For a stage in Vancouver, three young Surrey thespians are helping to create a play that aims to “promote awareness, wellness, prevention and dialogue about issues facing teens.”
It’s called REWIRE, the latest project brought to life by Some Assembly Theatre Company and RHYTAG, or Roundhouse Youth Theatre Action Group.
Every spring, the companies select theatre-minded youth from Metro Vancouver to be part of the play-making process, from conception to final curtain, with stories and themes important to those involved.
REWIRE, to be staged from May 1 to 4 at Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, is set on the night of a “symbolic lunar eclipse and major video game event,” when a group of youth come together “to bravely tackle root causes of stress including poverty, grief and sexual assault,” according to a description of the production.
While admission is free for the six stagings, donations to RHYTAG are encouraged.
“We’ve been doing shows like this since 2002, so it’s my 18th year of doing this,” said Valerie Methot, the director, playwright and set/sound designer for the show. “It’s been amazing, and I’ve been reflecting on that and how fortunate I’ve been.”
This year’s cast and creative team includes Surrey-area residents Sophie Elder-Labrie, Josh Kennedy and Denise Cachero.
“Sophie is back on the project,” Methot said. “She’s a writer/actor this year and also mentored the younger youth who want to create songs, and she’s involved in a lot of things this year. She composed and performs her own song.”
Josh first started with the company last year, and this year plays the lead organizer of the video-game event.
“He brings to the project a delightful sense of humour,” Methot said. “He plays somewhat of a comedic role in this year’s play, and also plays a character who’s quite a supportive friend. So it’s not just full-on comedic.”
Josh, a Grade 12 student at Guildford Park Secondary, says the REWIRE experience will help him in his pursuit of a career in acting.
“It was such a fun process to create a play from scratch and be involved with talented youth like this,” Josh said. “Last year, it was the first big thing I’d done in theatre, outside of school plays.”
Denise is new to the company this year, Methot noted.
“In meeting with the youth, the topic of stress was brought up as a concern in their lives,” she explained, “and the conversation turned to root causes about stress, such as poverty, and grief and sexual assault, and these are quite serious concerns. Denise was somebody who brought the topic of comfort women, and it’s something I’d never heard about before. She’d learned about it at school, in history class, how it was a tool of terrorism, and it’s talked about in the play.”
(Comfort women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during the Second World War, according to Wikipedia.)
The creation of the show involves a call-out to youth at the end of summer, followed by months of collaborative work to bring a theatre production to the stage.
Explained Methot: “The project does not require the youth to have prior theatre experience, they just need to desire to be part of this play, commit to making rehearsals and bring something like this to the stage.
“Some have seen the previous show we’d done, perhaps – they see themselves on stage and so there’s an instantaneous connection,” she added. “If we’re given an opportunity to be creative, it’s amazing to see how they blossom.”
Part of B.C. Youth Week activities, REWIRE will be shown six times from May 1 to 4, with “talkback” sessions to follow every performance at 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver. For details visit someassembly.ca, facebook.com/rhytag, twitter.com/rndhousetheatre and instagram.com/someassemblytheatre.