We got to talk to Sophia Del Pizzo about her show ASSMONKEY: In Conversation, a one woman comedy about anxiety and depression. We think it is so exciting that there is a wealth of work about mental health in theatre at the moment, and that it is all being approached in new and interesting ways. For our show, A Clown Show About Rain, we approach the subject using clown and movement, whereas Sophia has made her show using her own stories, silly songs, stand up and character work - which sounds awesome!
What drove you to make Assmonkey: In Conversation?
I’ve had a lot of therapy through the years, but the turning point came when I really started look at my mental health as an outside entity, one that isn’t me, doesn’t define me. I was at a retreat where the meditation leader told me to say hello to my anxiety and have a chat with it. That’s really the basis of the show, me talking to my anxiety like it’s a person. I think it’s a valuable tool for people to try out.
Who is Assmonkey for?
Everyone! Except maybe kids. Everyone who’s ever experienced stress or feels like they use alcohol or drugs for reasons other than social. But also for those people who maybe struggle to understand mental health.
What are the challenges you face presenting theatre about Mental Health?
Well for one thing, it’s been done and done again. But also, I set out to make a comedy, so I had to come up with ways to theatrically perform struggles we all face and make it funny and not preachy, without making it all about me. There was a lot to think about. There’s something terribly self indulgent writing a one woman show for yourself, I think I’m overly cautious, I don’t want it to be ‘Hey guy’s look at me and my problems’, so I tried very hard to make it as accessible as possible. I think that’s how I ended up getting Arts Council Funding on a show called ASSMONKEY, it is a relatable show. A fine line between stand up and sketch.
What theatre ‘turn offs’ do you have?
I'm terrible with long plays over an hour and a half and I start to get hungry. A comedian made me eat a raisin once. They’re my bad memory food ( don’t ask ). Was pretty traumatic. I’m over it now *gags*
What was the last show that moved you to action?
I guess Richard Gadd’s Monkey See Monkey Do gave me a slight kick up the arse, if he was able to tell that story, I should have the guts to tell mine. It gave me the impetus to be brave and lay everything out for the audience. And Spencer jones is always a good reminder there’s no such thing as too silly. I like to think ASSMONKEY has appropriate dustings of silliness.
What shows at VAULT are you looking forward to?
Ok, do you have a pen, so Jo Nastari’s F*ck You Pay Me. Fran Bushe’s Ad Libido, I saw it’s preview and it blew me away so I can’t wait to see how it’s developed. Isobel Rogers - Elsa, Amy Tobias’ - The Quantum Physics of My Heart, Koko Brown’s' White and Maud Dromgoole’s - Marys Babies. These artists are all one woman shows and we’ve grouped together to create a solo theatre makers super force. We’re all in contact should one of us need some support, emotional or otherwise and we are generally badass.
ASSMONKEY: In Conversation is on from 7-11 at VAULT Festival at 19.45pm!