing up to start their actor training in September? Likewise, do you have any advice for our students who will be graduating this summer?
Do what you want to do and don’t give up on it. It’s easily said, but it’s true. I think of tons of odd things and never waste time on worrying what the outside world will think. If I enjoy it and it makes me happy, I run with it. You’ll find friends around you in the room which you just click with, and they’re the ones who’ll go out running with you.
Finally, a topical question – how have you been staying creative in lockdown?
Lockdown has actually given me time to sit down and work on material for my bands album, which I’ll eventually get round to recording when normality comes back around. I’ve also been able to knuckle down and finish writing a TV series I’ve been working on for a while now. I’m very excited to see where it goes in the future. I’ve also become a Gwent master, so I’m beginning to think I have too much free time…