Published on July 27th, 2011 | by Biz Books

The Biz Interview: Alison Chisholm – Director of “Compassion for Killers”

Alison Chisholm is the director of the new play, Compassion for Killers, a Whirlwind Theatre production which is now on at Pacific Theatre. Alison was kind enough to take time out of her busy rehearsal schedule to speak with us about the development of the production and the challenges of directing a play that is entirely a solo performance.

What inspired you to take on this production?

Christopher Cook and I have worked together before and he mentioned that he wanted to write and perform a show. I have not directed since university so I was grateful for the opportunity to work with Chris again, especially since it was a brand new script and a great story.

Can you walk us through the creative process as a director in putting this production together from your earliest involvement all the way to opening night?

I started working as a dramaturge after a few early drafts of the script while it was still in the workshop phase. Then after a few more drafts we got it on its feet and have been rehearsing with it since.

Two of the important themes in the story are redemption and compassion. As a director, what was your approach in creating a stage experience that would allow the audience to connect with these themes?

I think Christopher Cook took care of this for me in the writing. As a director all I am doing is trying to make sure that the characters are clear, relatable, and likable and that their stories are all clearly laid out.

What was the most challenging aspect of putting this production together?

Being a solo performance involving 6 different characters, I think the most challenging aspect was making sure that we clearly differentiated the characters and their involvement in the story. We also span two very different timelines so being able to differentiate those has been a challenge as well, but I think we’ve come up with some great and creative solutions.

Which element of Compassion for Killers and your involvement in it are you most proud of?

The development of new work is by far the thing that I am most proud of. I think it’s important to provide opportunities to present new plays, so I’m honoured to be able to do that with this production.

Are there any books or specific authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey as a director?

I can’t think of any specific books that helped influence me in this process, but there are a lot of local artists who were huge inspirations to me, including Ron Reed at Pacific Theatre. His encouragement of emerging artists has helped me find the confidence to pull this off. And of course Christopher Cook’s writing was a huge inspiration as well.

What can you share about any future projects that you are developing?

In the future I am really hoping to write a musical. I’m not sure exactly when that would be happening, but right now I’m tentatively aiming for some time in 2012, but we’ll see what happens. Any updates on that project would be posted on our blog at

Compassion for Killers is at Pacific Theatre until July 30th. Visit for details.

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