An Interview with the Creators of Red Earth

To help audiences get to know One Trunk’s production Red Earth better, the play’s Artistic Producer Andraea Sartison and graphic novelist GMB Chomichuk interview one another about behind the scenes details.

Then… read on! As the playwrights Kristian Jordan and Rick Chafe ask their own questions!


Andraea Sartison asks GMB Chomichuk

  1. How is making comics just like being an astronaut?

Comics- that is any use of a series of words and pictures to tell a story- have many moving parts that must work together to achieve their mission. You train and practise for years to create a moment of story that, if it works, no one spends longer than a second to consume. When it’s working its seems unremarkable, when it fails, the whole mission is at stake.

  1. What did you learn during this process that changed your perspective on your own art form?

It changed my understanding of the facets of collaboration. I often collaborate on story or art, in books, film or animation, but that sort of collaboration can be very compartmentalized. In other mediums I create my part then pass it off according to a more rigid schedule and story goal.  Devised theatre requires a fluidity of creativity and ego that puts the work firmly before its creators. We all serve the work, because each of us must be ready to change or abandon our contribution for the sake of the story we as a group, have found, rather then pursue the goal we planned.


GMB Chomichuk asks Andraea Sartison

1.What is your favorite color?

My favourite colour (with a u) is obviously red. Which is the inspiration for the show. That and Mars….

2. What is the main difference to you working in Traditional Theatre to Devised Theatre as a director?

The difference in my approach on a devised piece is that I feel I am in pursuit of ideas with my team using creative exploration- and all the pieces are still in movement. That is, aside from time and resources, there are no limits. We have freedom from the rigidity of a traditional rehearsal/development process or the predetermined outcome of a story. We can be responsive to each other and what the piece needs. This is liberating as it makes me feel that the possibilities are endless, and that a weight is lifted from me needing to come up with all the answers on my own.

3.How did you keep all the needs of visual, music, dialog, action, animation, character movement moving in the right direction in Devised Theatre?

Strong goals, clear communication and a team that I can depend on. I like to work with artists who are creators and innovators. People who are invested in the idea and who I can rely on to stay on task, who are inspired to contribute and also let me know what they need from me. It is a lot of checking in, and floating between dreams and reality— what do we want and what is actually possible? When do we need to push what is possible, and when do we need to renegotiate what we want?

I think if the vision is strong and it can be communicated to a passionate and hardworking team who gets on board and gives there all them that equals a successful process and hopefully a successful product.


Rick Chafe asks Kristian Jordan

  1. What’s your history with comics, novels, graphic novels, or movies in the sci-fi genre and did any of it influence your approach to the story? Is there more sci fi writing in your future?

In the final year of my degree I realized I still needed a class worth of credit hours that couldn’t be theatre-based, but could be anything else. So, naturally, I found a class on science fiction. It was in that time that I began to look at sci-fi as a tool in writing, rather than a vehicle for lightsaber duels. What I love about sci-fi is how it immediately alienates us, but in the struggle to place ourselves in it’s strange new circumstances, we find some sort of recognition. I loved bringing that to theatre. There will for sure be more in my future. A long dead pianist wakes up in the future?!? 

  1. What would it take to get to you to Mars? Besides a spaceship. Would you be ready volunteer or the last to leave Earth kicking and screaming?

This is a tough one, because wether it’s by choice or necessity, everything you might gain would ultimately be defined by what you lost. I like watching our characters grapple with that. But as for me, it definitely wouldn’t be kicking and screaming. Honestly, I think the bike paths would just have to be better than they are here.


Kristian Jordan asks Rick Chafe

1.  I should probably preface this with ‘for better or for worse’ but… what has occurred in the voice of your writing as a result of the many collaborative sources contributing to this project?

I collaborate a lot, so I’m used to modifying my writing voice in playing with other voices- a bit more like playing in a jazz band than a choir, I guess. There’s room for soloing but lots of the paying time is supporting the other players. In Red Earth, I’ve never been so aware while we were writing just how equally present the other artist’s voices were ALL going to be in the process and the final product- all the artists would be playing forward into the space normally taken up by the writers, actors and director. As a graphic novel on stage, Gregory’s projected drawings (with animation and design from Matthew Waddell and Laura Anzola) are going to speak at least as loudly as the scripted words and actions, probably louder. Daina’s voice as the set designer creating a physical platform that allows the actors to perform with a graphic novel page speaks at least as loudly as the actors or the words. the role of jaymez’ music and soundscape and Itai’s lighting are going to be enormous in creating this world- I’m certain I’ve never worked on a project where the sound and light will be consistently demanded to play a starring role in the storytelling. Which for our writing I think has meant we don’t have to carry the storytelling ball all the time- halfway through rehearsals no we’ve probably cut 30% of the words out of the script that have been better handled by other ways of telling the story. I joined this project a year ago because it looked like the most fun I could ever have and still be writing. This far in, it’s never disappointed. 

2.  So Rick Chafe is walking on Mars, and his foot catches some object, and he trips and falls.  He digs the object out, dusts the martian dust off of it and, no… it can’t be… it’s not possible…it’s:
For better and worse, it’s a memory. Always a memory.