Now in their 15th year, Some Assembly Theatre Company is bringing their newest play, Missing From Me, to the stage. In coordination with the Roundhouse Youth Theatre Action Group project (RYTAG), the play features youth thespians from various cultures who hope to raise awareness about issues that youth face, through theatre.
Valerie Methot, co-founder, executive and artistic director of Some Assembly Theatre Company, says that RYTAG was inspired by her master’s thesis which was based on using theatre to overcome traumatic events. After completing her master’s degree at UBC, Methot wanted to work with youth and started discussions with youth at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre to see if they would be interested in a theatre project.
“Most of the youth said that they wanted to write their own plays and work with professional artists,” says Methot.
The project eventually led to the creation of Some Assembly Theatre Company. Methot continues the project with new and returning youth, who range in age from 13–18 years old. Previous experience in theatre is not required.
Calling herself the “script weaver”, Methot realized that many youth wanted to continue on with the project after they were 18 so she created additional roles and opportunities for them as props designers, musical composers or script editors as well as mentors to newcomers. Some of the youth have also moved on to careers in theatre or social work while others have joined her company as full-time staff.
Raising awareness about youth issues
Plays are based on issues that the youth would like to raise awareness about. There is also a counselor available to support the youth through any personal issues that they may have. Talkback sessions are held after each performance.
Methot is a strong advocate of giving youth a safe space for expression. “I remember being a youth – it was a time in my life that was very challenging. I had struggles with depression and I didn’t really know how to talk about my struggles. I wanted to create a project for youth where they felt comfortable and safe expressing themselves.”
After working with youth for many years, Methot stresses that the plays also serve as a tool to help prevent risks that youth may face.
“I’ve witnessed how this project is successful – I’ve worked with youth who have opened up about committing suicide. They have later said that if they had not participated in the project, they wouldn’t have found meaning in their lives,” says Methot.
For this year’s production, Methot says that the youth wanted to discuss issues of isolation, loss, abuse and transphobia. The play features 11 youth, each with their own internal struggles, and takes place at a train station where unexpected events change their plans and ultimately brings them closer together.
“By the end of the play, they all discover their inner strength and they’re able to deal with their baggage better,” says Methot.
Methot hopes that the play will inspire people, make them laugh and reflect on the connections in their own life.
Providing a voice to youth
Brogan Ho, 19, plays the character of Margo in Missing From Me. Ho has been involved in various drama classes throughout her life and joined RYTAG three years ago after watching one of their productions.
“What I like about theatre is the opportunity to get into someone else’s life and bring your own experiences and emotions to the character,” says Ho.
Ho explains that the youth are able to write their own characters and through the process, she was able to bring up some important issues that were applicable to her personal life and family.
“It’s a good way for my parents to see what’s going on with me because sometimes just having me tell them doesn’t get the message across,” says Ho.
Although she is currently studying at SFU, Ho is looking to pursue a career in acting.
Missing From Me will be presented from May 4–7 at the Roundhouse Community Centre. Admission is free. For more information, please visit www.someassembly.ca.