I was born in Cardiff, went to university in London, travelled solo around USA when I was about 19, trained as an actor at École Philippe Gaulier, started an indie theatre company and also got into writing, impro and playing music via that.
I work freelance in the theatre as an actor and a theatre maker and about a third of the time that is with Cartoon de Salvo, I also sometimes direct, improvise and write.
I have worked with Kneehigh, Improbable, NIE, Tom Morris & Guy Dartnell and the Comedy Store Players. I’ve directed Ionesco for the Young Vic and Hungarian new writing at the National Theatre. As a performer with Improbable, I’m working on a political project about women, permission and impro called Permission Improbable. I write collaboratively and have recently been commissioned by National Theatre Wales.
Alongside this I am Artistic Director of Cartoon de Salvo (Co-AD with Brian Logan and Neil Haigh 2013-15). We’ve played everywhere from tiny village halls and cliff tops in Cornwall, from proper producing houses to allotments, to Edinburgh, Glastonbury and Hong Kong International Festivals. Following training with impro legend Keith Johnstone I brought my company to San Francisco to learn to improvise a whole story in one night and the resulting show Hard Hearted Hannah and Other Stories, which pioneered long-form impro in UK theatre, was in the Telegraph’s Top Ten Comedy Shows of 2008 and recently took the company to Washington’s Kennedy Center.
Since 1997 I’ve overseen the artistic vision, led on organisation development, found successful funding partnerships and managed teams of between 4 to 29 on over 50 projects. In 2004-05 I sought commissions and funding, researched, co-produced and directed a £170,000 site-specific show The Sunflower Plot on two allotments.
I’ve taught extensively (Central, East 15, Guildhall) and I teach Introduction to Rural Touring for the Independent Theatre Council. Last year The National Rural Touring Forum invited me to be the first artist on their board. My work’s been featured in the Guardian, Time Out, Total Theatre Magazine and I was interviewed for the New Statesman’s arts and culture feature The Way I See It. I recently was selected for the Clore Short Course and was part of BAC’s Independents programme exploring and advocating for the role of the artist in cultural leadership, which has lead me to explore coaching.
I also play the mandolin in an alt country band called The Du-rell Family.
Shows I’ve directed for Cartoon de Salvo
1997: Here Be Dragons 1999: Bernie and Clive 2000: Meat and Two Veg
2002: Ladies and Gentlemen, Where Am I? 2003: The Chaingang Gang
2005: The Sunflower Plot 2005: The Ratcatcher of Hamelin
2006: The Fire of London 2008: Hard Hearted Hannah and Other Stories
2008: Melt Down 2009: The Greek 2009: Pub Rock 2010: The Irish Giant
2010: Made Up 2014-present Cyrano
Press, Feedback and Testimonials
“Surreal, unpretentious, swashbuckling theatre” Time Out on the Salvos
“One of the UK’s most idiosyncratic theatre companies” Lyn Gardner, the Guardian, on the Salvos
“Ineffably moving” Maddy Costa on Ionesco’s The New Tenant at the Young Vic
“A cultural ice-breaker; even if you’ve never been to the theatre in your life” Tom Morris, Artistic Director Bristol Old Vic, Associate Director Royal National Theatre
“Alex’s company Cartoon de Salvo are creating new areas for theatre to inhabit and new ways for stories to be told. They are leaders in their field and students of their art and I’m glad they are around.” Lee Simpson, Co-Artistic director, Improbable
“Cartoon de Salvo are a highly innovative company whose use of free-form improvisation, music, and live interactivity marks them out as pioneers within their field. They explore the site-specific, they explore the theatre of uncertainty, and they have pushed the boundaries of what a theatre experience can be.” David Farr, Associate director, Royal Shakespeare Company
‘Alex Murdoch’s contributions as speaker and compere were a highlight in the programme of events for our premiere Women of the World festival at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Her open and professional nature made her talk an engaging and inspirational experience for all our audience. We intend to work with Alex again on future events, particularly WOW festival, as she is the ideal role model and representative for modern female artists.’ Fern George, Programmer Women of the World, Wales Millennium Centre
‘Doing BAC Young People’s Theatre with Alex was enlightening, one of my happiest theatre memories! So much of what we did has become what I do – joy, silliness, being kind to your audience…” Sarah Chase, Creative Director and Facilitator, Grow Your Own Theatre
“Alex Murdoch’s work is an essential for actors. I learned clowning, physical comedy and most importantly “Le Jeu”. She gave me the drive to start my company. Since working with Alex our show went on to gain 5 star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe most notably from The Scotsman and we are continuing to create work” Will Cowell, East 15 student, Caligula’s Alibi
“The spontaneity of improvisation is such a rush, this has broadened my perception of what theatre can be” Sophie Roche, 15, Lyric Young Company
‘‘We find the sense of ensemble, trust, listening and craft are exactly what we want our own students to develop: a sense of playfulness, sensitivity, creativity and risk, with absolutely no ego blocking the creative process… As a direct result of the workshops, some of our students now actively look for degree courses which offer improvisation so that they can continue to develop in an art form they love.”Jo Horsley, Performing Arts Teacher, Central Sussex College
“Alex is uniquely placed to instruct and advise on the pressures of working as an individual within the arts. I have worked in a freelance capacity and held governance and leadership roles in various sizes of cultural organisations and have found her insight and counsel invaluable.” Fiona Anderson, Development Manager, The Roundhouse
“Alex displays real clarity of vision and possesses true strength of her convictions, while embracing change as required by projects and collaborators at any given time. She has successfully led and inspired large artistic and production teams, and developed a network of strong, highly engaged stakeholders who regularly support the company’s work. An authentic and alternative cultural leader.” Ric Watts, Producer, Unlimited Theatre, also Chris Goode and Analogue
“As the innovative leader of an organisation, and an experienced, active writer, director and actor, Alex maintains an infectious passion for her work on stage as well as leading a company that strives to do things in ways that no-one else can. Her enthusiasm is irrepressible, as is her desire to pursue originality and honesty through her work.” Charlie Morrisson, Head of Operations and Finance, Brighter Sound, Clore Fellow 2012