Interview with AphraMag
(Full interview here: http://www.aphramag.com/theexoneratedinterview/)
"It all started with a letter.
Australian director and producer Andrei Schiller-Chan was navigating a dark period in his life when he came across a book by Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the African American boxer who was famously wrongly imprisoned for murder from 1966 to 1985. The book touched him, so he wrote to Carter. Carter replied, and during their correspondence Carter put the director in touch with David McCallum III, an African American man who’d been imprisoned for murder in 1985 despite the state having no evidence for his guilt besides a coerced confession that he later recanted. “Once I got David’s address,” says Schiller-Chan, “I started writing to him for about three years. We’d write a letter every month, and I shared everything with him.”
The two men formed a close friendship through their letters. “David became kind of a brother and a best friend, and in some ways I’d probably call him a father as well, because I suppose I was yearning for one,” he says. When one of McCallum’s letters seemed particularly bleak, Schiller-Chan made a decision to fly to New York and visit his friend in person at the Otisville Corrections Centre, two hours outside the city. Entering the prison for the first time, he says, was a strange experience. “When you drive into the jail there’s concrete and barbed wire everywhere, and they’ve got a crossing where you have to wait for all these inmates to cross, and it’s kind of like a zoo, or like an animal crossing.”
Meeting his friend in person for the first time was an intense experience for Schiller-Chan.
It was just the most beautiful moment of my life, I think. It showed me that love and compassion can overcome everything, and that just because someone’s in America doesn’t mean that you can’t be very close in spirit. …We just talked and talked. It was kind of surreal.
Back at home, McCallum’s story inspired Schiller-Chan to start his theatre company, Sol III. The company’s mission, he says, is “to ask questions and provide truth.” And through his company, Schiller-Chan is currently directing ‘The Exonerated’, a play he stumbled across in a New York bookshop when he was visiting McCallum, at Chapel Off Chapel theatre in Melbourne. The play tells the true stories of six ordinary Americans who spent time on death row for crimes they didn’t commit." (Cont'd)
Name: Andrei Schiller-Chan
Lives in: Melbourne, Australia
Company: The Sol III Company
Occupation: Theatre Director, Filmmaker, Theatrical Producer, Fight Director and Acting Teacher
Unique traits: The Actors Bushido™
The Exonerated by Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen
Theater by The Sol III Company Director/Producer
Cherry Smoke by James McManus
Theater by The Sol III Company Producer
Academic Excellence - RMIT