Vault Festival preview: Alice

Welcome to another preview from this year’s Vault Festival. Alice is a production by the all-female collective Klein Blue, and is written and performed by Emily Renée, directed by Tamar Saphra, and produced by Sophie Ablett, with sound design by Beth Duke.

Alice runs in the Cavern from 27 Feb-1 Mar, at 6.20pm.

Emily and her colleagues in Klein Blue answered a few questions about their show for us.

Emily Renée. Courtesy Klein Blue Crowdfunder campaign for Alice.
Emily Renée. Courtesy Klein Blue Crowdfunder campaign for Alice.

The name Alice is closely identified with the girl who explores wonderland. Was this of any consideration when choosing the name and title?

It’s a great question – it wasn’t a conscious choice.

I chose Alice because it has that quintessential English Victorian feel to it, which felt important given how the play is about a family that is trying to assimilate into British society.

But the reference to Lewis Carroll has come up in the rehearsal process, and there is a basic similarity in how both stories are about protagonists who dive into their imagination in search of greater enlightenment. 

Tell me a bit about Klein Blue, where they started and where they are going.

Klein Blue is a collective of female artists headed by Sophie Ablett and Grace Strickland de Souza.

The focus of our work has been to find unexplored angles on contemporary topics — so our first show for instance looked at female beauty standards through exploring the still-taboo topic of female body hair. 

Alice likewise offers a fresh angle on the conversation around which stories we see represented on stage. 

We’re a young and ambitious collective and are excited to continue to champion under-explored voices and make urgent and visceral work. 

Introducing Alice. Courtesy Klein Blue Instagram.
Introducing Alice. Courtesy Klein Blue Instagram.

There have been a lot of solo shows written and performed at the Vault Festival this year. Why might auduences want to come along and see Alice?

Alice is about the power our past can have over our present. Does what happen before we are born define who we are? And if so, is it possible to honour our past and still become more than the sum of our parts? 

The description of the show mentions creating “personal myths”. To what extent do you think people need to do this in order to get through their lives?

I think about this all the time!

It’s so interesting because on some level we all do it, we need to, to be able to function in this particular societal structure we’ve set up, and to be able to justify why bad things and good things happen to us.

But what I’m particularly interested in is that grey area, where we create false identities that are untrue but still an authentic reflection of ourselves because we want to be seen that way.

What is the hardest aspect of British culture to understand for an immigrant coming to live here?

I’m not a first generation immigrant who came to this country, but I know that just as not all women or queer people or people of colour have the same experiences, neither do first or second or third generation immigrants.

What is interesting to me is this sudden vogue in hearing stories about immigration, identity, otherness and how long this trend will last.

I really want to tell stories and I’m glad that some of these stories happen to be wanted by the culture, but the nature of this enthusiasm sometimes feels problematic. 

What’s been the highlight of playing the Vault Festival for you?

It’s so exciting to be part of Vault Festival.

There’s a real spirit of camaraderie amongst all the artists making work and it’s very magical to see people create ideas from the ground up with very little resources but tons of dedication and curiosity.

It’s what has always drawn me to theatre, that DIY spirit of just getting together and asking questions about the world. 

Vault Festival publicity image for Alice

My thanks to Emily and Klein Blue for their time.