Published on November 19th, 2014 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Ins Choi of Subway Stations of the Cross
A homeless man on a cardboard platform brings his own peculiar message from God. An unpredictable, mashed up meditation on the sacred and the everyday, told through the songs, stories, and poetry of a nameless vagabond.
This is the set-up for Subway Stations of the Cross, an ambitious production by Ins Choi, the creator of Kim’s Convenience, that is now on at Pacific Theatre.
We spoke to Ins Choi about writing and performing in this project.
What was the impetus behind creating this production, and what drew you to perform in it yourself?
Subway Stations of the Cross began in 2002, when I encountered a homeless man on a park bench in downtown Toronto. For the next hour, the man spoke about the Hebrew alphabet, European flags, Greek and Norse mythology, biblical UFOs, Nimrod, giants, fallen angels, the new world order and the return of Christ. Initially dismissing him as a crazy man, I soon realized that he was an angel or a prophet of God. I never saw him again but that experience stuck with me, inspiring my writing and driving me to create this show.
I’ve had more experience as a performer than a writer. Performing in other people’s work is nothing new. Performing in my own work is nothing new. Not performing in my own work hasn’t happened yet. Maybe soon.
Can you share some of your creative process in preparing for the role from the initial planning of the production all the way through to opening night?
This question would work for other more traditional plays but doesn’t really apply to Subway Stations of the Cross. There’s no preparing for the role. There’s no initial planning of the production and no real opening night.
Are there any books or specific authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey?
When I was younger, I worked through a few books on writing that helped me a lot. Kinda artsy fartsy but once I engaged with it, committed to doing it, I got a lot out of them. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’m a big fan of journaling. I return to the book of Ecclesiastes and the book of Job in the Bible from time to time. The poetry of Edward Estlin Cummings. Spoken word artists on YouTube I follow: Denice Frohman, D’bi Young, Rudy Francisco, Lauryn Hill, Franny Choi, Saul Williams, Shihan. Music I’m into right now: Run River North, Shad, Yuna.
What can you share about any future projects that are in development?
I’m developing Kim’s Convenience into a comedy series for TV with a writing partner, Soulpepper and Thunderbird Films. As well, I’m writing a musical for children and their parents called, The Numbers.
You can see Subway Stations of the Cross at Pacific Theatre until November 23rd, 2014.
For more information, please visit PacificTheatre.org.