Q&A: The Sacrifice Zone

Australian playwright Suzie Miller on premiering her work with Theatre Gargantua

Presented by Theatre Gargantua in association with The Uncertainty Principle
Written by Suzie Miller
Directed by Jacquie P.A. Thomas
Starring Ciara Adams, Joel Benson, Pam Patel, Michelle Polak, Michael Spence

L-R: Ciara Adams and Michael Spence in The Sacrifice Zone workshop. Photo by Michael Cooper.

This month, Theatre Gargantua celebrates their 10th cycle of work and the Canadian debut of Australian playwright Suzie Miller with the world premiere of The Sacrifice Zone at Factory Studio Theatre. Set in a fictional mining town after a fatal explosion, the piece explores real world issues of individual, corporate and environmental accountability using a highly physical and contemporary visual style paired with music and live foley by John Gzowski.

We caught up with Miller to find out more about this internationally relevant production.

Theatromania: Tell us about The Sacrifice Zone. What inspired this play?

SM: Early in 2012 I was lucky enough to meet the artistic director of Theatre Gargantua, Jacquie Thomas, when we were both attached to Robert Lepage at Ex Machina in Quebec City. While there we talked keenly about our artistic practices and creative interests and quickly gleaned that we had a similar passion about creating text based movement theatrical works. This lead to embryonic chats about the issues around The Sacrifice Zone. Having late night discussions about fairness and justice, and how to create a theatrical work around such issuesa creative work that would explore such concepts with text, movement and visual elements. In a previous career I was a human rights lawyer so this discussion was one that was fuelled by that background as well as both our countries having large levels of resource extraction.

Theatromania: How would you describe this production in a few sentences?

SM: The Sacrifice Zone is based on various relationships within a fictitious yet universal resource extraction town. These relationships have at issue concepts of fairness and unfairness. Stories and characters weave around each other through shifting time frames and endeavor to explore how we decide what is important in our relationships, within our community and about the environment we live in. When those values are contradictory how do we decide what is fair?

Theatromania: What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced during this process?

SM: The work has been developed with some amazing performers and all of us have been challenged regarding our own positions around questions about what is fair and just, and where the priorities lie. Another challenge has been navigating the international collaboration, and creating solutions about how to be in the "same room" for various discussionssome innovative solutions were established with Theatre Gargantua coming to Sydney, myself coming to Toronto twice, a dynamic Skype set up in the development room and the text being written in four different countries. Interestingly, the universal nature of the issues in the play were further informed as a result of inspiration from the very different landscapes and communities that were vicariously present during the development period.

Theatromania: Have you learned anything new or significant?

SM: Personally I have learned a great deal from Theatre Gargantua, a theatre company renowned for its dynamism and physicality. A workshop conducted in Sydney with Australian performers was a wonderful sharing of ideas and practices, connecting more deeply with a physical language as a playwright is always an exciting collaboration. Furthermore as two nationsCanada and Australiawho both experience indigenous culture first hand some of the discussions and stories were thought-provoking and just life changing.

Theatromania: What do you hope audiences take away from this performance?

SM: I hope audiences experience a fusion of text, movement and visual dynamism which allows them to see the complexity of some of the issues and importantly to have a strong sense of how responsible each and every one of us are regarding some of the challenges. Without giving anything away, there were some quite simple realizations when grappling with solutions to unfairness that were quite empowering in terms of my own personal call to action. Even more importantly I hope that audiences identify with the characters and their own journeys, and of course enjoy a night at the theatre where there is both entertainment, a few laughs and something real to talk about afterwards.

The Sacrifice Zone runs from November 13 to 30 at Factory Studio Theatre. Visit theatregargantua.ca for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2013-11-13 - Sat, 2013-11-30



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